[Transcript with Dateline Interview with John and Patsy; date = November 19, 1999; source = Justice Watch Forum]
REPORTER: Can you understand the public's fascination with this?
JR: Well I think it's a little bit voyeurism frankly. I think the media has created us into somebody they wanted us to be and that became an exciting soap opera that they didn't have to create.
DATELINE: john and patsy ramsey talking to a television reporter for the first time in more than a year. Voluntarily stepping back into the public eye just a month after the grand jury disbanded and no charges were filed against the ramseys or anyone else for the 1996 christmas night murder of their 6yo daughter jonbenet.
HUNTER: no charges have been filed
DATELINE: unindicted but scarred they say by all the unofficial accusations leveled against them
PR: we have been tried and convicted in the press every single day. We've been grieving the loss of our child everyday
JR: we have tried to be quiet, tried not to speak out we wanted the justice system to work its course to do its job without interruption. there was certainly over the last 2.5 yrs lots and lots of allegations and accusations made against us and our family we felt certainly strained not to respond to but want to.
DATELINE: the ramseys decision to do an interview surprised a lot of people not least among them the interviewer himself dan miller nbc affiliate wsmv in nashville.
DAN: the phone call came into the newsroom and when i walked in the door they said a guy has called and they want you to do an interview with john and patsy ramsey tomorrow.
DATELINE: and what did you think?
DAN: i thought well okay
DATELINE: as it turned out the ramseys were in nashville signing a contract to write a book. Their story of their daughter's death and its aftermath. The ramseys are writing their book for thomas nelson publishing which calls itself the largest publisher of bibles and inspirational books in the english language. The company says the ramseys will write about their faith in god and how it sustained them through the tragedy and the horrible accusations that ensued. Miller suspects the publisher was famliar with his work and his style.
DAN: i'm a realist. I know in an interview that somebody's not going to confess to you. I'm not a badgerer. I've gotten interviews in the past i think because of my style of interviewing.
DATELINE: you aren't an expert on this case. You hadn't followed it day in and day out. Did you really feel like you knew enough about the case to sit down and talk to the ramseys?
DAN: well you know no, i really didn't. I truly didn't understand why they picked me at that time. And probably still don't.
DATELINE: were there any conditions set on your interview with the ramseys
DAN: the publisher told me i had 15 minutes they wanted to talk about the book. And they would not discuss the night of the killing. We went 25min and we did get into areas away from the book.
DATELINE: less than a day after he got that unexpected call, dan miller sat down to talk to john and patsy ramsey.
This week wsmv released the tape to dateline.
REPORTER: Who will you aim this book at? Will it be the public, will it be the police, will it be the skeptics, will it be the parents of children who maybe have gone through something
PR: I don't think we're really attempting to aim it at any place. This is probably as much therapeutic as anything else. We've had to harbor a lot, we've had to shoulder a lot, we have a lot to tell.
JR: we really have two objectives in our lives going forward. One is trying to recapture the good name of our family to the degree we can. We are still very focused on trying to help an dfind the killer of our daughter.
DATELINE: before their daughter's murder they were the picture of a perfect family. John ramsey a self made millionare, patsy a former beauty queen, tough survivor of stage 4 ovarian cancer. They say they are focused on raising their son burke, now 13. Despite all the attention they've received they told dan miller there's a lot people don't know.
REPORTER: Do you anticipate there will be new info that people have no idea about
JR: I think there will be at lot new info because we have been created in the media as someone we aren't. And I think that will be new to a lot of people who don't know us except through the media.
REPORTER: new info about the case?
JR: Well I don't know, there's been so much info that has been leaked and made public, and in the public, some of it's correct some of it's not correct.
DATELINE: because of those leaks since the beginning of the case the ramseys have lived under a magnifying glass placed under an umbrella of suspicion according to boulder colorado police and subjected to intense and often intrusive media scrutiny.
REPORTER: I read somewhere where you are documenting some of the harassment in Atl by taking pictures of the photographers?
PR: They point these cameras at us but they don't like it very much when we point one back. They just can't stand that.
REPORTER: How often does it happen that you are recognized in public? And do you Ever find yourself wearing disguises or making yourselves so you are not recognized?
JR: No, uh, we are recognized
PR: probably at least weekly, sometimes daily depends on you know the circumstances
JR: we did discuss Patsy wearing a blond wig once but thought that would be great, they'll see me with a blonde, we know where that would go
REPORTER: a whole new story
JR:a whole new story
DATELINE: yet they say being recognized has led them to friends they didn't know they had.
JR: you know one of the things that's been very comforting to me is that when we are out in public anyone who has ever stopped us, don't I know you, aren't you the ramseys, usually they say aren't you jonbenet's parents, or aren't you jonbenet's dad, I'll say yes. Everytime it's been an out pouring of compassion, caring, and sympathy. And that's been really uplifting for us.
DATELINE: if some members of the public have been sympathetic to the ramseys, police and prosecutors have not. Despite last month's announcement there would be for now no charges filed in the case, investigators made it clear the ramseys are still under the so called umbrella of suspicion. The ramseys think that's unfair. But they also did not criticize as others have the way police have handled the investigation.
REPORTER: the boulder police have been criticized for botching this case. Did they do that?
JR: Well, you know, it was a tough morning. It was the day after christmas, people on holiday, we, I personally felt they, you know, given what we thought we were dealing with that morning they did the best that they could. They were compassionate, we thought were dealing with a kidnapping. I have never faulted them for that morning.
DATELINE: two weeks after the grand jury investigation ended, col gov bill owens announced he would not appoint a special prosecutor to investigate jonbenet's murder.
REPORTER: were you disappointed recently that the Gov did not appoint a special prosecutor to oversee this and left it in the hands of local authorities. do you feel that's where it should be
JR: well what we've wanted, and what we continue to want, is that the investigation cont, and that it be staffed, with, it doesn't need to be a huge staff, but people that are really experienced in homicides and this kind of crime. The last thing we want to have happen is for the investigation to be shelved.
PR: they had a whole crew of special prosecutors in the grand jury proceedings. they have had special prosecutors. We didn't need another special prosecutor. We need investigators.
DATELINE: during his oct 27th news conference two weeks after the grand jury announcement, said this:
OWENS:the killers in this case made some very serious mistakes. But they are also very smart. They have stone walled effectively and they've covered their tracks well....if i could speak to john and patsy ramsey i'd tell them to quit hiding behind their attorneys, quit hiding behind their pr firm. Come back to colorado, work with us to find the killers in this case no matter where that trail may lead.
REPORTER: I have to ask you about what the Gov, Gov Bill Owens said recently. If they are innocent he said they're sure not acting like they are. He urged you to quit hiding behind your attorneys and PR firm and to cooperate with the investigation. has he slandered you do you feel?
JR: Oh, uh, we've been so slandered so in the last two and half years it's hard to understand what slander is anymore. First of all I don't have a PR firm. We offered to meet with the gov and were refused. So
REPORTER: He refused to meet with you
DATELINE: owens' office says the ramseys attorneys did offer to arrange a meeting but says the gov did not think it appropriate to meet with people who are still considered suspects.
REPORTER: One other thing he said, and I'll get off this. He said you weren't behaving the way HE would if one of his children had been killed. He said I'd be at the police station saying what can I do to help. And you know that may be something that people do struggle with when they talk about this case. You left the city, you went away, can there be a perception that you're just not helping police?
PR: We left the city to bury our child and we came back to the city for our other child to finish school and to help any way we could to find the killer of our daughter.
DATELINE: jonbenet was the second child john ramsey lost. A daughter from a previous marriage was killed in a car accident. John ramsey responds strongly to criticism he did not act appropriately at the time of jonbenet's death.
JR: I take offense at anybody who says he didn't act right. I think I can write a book on how you act when you've lost a child. When you've lost a child nothing else matters. You really don't want to live. You're as rendered as low as you can possibly be without dying. And our focus was on laying JonBenet to rest properly and that's really all that mattered during that period of time.
DATELINE; the ramseys still have one child at home, jonbenet's brother burke, now in 7th grade. He testified before the gj. Prosecutors have said he had nothing to do with the murder. A lawyer for the ramseys says they will sue a supermarket tabloid that ran a story saying "burke did it".
REPORTER: What's it like to go through a grocery store and see the tabloid magazines with the pictures of JonBenet and the speculation and the accusations from one that your son burke did this, do you look at these things?
JR: you can't help but not see them
PR: right there in front of you
JR: it's tragic. we don't let Burke go into grocery stores, 7-11's, CBS type places, cause they're right there, you can't avoid them
REPORTER: how's he doing?
JR: He's doing very well as best we can tell. He's turning into a normal teenager with headphones and music and...
PR: video games
JR: grades could be better
DATELINE: back in colorado police have put almost all the investigative files in storage. But the prosecutors continue to analyze evidence. And the da can still file charges at any time.
REPORTER: would you be surprised if you were charged in this case? Would that blindside you?
JR: it would be a travesty of justice. absolutely
DATELINE: but the ramseys say in the strongest terms they want the investigation to continue despite all the signs investigators are still focused on them.
REPORTER: if this case is never solved will it fade away?
JR: our intent is not to let it fade away. we intend for it to be solved
PR: and if the publicity for this book keeps it hot, keeps it on the minds, and the forefront of the public, great, because somewhere out there is a killer. And we're going to find out who it is.
DATELINE: the ramseys say they'll use the proceeds from the book to pay their legal fees. Anymore profits they say will go to the jonbenet ramsey children's foundation set up to help children in their spiritual growth.