Computer Crime Research Center


Interviewed by Patrick Bellamy

Date: October 12, 2004
Source: Crime Library
By: Patrick Bellamy

Stephen Singular is a highly regarded journalist and freelance writer. Apart from his book Presumed Guilty � An Investigation into the JonBenet Ramsey Case, The Media and the Culture of Pornography, he is the author of ten other non-fiction books including the New York Times best-selling A Killing in the Family, which eventually became the NBC-TV mini-series Love Lies and Murder. His first book Talked to Death: The Life &Murder of Alan Berg - which dealt with the assassination of Denver radio talk show host Alan Berg by neo-Nazis - was the basis for Oliver Stone�s 1989 film, Talk Radio. His latest book, due for release at the end of 2000, is called � The Uncivil War: The Rise of Hate, Violence, and Terrorism in America.

Q: When you first went to Boulder, Colorado in January 1997 following JonBenet's murder, did you, like the hundreds of other journalists drawn to the area at the time, have any pre-conceived ideas regarding who might be responsible for the crime?

I try not to have pre-conceived ideas about murders, but to discover what my ideas and perceptions are along the way. Even if you know what happened in a case, you still want to know why it happened. So you're always searching for that. By February 1997, when no arrest had been quickly made in the Ramsey case, I began to think that it was a more complicated homicide than the media was portraying it to be. The longer the case went on without an arrest, the more convinced of that I became.

Q: Prior to your first meeting with Boulder District Attorney Alex Hunter in April 1997, what research had you undertaken on the case?

I had gone online and looked at pictures of little girls, five and six-year-olds, the same age as JonBenet, who were being used for child pornography purposes. They were being tied up by their hands and ankles and being sexually abused, or laid out on tables or hung from ceilings. They were being treated violently, and ropes, scarves, and belts were used to tie them up. These photographic situations looked very similar to the conditions surrounding the death of JonBenet, who was strangled to death with a piece of nylon rope. Before meeting Hunter I'd also talked to computer crime specialists who told me that child porn was now the fastest growing criminal activity in cyberspace.

Q: How did you make the connection between the JonBenet Ramsey case and child pornography?

I didn't make the connection as much as I felt that this area should be investigated by the authorities because of the similarities between what I'd seen online and the child's murder. And because I'd been told by cyber-crime specialists that JonBenet was precisely the kind of child, because of her beauty pageant experience, who could be sucked into the world of child porn. She was a natural candidate to attract attention -- and pedophiles. Once it became apparent, from the cops' investigation, that the Ramseys did not seem to be involved in abusing their child and this was not an obvious case of a parent raping or killing their little girl, then the next place to investigate was the subculture of exploitation and violence that JonBenet was exposed to through her success in the pageant world. If you can determine that her parents had no criminal past or even criminal tendencies, and you can also determine that a child was connected to things that hold criminal behavior, why wouldn't you investigate those things and that behavior?

Q: You were responsible for focusing Alex Hunter and his team on another suspect weren�t you?

Yes, I told Hunter that a photographer (Randy Simons) who'd taken JonBenet's picture and who, according to some pageant moms in the Denver-Boulder area, had asked if he could photograph their girls nude or semi-nude, had freaked out following the murder and had acted very suspiciously ever since. I was not suggesting that Simons participated in the death of JonBenet but that he might well have knowledge of the kinds of activities and subculture I was telling Hunter about. At the time I told the DA this, he'd never heard of Simons, which indicates just how much the Boulder police resisted investigating the murder outside of the family and how little they knew about the world JonBenet had been exposed to through her
pageant connections.

Q: What was the result of those investigations?

The police never truly investigated Simons or anyone else who raised the possibility of a different scenario for this homicide. They were, to use Hunter's word, "fixated" on the Ramseys and still are.

Q: So when police chief Mark Beckner told the press that his detectives had intensively investigated� numerous other suspects, apart from the Ramseys, he wasn�t telling the truth?

He was telling the truth as he saw it. They did devote a little time to this or that person but never with any conviction or genuine curiosity. From firsthand observations of the police behavior in this case, I can tell you that they have not deeply investigated a number of credible leads. They haven't acted this way out of malice, but because they hold only one view of the case. The murder can't be solved, I believe, because that view doesn't fit the evidence.

Q: In February this year, a Californian woman came forward and, through her counselor, advised the Boulder police that she had previously been molested at the hands of a pedophile ring that she thought was also responsible for the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. How significant was her evidence and do you think Alex Hunter and the BPD treated it seriously?

I think much of what she said -- and I was present during several of her interviews -- is very significant. The Ramseys have gone on TV and begged the public for information about this murder. They have presented a profile of their daughter's killer: a pedophile in Boulder who knew their family. This woman came forward and talked about a pedophilic group in Boulder with connections to their family, and she suggested that this group might have played a role in their daughter's death. The Ramseys wanted absolutely nothing to do with her -- even though she was talking about things that appeared to exonerate them in the murder of their child. What does this tell you? They don't want this pedophile door opened even one crack. The secrets of the case, I believe, lie in there and they (or at least one of the parents) don't want anyone to explore this realm of child exploitation, abuse, and pornography. It is better to be accused of being a murderer than to have other things come out. Hunter took her seriously, but the BPD, which interviewed her and was the agency that should have investigated her claims, dismissed her the same way they've dismissed everyone and everything that haven't fit their scenario. For the Ramseys, or one Ramsey, there appeared to be a worse scenario than having both Patsy and their young son Burke being publicly accused, for the past three years, of killing JonBenet. That scenario had to do with making their daughter the victim of a child sex ring in Boulder. Why was this more threatening than having your family members accused of the most terrible thing a person can do?

Q: Can you suggest any scenarios that would explain why they would want to cover something like that up and allow themselves to be implicated in their daughters murder in the process?

Both parents, as I've suggested, are not involved in the same things, so the cover-up then becomes broader than merely hiding things from the police. And once certain actions were taken on the night of the murder, taken in a moment of absolute panic, they could not be undone. Also, the Ramseys have never been legally implicated in the murder of their daughter. They've only been accused of this by the media and others. So the plan, at least to date, has worked. They are not in jail and not likely to be charged with the crime soon. It is better, isn't it, to be thought a bad person by much of the world, than to face the worst accusations from the people closest to you? So silence prevails.

Q: Why do you think those closest to the case and the general public were so quick to implicate John and Patsy for JonBenet�s death?

Because it's easy. People need to hate other people and the media feeds this need. It's in the business of creating demons and selling them to the public. None of this has anything to do with solving murder cases. It's just dollars and cents. As for the cops who were so certain the Ramseys were guilty, they were merely looking at the statistic that says in 10 out of 11 cases in which a child is found dead in the house, a parent did it. They were going by the book. But nothing in this case -- nothing at all -- comes close to fitting the book.

Q: If JonBenet hadn�t been involved in child beauty pageants, do you think the case would have drawn the same amount of media attention?

The images that drew everyone into the case are, in my view, the same images that drew JonBenet's killer to her. She was a marketable commodity so she was going to be exploited for someone's gain. It is very interesting that we are all drawn to look at those images, over and over again, yet there has been great resistance to the notion that someone outside the family would also have been drawn to the child and participated in her death. We don't like to admit, as a society, how troubling the sexualization and exploitation of children is, so we've tried to lay this entire case off on JonBenet's mother. It is an example of extreme denial.

Q: Why do you think the Boulder...
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2004-11-04 16:20:26 - very good interview Dave Broadbent
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