[Chat log provided per About.Com Crime Page]
November 14, 2000
NOTE: This chat log was edited by the About.com Host to exclude errors and unessential conversation not specific between Mr Thomas and the Host.
Steve Thomas Chat (November 14, 2000)
crimeADM: Thanks for coming, Mr Thomas
stevethomas: Hello. Great to be back. So many familiar names on the line-up card to the right of my screen. I've been watching you this summer on the forums :) Thanks for having me back, looking forward to chatting with you all.
crimeADM: Do you think all the evidence should/will be released to the public?
stevethomas: Let me answer this as follows: I, and others, were surprised at DA Hunter's assertions through 2000 that the case was "moving forward" and he was actively working it. I, and others, felt differently, and I thought Hunter was perpetrating a fraud on the public, in his "justice is around the corner" comments. In the past week, Hunter has admitted that "the records of the case have been neatly compiled and stored."
stevethomas: as to issue (public's right to know versus allowing killer full access to ny records that have not been publicly released.
stevethomas: this is the argument, but the reality is this -- Boulder and DA's office is not going to make case public. No way, in my humble opinion.
stevethomas: as Hunter stated, it is safely stored away and neatly packed, DA's office is not about to release this case.
crimeADM: On Larry King, you gave John a "pass" on the murder. Do you suspect he abused JonBenet in any way?
stevethomas: As I've said previously, I do not think John Ramsey was the offender in this case. Either in the death of his daughter, or otherwise. I may be proved wrong someday, but I just didn't see it in this case. As I've said, I believe in my heart the mother was the offender.
crimeADM: Another "Larry King" question: Was there any special significance to having Chuck Green with you?
stevethomas: None whatsoever. he happened to share the flight, we had never met before that time.
crimeADM: In dealing with the various handwriting experts...was any mention made of the UK "pound" sign that appears in place of the dollar sign in front of the 18.000 figure?
crimeADM: Another Larry King question (actually, there are several in the queue): You seemed to have been wearing an earphone: Was somebody backstage advising you?
stevethomas: no. LOL. the earphone is simply to let you hear what all is going on, for them to advise when a commercial is ending, etc.
stevethomas: no, i don't have a team of advisors...
crimeADM: Two people asked this one: Do you believe, if you'd been on Larry King with Patsy and not John, you'd have been able to make her confess?
stevethomas: no. an environment to create a confession (as cops will tell you) is a very orchestrated environment used by good cops. not when millions of people are watching will a suspect confess his/her darkest secrets to you. a cop creates a one-on-one environment for this type of Q&A.
crimeADM: Do you believe it's Alex Hunter's ego that won't let him admit he's wrong?
stevethomas: i found it interesting in the recent interview concerning the DA race that Hunter was quoted as saying "It has been a real challenge for me to keep my mouth shut, because, well, it's hard for me to keep my mouth shut." Well, said Mr hunter. History is confirmed.
stevethomas: But we could go on for some time about Hunter, and there are too many questions in queue...
crimeADM: Are there any cell phone or long distance records for the Ramseys for December 1996? And if so, do they offer any useful clues?
stevethomas: In the book I talk about my frustrations in the obstruction in our efforts to obtain such records. In the Touch Tone investigation (peripherally related case) we found many, many useful records that may/may not have helped the Ramsey investigation. But we were prohibited from exploring them.
stevethomas: So as to Dec 1996 records - in hindsight, a heck of a lot more I wish we would have explored. When I left in 1998, people called in Dec 1996 long distance, had never been contacted.
crimeADM: Prohibited using what excuse?
stevethomas: he excuse was pathetic. Demuth, for example, as well as hofstrom, suggested asking the Ramseys permission. It was like the way servants treat the Queen of England, and it bothered me terribly. The right way to have done it was through the legal process of search warrants. heaven knows why it took so long, as they had not been procured, part of my frustration, before i resigned.
stevethomas: and when I wrote warrant(s) and took them to demuth for approval, they were rejected, despite our legal advisor in the bpd approving them. very frustrating!!!
crimeADM: Have you read John Douglas' recent book; and if so, what do you think of his interpretation of the case?
stevethomas: have not read it, though have been briefed on it. i will be diplomatic -- suffice it to say myself (and others in law enforcement currently) do not believe it was some teenage kid.
crimeADM: How different would this case have been handled if this had been a normal, middle-class family?
stevethomas: imho, drastically and completely different. the Ramseys were afforded opportunities, concessions, and privileges that i had never seen any other suspect afforded in any criminal investigation, ever. we could go on for hours on this topic alone.
crimeADM: Do you think Linda Hoffman-Pugh's book will shed any new light on this case?
stevethomas: i feel for LHP. she was so wronged, pointed out as a suspect. investigated upside down. i will read what she has to say. i think there are so many stories, so many perspectives out there from which we can all learn. jeff merrick is penning a book, trying to find a publisher. he has a fascinating story.
crimeADM: Why didn't you bypass the DA's office and go to a judge to get a warrant for the phone records?
stevethomas: amen. politics at its worst. although LEGALLY we could have done just that, the bpd didn't want to buck the DA's office. Lots of fights about that one. Even discussion about taking an arrest warrant straight to a judge, bypassing Hunter and his office. But no way bpd was going to do it, particularly with Beckner at the helm. He was eyeing the chief's chair, and that would have put him out of the running.
stevethomas: in fact, i was surprised, as were some other former/current bpd officers, after last week's DA election.
stevethomas: Beckner was quoted as saying "I am happy to see there are going to be changes in the DA's office. It is something we have been waiting for."
stevethomas: well, Beckner had the opportunity to inspire and force some changes, in the summer of 1998. Instead, he didn't. Instead, he gave me the "killer will have to live with their conscience" speech. Boulder continues to be this odd place, with the most dysfunctional and flawed justice system I have ever seen.
crimeADM: How soon on December 26 did the FBI become involved?
stevethomas: good Q, as Patsy on LKL suggested they weren't there. The FBI was involved from the early hours of the case, an FBI agent was at the house shortly after the body was found, the FBI was in the bpd sitroom during the morning while it was being investigated as a kidnapping. FBI wa sin early, despite Ramsey assertions otherwise.
crimeADM: What changes does Beckner anticipate?
stevethomas: have to ask him. hopefully he is wishing for a law-and-order type system to take shape. but with the DA being elected
stevethomas: as a matter of fact, the Boulder Camera newspaper astounded me with this quote:"Maybe that's because the region has gotten past JonBenet and is less critical in its judgment of Hunter and his prosecutors than the rest of the country."
stevethomas: EXCUSE ME? gotten past JB? unbelievable. and when Keenan mentioned during the campaign that "people are tired of that case(paraphr." I was near tears. Tell that to a murdered child, that people are tired of the case.
crimeADM: What's your opinion of "Sketchman", "Bootman", and the other "suspects" discussed since the publication of your book?
stevethomas: We don't have enough time or space for an adequate discussion. The police believe they have the right suspect and that the evidence is consistent with that suspect's involvement. So therefore, it stands to reason that I think little of Sketchman, Bootman, spiderman, or psychic-man.
crimeADM: Did you hear the 911 tape personally; and if so, once and for all, was Burke on it?
stevethomas: I heard the 911 tape. repeatedly, as did the other detectives. the consensus was unanimous, as supported by the enhancement -- there is a 3rd voice on the tape, appears to be Burke (unless there was someone else present who has never been identified...)
crimeADM: Were any Pull-ups found in the house, indicating a history of "accidents"?
stevethomas: diapers found in the house, memorialized on videotape of the crime scene
crimeADM: A follow-up to the 911 question: Many people swear they heard the tape on one talk-show or another. Is there any possibility that this happened?
stevethomas: as far as i know, the only people who heard the tape were involved in the investigation -- da's office people, bpd personnel, engineers who enhanced it. if someone is out on the talk shows saying they heard it, who is this/these person(s)?
crimeADM: How heavily were Merv Pugh and his friends investigated?
stevethomas: although the pugh's weren't my assignment, i know the cops who did that aspect of investigation. thorough, competent cops, like greg idler, for example, best cop i ever knew. these people were put under a microscope. and kane would have been all over it had there been any evidence suggesting pugh involvement.
crimeADM: Did John or Patsy leave the house the night of the 25/6?
stevethomas: million dollar question. or, as the detectives would say, the $118,000 question.
crimeADM: Do you give any credibility to the existence of a "secret society" in Boulder, of child molesters?
stevethomas: Boulder is an odd place, if you've never been there. Could write a book about that place alone. But as to such a conspiracy, this is my take: conspiracies involving multiple people, dozens or scores of people, don't hold up. Look at the recent jewelry heist in London, where 15 suspects nabbed. one of them talked. that is the way it usually happens. so for there to be some great, multi-person child pornography ring operating,
stevethomas: ...is beyond the pail. at the bpd, a whisper would have come across at some point. are there pedophiles there? yes. but some huge conspiratorial ring involving all strata of society? not in my opinion
crimeADM: Does the paperback edition have any significant additions?
stevethomas: there is an epilogue chapter, that brings us to date after the hardcover edition was closed for changes. I talk about the LKL show with the ramseys, the polygraph "fiasco", and the Aug 2000 meeting in Atlanta...
stevethomas: i talk about the DA's race, and it was too late to include, but I wish I could have mentioned Demuth's leaving the DA's office and going to work in Bynum's firm. This would have been the perfect closing chapter to my book...
stevethomas: because Hunter can snipe all he wants, but they just added an exclamation point to my book with that action.
crimeADM: If somebody came up with some information perhaps not already known by the investigators, what she he do with it?
stevethomas: great question -- limited options. the bpd has no one working the case full time. and i know what i saw at times gave me little faith in sending something to beckner or his administration. DA's office also garners little confidence. Too bad it is not the FBI's case, I've always felt, but not their jurisdiction. So if there is anything of relevance, I would suggest documenting it, copying it (if possible), sending it certified mail to BPD and asking for a response.
stevethomas: bill, give me jameson's best question of the night :)
crimeADM: I believe I just "activated" Jameson so she can ask her question
crimeADM: You're on, Jameson: Make it count!
jameson: Steve, thanks for taking the question. Since I have only one, this is it - - "Why wasn't Michael Helgoth's room searched when the sheriff's department advised that he may need to be looked at? (after his suicide - when a stun gun and Hi-Tec boots were clearly visible in the photos of his body..."
stevethomas: Re: photo you mention -- have you seen it? or is it someone "else" who is talking about stun guns and hi-tecs? i agree, if bpd didn't take the opportunity to look at it, even to discount it, it was a missed opportunity. but don't make hay out of something in left field. those inside the case didn't think it was stun gun, based on medical evidence. and the hi-tec boot has inherent chain of custody issues. thanks for the questions, sorry the space allows for only such a short answer.
crimeADM: Were the trash cans in the alley searched?
crimeADM: Was JonBenet definitely wearing the red turtleneck at the Whites' party?
stevethomas: no, she was wearing the white top in which her body was eventually found the next day.
crimeADM: For those flooding my screen with the same question: Mr. Thomas ASKED me to allow Jameson to ask her most important question
crimeADM: Will you be touring for the paperback edition of your book?
stevethomas: nothing like that planned. i have been blessed, though, in my life. it was very difficult leaving police work, as you know. and i knew the effect my resignation letter would have...
crimeADM: Do you expect to ever return to police work?
stevethomas: but since the release of the book, i have been welcomed by many law enforcement agencies to speak. in fact, just last month i was asked to speak to a group of FBI National Academy graduates. other law enforcement around the country has been most supportive. Ironic, isn't it, that it is only in Boulder where the DA's and BPD administration has a different view. Maybe because the little secret was let out of the bag.
stevethomas: so as to working in law enforcement, no...
stevethomas: but as to speaking and teaching how the mistakes of this case should Never be made again, the response has been unsolicited and overwhelming.
crimeADM: Why don't I open the room for the last minute or two and allow everybody to thank you for joining us
crimeADM: Definitely closing remarks!
crimeADM: After I personally thank you for being, once again, a great guest
stevethomas: First, let me address something I don't know if it made it on the site before -- the "firstname.lastname@example.org" is a good address for me. I have a mailing address now too, if needed. continued
stevethomas: Thanks to Mrs Brady, for her tireless efforts --several of the cops and those associated with case read there daily, and all appreciate her efforts. it is sad the case is dwindling, and that there is little news to report anymore. She has done a great job, all should be thankful. What an effort!
stevethomas: to JW and CS, I read there a few times a week -- I want to say so many of you are so knowledgeable about the case, in some cases more so than some that were involved inside the case. You often offer the best and brightest insights into the case. I am not the only one who reads there, "Both sides" do. Anyway, I cant say enough about many of you. Just stop the flaming, would ya'?
stevethomas: I want to thank you all for coming tonight. an hour goes so fast. there are so many of you I would love to meet someday. I know that like me, many of you are frustrated with the run of events in this case. But I know that someday, somewhere, somehow this case will be resolved. Prosecuted? Not likely. Resolved? I do believe.
stevethomas: Until then, I continue to look forward to your thoughts, and those of your colleagues. Although I cannot always answer each of you directly, I read EVERY ONE of the yahoo e-mails, and enjoy reading your comments. Thanks so much, and maybe we can do this again sometime. (Co much I want to say, so little time...)