[ABC Chats with the Ramseys; date = Mar 20 2000]
Wolf: Welcome Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey. Do you have any opening comments for our readers?
John Ramsey: The primary reason we're speaking out now is we want to find the killer of our daughter and I believe it will be accomplished with the help of the public.
Wolf: How did your interview with Barbara Walters on 20/20 on Friday affect your life?
John Ramsey:We've had many wonderful e-mails and phone calls from both friends and people we don't know who have all said "I had no idea that this is what happened." Many people said, "I feel like I need to apologize for believing you were guilty."
Wolf: I'd like to ask you if you saw Gov. Owens on Good Morning America this morning. If so, what is your reaction to what he said? How do you respond to his statement that you are still not cooperating with Colorado authorities?
John Ramsey: I did not see him this morning. I go back to my letter that I sent Alex Hunter two years ago in which I said, "My family will meet with your investigators, anywhere anytime, any place you want for as long as you want, to help find the killer of my daughter." It is nonsense to say we have not been willing to cooperate. We offered to meet with the district attorney, the chief of police, we offered to meet with the governer, we offered to testify before the grand jury, I don't know what else we can do.
Wolf: A lot of our readers are curious about why you finally decided to break your silence. Thomas Harvey asks, "Why now? From all I have seen of this case, you've been tight lipped and silent toward everything that has anything to do with the investigation."
John Ramsey: You have to realize that an investigation was going on and a grand jury was in progress and it simply wasn't proper for us to speak out. It became appropriate at the conclusion of the grand jury to speak out and that is exactly what we have done. An investigation of this seriousness should not be a public spectacle and is certainly not entertainment. We respected the justice process as best we could, although it was very difficult not to respond to all the false accusations.
Wolf: In the interview with Barbara Walters, you talked about how offensive it is to be asked if you killed your daughter. Do you think you'll be asked that question for the rest of your lives?
John Ramsey: People that know us and people that meet us and accept us as friends know that that is a ridiculous question.
Wolf: What do you think of Larry Schiller's book "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town?" How much cooperation did you give him? What does your book say that his doesn't?
John Ramsey: I never read his book, nor have I ever talked to him or met him. All I can say is that our book is our story as told by us. I don't believe anyone else can tell that story except us.
Wolf: Schiller quotes police interviews that were videotaped and transcribed in which John answers "No" to Det. Steve Thomas's question, "Would you take a lie detector test?" Who is telling the truth? Would you take a test tomorrow if it would clear your name?
John Ramsey: That is totally false. We were never asked to take a lie detector test by the police. We certainly would take a lie detector test that was administered fairly. Our objective is not to clear our name, our objective is to find the killer of our daughter.
Wolf: Reader Terry Stanton wants to know what specifically you are doing to find the "real killer." Can you tell us how many detectives, forensic experts, etc. are working on the investigation?
John Ramsey: We have both hired and volunteer experts who are working on the investigation full time. We can only do so much as private citizens. But we will do everything that we can do. Eventually, only the police have the authority and the power to conclude a successful investigation.
Wolf: You say that you are beginning your hunt for the real killers by looking at the people close to you. Has that caused you to be estranged by your friends or family?
John Ramsey: That is a misunderstanding. We actually have been conducting our own investigation since early 1997. The point that was made was that any investigation needs to start at the center of the crime and work outward. We know, for instance, that our neighborhood was never thoroughly canvassed by the police. We have told the police from the begining that we don't believe we know anyone that could be this evil. But what we were advocating was that we need to start over, go back and canvass the neighborhood for information and work outward.
Wolf: If the killers are foreign terrorists as suggested in the ransom note what countries will you be focusing on? Have you hired international investigators? Are international police agencies/foreign governments helping?
John Ramsey: We have not hired or requested help from any foreign government. I think the garrote is a key clue that may be familiar to someone from another country. But that is pure speculation at this point.
Momto2Queens: As the mother of two pageant queens, I was wondering what advice you have for keeping a child safe from danger in the "Pageant World?" And do you feel that pageantry in any way had anything to do with the terrible death of your daughter?
Patsy Ramsey: Of course I don't know who the murderer is at this point, so I don't know if it was related to pageants or not. What I would suggest is that we be very careful about exposing our children in public. We should not allow them to be photographed or videotaped because we never know where those pictures will show up or who is at liberty to attain those. I think it's just an awareness issue because we never know who is looking at our children with ugly thoughts.
Wolf: Would you want the killer of your daughter to face the death penalty? Or should the killer be shown "compassion," as your older son once said?
John Ramsey: First, my older son never said that. But I want the killer of my daughter to suffer as much as I am afraid he caused my daughter to suffer.
Wolf: Does that mean the death penalty?
John Ramsey: It means that if this person values his life, and is afraid of death, then yes. If this means that this person would suffer by having to live the rest of his life in a cell and look himself in the mirror every morning and see a killer of children, then that should be the penalty. Death to some would be a gift and I have no intention of giving this killer a gift.
Patsy Ramsey: I feel the same way. This person needs to be brought to justice and be held accountable for taking an innocent child's life.
Wolf: Marianna Steel, like many other ABCNEWS.com readers, asks, "Will you ever return to Colorado to live?"
John Ramsey: No, never.
Patsy Ramsey: No.
John Ramsey: We have many wonderful friends in Colorado, but the bureaucracy in Colorado has treated us horrendously. From the city police to the city government to the governor. We moved our business to that state in 1990 and we lost our daughter and we lost our reputation. While we continue to have many good friends in Colorado, we have a strong distaste for the public infrastructure.
Wolf: Chat room guests Kellie Smith, V. Jones, and others want to know how you intend to find the real killers by living in Georgia. Wouldn't you want to stay in the area and cooperate with the police investigation?
John Ramsey: Currently, to our knowledge, there is no police investigation going on. Our investigators are all located in Colorado, and I talk to them on almost a daily basis. I've made several trips to Colorado, and will spend as much time in Colorado as necessary to move the investigation forward.
Wolf: Nita from Georgia and others ask: "How is Burke doing today? How do you shield him from publicity? What sort of questions does he ask about JonBenet?"
Patsy Ramsey: Burke is asleep right now. We don't have a television, we don't subscribe to any magazines or newspapers. And our school has been very good about sheltering him any time there is being chased by tabloid reporters and the like.
John Ramsey: Burke has a good set of friends who care about him and tease him about things a normal 13yo boy gets teased about. But I don't think they discuss anything that they might see in the news or the supermarkets.
Wolf: Many of our readers ask if you are covering up for Burke. They think he might have accidentally killed his little sister and that you tried to save him the pain of facing this trauma. How do you react to that?
John Ramsey: Burke was a 9yo child when JonBenet was killed. The blow to JonBenet's head was powerful enough to bring down a 300-pound man. This blow was administered by an adult male. So, to presume that a 9yo child could so viciously and brutally attack another child is foolishness.
Wolf: Mrs. Ramsey, with these interviews that you've done in the past few days and what's gone on in the past few weeks, do you feel somewhat hardened?
Patsy Ramsey: I do not feel hardened, I feel committed to finding the killer of my child. It was not an easy task writing this book. But each day is difficult and every day will be difficult. But I have an obligation to my daughter to find out who is responsible for this and I will not stop until that's done.
Gail Clugston: Have there been any other threats made against your family since JonBenet's murder that the public has not been made aware of? Other readers would like to know whether this tragedy increased your concern for your son's safety.
John Ramsey: We have received an occasional threatening letter, always written anonymously and obviously written by someone who's unstable. We believe that we need to be extra vigilant with Burke because we have learned not only are there a lot of very good people in the world, but there are also people who are fundamentally evil, sadly.
Wolf: Several readers have asked why the headstone on your daughter's grave reads Dec. 25th when she was found Dec. 26th.
John Ramsey: When I found JonBenet, her body was cool to the touch, so we didn't know for sure when she died. I didn't want the world to ever forget what it did to my daughter on Christmas night, and for that reason I specifically chose December 25th to put on her headstone. I knew we would be criticized for that by the skeptics, but I felt strongly that I didn't want the world to ever forget what a monster did to my child on Christmas night.
Mariah Lovato: Have you had any thoughts of suing the Colorado police for all the problems that they have caused you in the past three years? If so, what are some of the specific wrongs you think you suffered?
John Ramsey: We believe that our civil rights were horribly violated and that would be a complaint that would be filed in a federal court of law. We don't know how difficult or what the point of that might be other than to hold those who violated our civil rights accountable. What we do know is that this problem is not isolated and unfortunately happens to people every day in other parts of the country, but we just don't know about it. It's a big problem.
Wolf: Often when a child is killed, the investigation focuses on the child's parents. What do you say to parents who are in your situation? When do you think the police go too far in investigating a juvenile homicide?
John Ramsey: First of all, 100 percent of the time, the police focus on the parents. Sadly, what the statistics don't show is that when a parent has in fact murdered their child, there is always a long history of problems that lead up to such a horrible crime. These problems are known by social service agencies, they're known by relatives, they're known by school officials, these problems may be prior child abuse, drugs, alcohol. But when a child is murdered and there is no previous history of any problem, the police go too far in applying the standard answer: "The parents must have done it because the parents always do it." People do not live a normal, trouble-free life, then one night turn into a monster, brutally murder their child, and then return to normal. That just doesn't happen. There's always a history and a pattern leading up to that kind of crime.
Wolf: When do you think police lost control of the investigation? Was all hope lost when they failed to isolate the home after JonBenet was thought to be kidnapped? Or was it later?
John Ramsey: The real tragedy of the investigation was that it ended on December 26, 1996. The police concluded immediately that the parents did it and they failed to objectively look at the evidence or pursue other leads. The investigation therefore was doomed to failure. The police did collect good evidence, however, that gives us hope that we will be able to find and convict the killer. But, you have to look at the evidence.
lulu: If the male DNA was not Mr Ramseys, how could the police possibly think you were involved?
John Ramsey: That's a good question. We believe that the DNA will turn out to be a very important clue to finding the killer. The police always considered the DNA "a problem" because it did so conflict with their theory that the father must have done it.
Patricia Kauffman: Why didn't you insist on the FBI coming into the investigation? This seems like a logical thing for a man of your intelligence and worldliness.
John Ramsey: I absolutely should have insisted. However I was told by the police that the FBI was involved and was coming and I trusted them to be telling the truth, when in fact we found out later that they had refused to allow the FBI to come into the house. I absolutely should have escalated our cry for help beyond the local police. I would recommend that anyone who is faced with such a serious crime as a kidnapping ensure that they personally contact every government agency that they can and not rely on the local police to do that.
Wolf: Many of our readers said that "Hitech" boots are often worn by law enforcement personnel. Has the "Hitech" shoe print been traced to the manufacturer of that shoe to determine exactly what type of shoe it is?
John Ramsey: I don't know. We've been told that it is a popular style of shoe worn by law enforcement. It was not connected to any of the police that were there on the 26th. Again, we feel that this is a valuable clue that will lead us to the killer.
Wolf: A number of readers, including Matthew from Three Rivers, TX, would like to know about the alarm system in your home. Why wasn't the alarm set on the house that night, especially on all the windows including that broken window downstairs? There were christmas presents, jewels, cash
John Ramsey: We thought we lived in a very safe town. We had not used the alarm system ever since we lived there. It was unreliable and it was the type of system that had a very large siren in the house and the theory was that the siren was so loud that it would drive out anyone in the house, so we did not set it for fear that if it went off accidentally, it would be a very frightening event for anyone in the house.In retrospect, I wish I would have changed the siren to an external siren and used the alarm system. But we thought we lived in a safe community.
Patsy Ramsey: There is no such thing.
John Ramsey: We have learned that there is no such thing.
SydneySkye429: The ransom note stated that they would contact you by a certain time. It has been said that as that time frame passed, neither of you commented on or questioned why there was no contact. If that is true, then why did neither of you react to the fact there was no phone call?
John Ramsey: The ransom note said: "I will call you tomorrow by 10 a.m." We did not know whether tomorrow was the 27th , which in fact was tomorrow by the time we were reading the note. I was afraid that I would have to wait until the 27th to hear from the kidnapper. The note also said "Your journey will be long, so get plenty of rest." So there was never any conclusive indication that we should expect a call by 10 a.m. on the 26th, and in fact we didn't expect that call for sure by then.
justamom: Why do you think the kidnapper asked for an amount so small $118,000 and that matched John's bonus of that year?
John Ramsey: That's a very good question. I have wondered that myself and only the killer knows the answer. We believe that the number 118 has some significance to the killer and that along with the ownership of a stun gun should help us identify who this creature was.
tall-p: My question is for Patsy Ramsey. Why did she fail to pick up the ransom note? Why didn't she carry the note to the telephone and read the pertinent parts over the phone to the police? That only seems natural. The note is the only REAL link to her missing daughter. Thank you.
Patsy Ramsey: I don't know why I did anything the way I did that morning. When you realize that one of your children is missing, you are in a state of panic and distress that is unimaginable. John was down on the floor reading the note, I was standing next to him by the wall, I grabbed the phone. screaming into the phone and trying to explain to the operator on the other end what our trouble was and for her to send help immediately.
Wolf: Several readers ask Mr. Ramsey if it is true that he is no longer friendly with the person who was with him when his daughter's body was found. Why?
John Ramsey: We certainly still consider the Whites friends. I think it was a very traumatic experience for them, and I frankly believe that the police biased them against us by telling them that we suspected them in the murder of our daughter. That is sad, but we believe that's what happened.
Wolf: Did you ever think you were being framed for this murder by the real killers? What evidence do you have that this is true?
John Ramsey: If the real killer had wanted to frame us, he would not have left a ransom note. That, along with the DNA evidence, is probably the most significant piece of evidence we have to conclusively convict the killer. We have been told that with a 3 page hand written ransom note, it will be possible to conclusively identify the killer once the right suspect is identified.
Wolf: Several readers want to know why the two of you had separate attorneys.
John Ramsey: We asked the same question ourselves and were told that in our U.S. legal system, one attorney cannot speak for two people. It made no sense to us at the time but we were told that that is what was required.
Charles from Birmingham, AL: In the 20/20 interview, why did John Ramsey answer all the legal questions and Patsy Ramsey only answered personal questions?
John Ramsey: It was purely coincidental I guess. It just turned out that way.
Patsy Ramsey: That was unintentional if it did turn out that way. It was not planned out that way.
Vicki Banner: What organizations, foundations, charities will benefit from the proceeds of your book?
John Ramsey: The proceeds of our book will be used to pay legal expenses and will then go to the foundation we set up to honor JonBenet. That foundation will focus its efforts in the future on protecting children against predators, through legislation and heightening and awareness of potential predators that may be in our midst.
Wolf: You say you want to find the real killer. But you declined to exhume your daughter to find out such things as whether a stun gun was used against her. Can you defend that decision, when experts say that there's a good chance they could still test for stun gun marks?
John Ramsey: Experts have told us conclusively that a stun gun was used in the murder of our daughter. As her father, who had just painfully laid her to rest, I could not make the decision to disturb her. That is not a decision that a father should be asked to make.
Wolf: Do you believe charges will ever be brought against your daughter's killer or killers? What are you doing to see that justice is done?
John Ramsey: We've been told by experienced homicide investigators that this is a solveable crime. We're not looking for a needle in a haystack. The person we're looking for was in Boulder, Colorado on Dec 25th, had access to a stun gun, knew how to use a garrotte, the number 118 meant something and the letters SBTC meant something. This is a small universe of people and someone out there will know who this is. This crime will be solved ultimately because someone will realize they know this person and will come forward with the tip that is needed to convict the killer. We absolutely believe this will happen.
Wolf: We at ABCNEWS.com thank you both for answering questions directly from our viewers. We want to know if you have any final thoughts over this past hour. I'm sure this is still very painful for both of you. How did it feel in this hour being confronted in this way?
Patsy Ramsey: This is no more hurtful than it has been every day since the loss of JonBenet. Every day is a sad day without her. For us to complete the grieving process, we must find out who is responsible for this, and we will not rest until this is done.
John Ramsey: We appreciate the opportunity to respond to these questions directly.
Wolf: Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey, thank you for joining us tonight and thanks to all of you who submitted questions. Don't forget to join us at ABCNEWS.com every day for complete breaking news coverage, in-depth analysis and exclusive Internet programming.