Titles are tinsel, power a corruptor,
glory a bubble, and excessive wealth a
libel on its possessor.
Persy Bysshe Shelley
Declaration of Rights (1812) article 27
A year before JonBenet was born, seventy-five agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation swooped down upon the Rocky Flats nuclear armaments plant in Golden, Colorado, twelve miles south of Boulder. Years earlier, based on a tip the feds had received from a fired employee, Jim Stone, the Department of Justice had begun investigating the Department of Energy (DOE) under the elder Bush administration. Managers for Rockwell, Int., the multi-billion dollar company contracted to run the nuclear trigger factory, had conspired with DOE officials to falsify records, ignore Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements and had criminally polluted the air and water of Colorado. The plutonium poisoning wasn’t occasional or accidental. Because of the enormous size of the case, with hundreds of thousands of documents describing years of nuclear pollution, a special grand jury was brought into existence to investigate this single case, Special Federal Grand Jury (SGJ) 89-2. As its term came to an end, SGJ 89-2 concluded that the Rocky Flats plant comprised “an ongoing criminal enterprise.”
Thank God For Tabloids
Jim Stone worked for Rockwell, Int. from 1980 to 1986 as an engineer. He wrote weekly reports about environmental problems. His managers ignored both the reports and the environmental poisoning. In fact, his employer resented his efforts to clean up Rocky Flats, chastised him for it and ultimately fired him. Stone blew the whistle on the corporation’s plutonium poisoning by going to the FBI, and a local Denver tabloid,Westword, which published his allegations. Westword was the only newspaper in Colorado, or the nation, to doggedly pursue the story of years old corruption, corporate greed and government complicity.
“I was mad, damn mad,” Stone said. “Since it’s illegal to shoot the bastards, I went to the FBI instead.” Soil samples at Rocky Flats in 1972 produced plutonium contamination 10 to 200 times greater than at nuclear test sites , seventeen years before the FBI raid.
Stone feared for his life after providing Westword with his claims and documentation. Not only did the tabloid print the whistle blower’s story, but it continued to investigate, ultimately forcing the mainstream media, The Denver Post and The Rocky Mountain News, to acknowledge and report the reality and the severity of the crimes. It took a tabloid and an FBI raid to blow the lid off the case. The jurors’ eighteen months of work on SGJ 89-2 was repudiated by the same US District Attorney who had ordered the investigation.
When the Bush Department of Justice (DOJ) investigated the Bush DOE, the press should have uncovered the political intrigue. But the story just didn’t have legs. Only a few “environmental wackos” from Boulder and fringe peace activists, protesting the presence of a nuclear weapons factory so close to Denver, cared. Why should anyone care? There was no sex. There was no beaten, bloodied and sexually tortured corpse of an innocent little girl. There was no mystery. There was no public outcry carried day after day in the press over the special justice for the rich. Cancer from long term poisoning that won’t show up for years doesn’t carry the immediacy of horror and danger necessary to make bombshell headlines.
Rockwell, Int. pled guilty to ten charges of violating federal hazardous waste disposal and clean water laws. The usual Washington corruption is so deeply infused into the American way of life that one more among the frequent whitewashes hardly captures national attention. A few former grand jurors silenced by threats of jail time if they went public doesn’t excite the camera, lights and action the way a sexually molested and tortured beauty princess does. The facts surrounding the Rocky Flats Five were not mysterious, but they were subpoenaed into secrecy.
During his defense of the Rocky Flats Five, Hal Haddon hardly, if ever, was mentioned. During the Ramsey murder investigation, he could not easily hide his behind the scenes applications of law and access to power.
The Rocky Flats Five
SGJ 89-2 filed to indict both the DOE and Rockwell, Int. managers and supervisors for their acts of plutonium pollution and for the cover-up as well. Haddon, Morgan & Foreman represented the following Rockwell, Int. employees: George Campbell, Jack Erfurd, Kirk McKinley, Ed Naimon and William Weston. These were the “Rocky Flats five.” These men had conspired to poison Colorado’s air and water. Just as a police officer, a prosecutor, or a judge, is forgiven certain acts in the performance of duties, Rockwell, Int. employees believed they were protected from government prosecution. The DOE appeared to have approved of their criminal conduct, or so their lawyers argued, under a grant of governmental immunity. The truth is that when a government employee, police officer or DOE official, conspires to commit a criminal act with a civilian, individual thief or corporate head, he does expose himself to criminal prosecution.
Through superb assistance of their counsel, Hal Haddon, the managers at Rockwell, Int. got off the hook. The corporation paid a fine of $18,500,000 and was ordered to clean up the site. That punishment for criminal environmental pollution was less than a penny on the dollar for the value of Rockwell, Int. The 2006 deadline came and went with renewed accusations of ongoing pollution. Environmentalists claimed the groundwater crossed Indiana Street in eastern Jefferson County and into residential areas. Rockwell, Int. divested itself of the plant in 1996. Boeing Corporation took it over. None of the Rocky Flats five served time in prison, nor paid fines. They never went to trial.
The United State’s District Attorney for Colorado, Mike Norton, a Republican serving in the elder Bush administration, refused to sign SGJ 89-2’s indictment. In fact, when members of the runaway grand jury tried to make the acts of corruption public, the Bush appointee threatened to put the grand jury members in jail for leaking the results of their legal and moral efforts.
From Defense To Offense
The intersections of Interstate 70, east and west, and Interstate 25, north and south, facilitated narcotics traffic in Denver. Following Haddon’s stint with the public defender’s office, in 1976 and 1977, he was appointed by then Democrat Governor Richard Lamm as a special prosecutor for the Drug Enforcement Task Force. He worked as a grand jury prosecutor. In those years, Columbian drug lords fed the American appetite for cocaine. Haddon’s plum appointment from the Lamm Administration, with pull from his friends in the Democrat party, gave him both more power as a special grand jury prosecutor than most people had ever known. There he learned essential skills in grand jury procedures.
A grand jury prosecutor can use a grant of immunity from prosecution, and thus pressure a witness to testify despite a Fifth Amendment claim against self‑incrimination. Failure to testify amounts to contempt of court and jail time until testimony is forthcoming. That tool, the grant of immunity, has brought about more indictments and convictions (both inside and outside of the war on drugs) than any amount of investigative police work. Given a choice of talking to the grand jury and naming everyone he can to save his own skin, or shunning the proceeding and going to jail, most people talk. A father will talk about his son, an employee about her employer, even a lawyer about his client. Few secrets can be kept from a grand jury. On the other hand, to the benefit of the prosecutor’s toolkit of inquisition, the entire proceedings are held in secret. A grand jury is the closest vestige of the Star Chamber since its abolishment in 1641.
As a special grand jury prosecutor, Haddon learned how a prosecutor indicts “a ham sandwich.” Working for the Drug Enforcement Task Force, Haddon made use of subpoenas to bring suspects into secret meetings of the grand jury. Grand jurors are simply citizens chosen at random to serve as an “investigative” body for the government. They range from being rubber ducks, floating in the soapy tub of a prosecutor’s housecleaning, to rubber stampers of his decision to file charges. Grand jurors do not select the cases or call the witnesses, the prosecutor does. Now and ten, their individual courage must surface in the indictment of murderers, despite their secrecy.
The jurors may ask questions and the jurors may vote for an indictment. But, if the prosecutor does not want to proceed, he can refuse to sign the indictment. Mike Norton refused to indict the Rocky Flats Five of SGJ 89-2. The jurors may wish to issue a report, but they may not speak a word about the evidence presented to them, nor publicly express their moral outrage at a failure to indict, for want of a prosecutor’s signature. A grand jury is a prosecutor’s dream come true. He can ask any question of any person without a pesky defense attorney injecting doubt and he can instruct the grand jury to indict whomever he wishes; or he can, despite a jury’s decision, choose not to indict.
In his time as a special grand jury prosecutor, a criminal defense lawyer and political mastermind, Haddon made many friends in District Attorney’s offices in Colorado. He and Democrat Alex Hunter had known each other for years. Haddon served as the campaign manager for presidential hopeful Gary Hart, and Hunter served as Hart’s chairman in Boulder. That is politics at the top of the Colorado food chain. Haddon had to construct no Machiavellian scheme of the sort used to overwhelm the DOJ in the case of the Rocky Flats five. Once hired by John and Patsy, Haddon’s knowledge and connections served him well. They served the Ramseys well and all the lawyers were paid, very, very well. The Ramseys got what they paid for: freedom from police and judicial confrontation. If it had been only a few phone calls, calling in a few old debts, maybe a lunch or two, it would have been easy money. But, this case, all those pesky reporters forced lawyers to work hard, and yet harder, to keep their clients from never going to trial.
Campbell, Erfurd, McKinley, Naimon and Weston got their fifteen minutes in the headlines in October of 1992. Westword Editor, Patricia Calhoun, and writers, Brien Abbas and Mike O’Keeffe, forced the news onto reluctant city editors’ tables at theDenver Post and the Rocky Mountain News. The runaway grand jury, SGJ 89-2, ignored and orphaned by Norton once the deal was made, desperately wanted to go public. They sought to disavow the U.S. District Attorney’s refusal to indict. They believed that serious crimes had been committed and that the U.S. Attorney had failed the people of Colorado.
U.S. Federal Judge Sherman Finesilver assured the jurors that they would go to jail if they talked. The foreman of SGJ 89-2, Wes McKinley, was so sickened by the corruption he saw that he ran for U.S. Congress, hoping to bring forth a voice for integrity. He was roundly defeated. Grand Jury silence is golden. Finally, in 2004, McKinley ran for was elected to the Colorado legislature. His first bill introduced was to warn visitors at the Rocky Flats Plant of nuclear pollution and health risks. He continues in the legislature today, introducing legislation to protect the public for nuclear waste from Rocky Flats.
Hunter, in the Ramsey case, led the Boulder Grand Jury down a similar, though more public, path, one that would result in no indictment for famously rich clients. But, as Hunter stated during the impaneling of the grand jury, he “had no interest in a runaway grand jury that would leave him with an unwinable trial.” The Haddon law firm purchased a converted mansion/office building on Denver’s Capitol Hill at 150 East 10th Avenue, complete with swimming pool, after the Rockwell, Int. case. John and Patsy took a $600,000 advance on their book, The Death of Innocence. Thank goodness. The public appetite helped pay their lawyers.
While only a perversion of law under the American Constitution could have prevailed over the honest members of SGJ 89-2 and their desire to indict the men poisoning Colorado at Rocky Flats, the founding fathers also provided a means to expose the perversions they knew would evolve. Only Free Speech and a Free Press could have exposed the violation of grand jurors in the Rocky Flats five case. Despite the overheated wailings of the “traditional” press, lawyers, politicians and wealthy, grieving parents, only the free press, and the free press of free enterprise, the “tabloid” press, could expose the imprecision of the law when meting out redress to folks like the Rocky Flats five or a John and Patsy Ramsey.
When the Boulder County Grand Jury did not indict John and/or Patsy and declined to issue a report, Haddon’s work was done. He probably could have stayed on to abuse the Ramsey accusers with the kind of junkyard law suits since undertaken by L. Lin Wood. But, that’s not the kind of law he practices. Haddon doesn’t chase ambulances. He doesn’t need to. Once the grand jury quit and the Ramseys were out of danger, Hal Haddon knew it was time to disassociate himself from the scandal and move on. And he did.
Gideon V. Wainwright
In 1963, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren made a decision that forever changed the American criminal justice system. In the case of Gideon v. Wainwright, a homeless man was accused of breaking into a pool room in Florida and was charged with a felony. Gideon asked for a lawyer and claimed that the United States Constitution guaranteed him the right to an attorney. The trial judge explained to him that, in Florida, only a person charged with a capital offense, an offense that could result in execution, could have a lawyer appointed for him. The judge then permitted the prosecution to go forward and Gideon was found guilty. The once homeless man filed his appeal from a Florida prison.
“Gideon conducted his defense about as well as could be expected for a layman,”Justice Black wrote for the Supreme Court in his analysis of the facts. Black also wrote that Gideon was denied his Sixth Amendment right to counsel. The State of Florida did not have the right to limit the right to counsel to only capital offenses. Every state owes every citizen the rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
The Warren court exceeded the glacial speed of earlier Supreme Courts in extending to all citizens the freedoms of the Bill of Rights. Gideon v. Wainwright resulted in the acknowledgment of the right to representation by counsel to anyone, in any court, in any state, charged with a felony. That right to counsel was later expanded to protect any person charged with a crime for which he could be imprisoned. This, in turn, led to the necessity of public defenders’ offices throughout the United States.
The Miranda decision, famous from television and the movies (where the police officer dutifully informs the bad guy that he has the right to remain silent, to be represented by an attorney and that anything he says can and will be used against him) arose under the Warren court. To force a citizen to speak to a police officer or a prosecutor violates the Fifth Amendment’s prohibition of forcing testimony against one’s self. The courts, though, do not consider corporations to be citizens and corporations can be required to testify through their officers, directors and managers. Haddon had his hands full momentarily in defending the Rocky Flats five under that rule of law. While the Constitution grants a citizen a right to speak or not to speak, federal grand jury rules can force testimony by offering immunity from prosecution. Silence under rules of secrecy can also be enforced. As administered by the Bush Administration’s U.S. Attorney, Mike Norton, grand jury secrecy outweighed the freedom of speech clause in the Bill of Rights for all twenty-two jurors of SGJ 89-2.
Hired guns of law, braggadocios like Johnny Cochran and private intellectual giants like Haddon, earn their pay by finding the gaps in the evidence, the assumptions, the errors and apply the law as needed to their client’s defense. One of Cochran’s famous quips regarding his client O.J. Simpson, when the football great flew into a rage during a jailhouse conference, was, ‘I’m glad I’m not a blonde.” No one, not even a “hired gun” like Cochran wants to set the vicious murderer of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman free. In principle perhaps, Norton didn’t want to usurp the rights of SGJ 89-2 to Freedom of Speech, but he did. Those rights happened to interfere with business agendas, political clout and the conscientious application of law at professional rates.
While Patrick Burke had the brains and the skills to defend Patsy, he didn’t have the political inside that Haddon brought to the table. Neither did University of Colorado law professor, Patrick Furman, nor the other partners at Haddon’s firm. That power came into Haddon’s hands through decades of political party loyalty, strategizing and financial support of the major players in the Colorado Democrat Party.
Haddon’s behind-the-scenes power emerged in the 1970’s partly due to the Watergate scandal that cost Nixon his presidency and filled the U.S House of Representatives with many first term Democrats, including Colorado’s Pat Schroeder, Tim Wirth and Gary Hart. Hal Haddon hitched his wagon to the rising star of the Junior Senator from Colorado, Gary Hart. His legal experience, highlighted through his political relationships, helped Haddon develop the strategy for derailing SGJ 89-2’s duty to indict the culprits in the Rocky Flats poisoning case. To defend his client, Rockwell, Int., Haddon forced the Republican administration of George Bush the elder to pressure his appointee, U.S. Attorney Ken Norton, to drop the case. Had the President failed to capitulate to the threats of disclosure by the Rocky Flats five, his supporters, some of whom he had installed in the Department of Energy, could have faced criminal charges.
Bush had a choice. He could see members of his own DOE face a trial for criminally polluting the environment, or he could permit stepping upon free speech rights and frustrating the civic duty of jurors by allowing them to be silenced. He could watch Haddon’s clients squeal on his appointees, or he could direct his U.S. District Attorney to sweep the crimes under the rug of grand jury secrecy. Like Haddon, Bush understood his own best interests and those of his appointees. Truthful disclosure and acceptance of responsibility for the crimes never appeared to enter the minds of the Bush administration as a reasonable option. The grand jury’s evaluation of the evidence didn’t matter.
From Peanuts To Politics
Young turks of criminal defense such as Haddon, Morgan & Foreman, graduated from law schools during an age of protest starting with a “teach-in” at the University of Michigan in 1965, organized against the escalation of the war in Vietnam. These new lawyers came into their professional lives bristling with revolutionary new ideas for a government by the people and for law upholding the rights of the people.
Alex Hunter comes from the same school of liberal enthusiasm. His assumption of the District Attorney’s Office in 1972 was hip and liberal. He established a no nonsense approach to a court system clogged with firebrand lawyers demanding trials. He replaced the right to trial with an opportunity to plea bargain. The lawyers got paid and the defendants got more or less time and/or fines than they deserved. This was an easy path for prosecutors and defense lawyers alike. Money was made and saved by all but those accused of crimes and denied access to a trial. Hunter was popular; the courts saved time and made money with fines squeezed out of the guilty pleas, especially when the party pleading guilty was innocent.
“I have a heavy heart,” said Hunter when his grand jury failed to bring forth any resolution to Colorado’s mystery of the 20th century. One might reasonably translate “heavy heart” in this instance as empty conscience. He had undermined the Boulder Police Department with his catastrophic news leaks, and, with a politically, not a judicially motivated, grand jury investigation, he had hogtied the truth. Hunter appears to have never intended to sign an indictment.
Only a fool of a lawyer would allow clients such as John or Patsy to talk to the police given the circumstances of their case. After John contacted Brian Morgan of his and Haddon’s law firm, a wall protecting their silence closed around any further information the police or Hunter’s office would obtain from the plausible suspects. What the lawyers knew they had to do was to keep private as many facts and as much information as possible, away from the prying eyes of the press as much as the police.
A well-advised client of any criminal defense lawyer does not give a statement to the police. An honest citizen, innocent of any crime, can confuse a fact, forget a detail or raise a suspicion under the pressure and emotional stress of a police interrogation. To offer a police investigator any information begs the application of the Miranda warning, “any statement you make can and will be used against you.” Whether his clients were innocent or guilty, Haddon, Morgan and Foreman gave correct and competent legal advice.
Although Douglas, the Ramsey profiler, recommended early on the release of the entire ransom note, the Ramsey lawyers clearly saw that all of the media, not just the tabloids, would pounce on the obvious – Patsy’s handwriting. The deliberate rhetorical style of the note points to an obvious act of staging. The pen and paper came from her own kitchen. The defense team needed time, and lots of it, to establish “facts,” invisible or otherwise, that would counter the obvious absurdity of an “intruder” writing such a confessional document. Far more importantly, the lawyers needed time to prepare their clients to respond to police and public demands that they “talk.”
Cheap Talk – No Talk – Money Talk
While in Atlanta for JonBenet’s funeral, far from the protection of their lawyers, the Ramseys decided to grant an interview to CNN’s Brian Cabell on January 1, 1997. Journalists immediately asked the obvious: “Why are the Ramseys talking on nationwide television, but refusing to talk to the police?” John Ramsey said, during Cabell’s interview, that the Boulder Police had been “marvelous.” Patsy Ramsey called them “wonderful.” Haddon’s firm, whose defense included damning the Boulder Police Department, was dismayed. The solution to the talkative Ramseys occurred through Pat Korton, a Washington D.C. public relations operative, hired to handle the Ramseys. Thereafter, the Ramsey public relations push trashed the police. Perhaps this interview, this journalistic plum, given to CNN, caused the network to overtly side with the Ramseys in their coverage, and later to promote the intruder theory, Lou Smit, L. Lin. Wood, etc. to the exclusion of common sense and the trail the evidence pointed.
Haddon’s firm didn’t yet know if a murder trial was in the cards for John. If so, public relations consultants would need to create a warmer image of John than had appeared during the first days after the discovery of JonBenet’s body. Meanwhile, Patsy, with her slowed, slurred speech appeared near narcosis. Her tears and public whining to “keep your babies close,” angered Boulder authorities, who had found absolutely no evidence of an intruder. The Ramsey team would have to revise her public image as well. If John’s icy visage and emotionless denials of complicity in his daughter’s death failed to inspire sympathy, Patsy’s public dramatization of tragic innocence was a tapestry of guilt-ridden mannerisms. Drugged out or sober, Patsy could sink the couple with overacting, a flair-up of her temper or another Freudian blunder like the one during the CNN interview when she brought up the notorious Texas infanticides in the Susan Smith case.
No matter how earnestly the Warren Court of the 1960’s wished to provide “equal protection” for the Gideons and Mirandas of the United States, no public defender’s office in the nation would consider hiring a public relations firm as part of a criminal defense. As a matter of fact, criminal defense lawyers typically don’t worry about public relations, or how their client “looks” to the public. They worry more seriously about witnesses, evidence and how their client will look to a jury.
John Ramsey had hired Morgan of the Haddon, Morgan & Foreman firm, to represent himself. For Patsy, John had hired Patrick Burke of Boulder and University of Colorado law professor, Patrick Furman. The investment in all of these high powered lawyers puzzled many who watched the unfolding drama. The Ramseys were acting on precisely the correct legal advice, however bizarre their actions may seem in response to the “kidnapping” of their daughter. By separating the defense into two teams, both teams recruited and masterminded by Haddon, the lawyers avoided a conflict of loyalties to the individual clients. The team was prepared for either of the parents to blame the other for JonBenet’s death, and/or later testify against the other to save his or her own skin. Good lawyers avoid serious ethical problems. Legal ethics do not permit a lawyer to represent clients with competing legal interests. Interestingly, the famous Douglas, while he admitted to working for John, and proclaimed John either the greatest liar he’d ever met or innocent, specifically stated that he did not work for Patsy.
As to courtroom skills, knowledge and experience, Patrick Burke is first class and listed in Best Lawyers in America. It was Burke who asked the Boulder Police for a copy of the ransom note, and got it. Thus John and Patsy’s lawyers obtained critical, smoking gun evidence in the murder investigation. The Colorado Revised Statutes provide for release of discovery after a crime is charged.Burke’s coup, the ransom note, and the lawyers of Haddon, Morgan and Foreman, Pat Korton, the PR man, L. Lin Wood, the implacable civil litigator, Lou Smit, the retired cop and all of the paid professionals worked tirelessly. The result? Neither parent was separated, handcuffed, jailed, charged or called as a grand jury witness in JonBenet’s death.
Quiet! Genius At Work
Haddon has never sought headlines as do lawyers cozy with tabloids or talking heads on networks. He shuns newspaper moments unlike F Lee Bailey, Johnny Cochran or Alan Dershowitz. He’s comfortable in old cowboy boots and leaves the uncertainty of uncontrolled limelight to others. While Gary Hart could be seen struggling to raise money from individual donors to fund his presidential nomination bid in 1988, it was Haddon who worked the magic behind the scenes to bring in the real money. It was Haddon who kept Hart’s bid alive, against all odds, until Hart’s own “Monkey Business” sunk his presidential aspirations beyond even Haddon’s repair. Though Hart made a fool of himself, Haddon didn’t – and doesn’t. He remains active in the politics of Colorado to this day. His access to governors, senators, legislators, prosecutors and judges – yes, judges – is unparalleled in Colorado. Nobody has the behind the scene power of a Hal Haddon, except the clients who can afford to buy it.
Most lawyers in Colorado and in the United States revere Haddon. His simplicity in style and manners belie what most recognize as a genius’ intellect. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from law school and was the editor of Duke Law Journal. Coupled with his steaming intellect and ambition is a lifelong struggle with a temper he’s willing to vent. Lawyers in Colorado can attest to the long held differences Haddon holds, sometimes for acts his offenders don’t even know had been committed. Coming through the Ramsey case as Haddon has, he has found new persons of misfortune, fame, riches and often held in disdain. He stands out with his good sense to stay above the fray. Haddon doesn’t go to the press to complain, or to boast. His method is to think, to overwhelmingly prepare and to win the client’s case.
Haddon’s law office mansion on East 10th Avenue in Denver contains a glass enclosed “safe” room with a massive conference table. Even the most sophisticated surveillance operative and high tech gadgets would find it daunting, if not impossible, to bug conversations in that room. That kind of security doesn’t come cheap, and when the security appears to have been broken, it’s cause for alarm.
The media sharks cavorting in the JonBenet Ramsey waters outraged Haddon and frightened any number of his partners and employees. To make matters worse, Michael Taggart, lawyer for the Oklahoma City Bomber, Terry Nichols, used the offices at Haddon’s firm as his base during that trial in Federal Court. The scrutiny of the press and federal agents focused on the once impenetrable security features of the mansion on East 10th Avenue, turning secrets into products for some. The kind of money that flooded Denver and Boulder for information about the violent, lustful killing of a six-year-old beauty princess will buy any kind of information. Once big media money comes in to chase a story, no sacred rule of confidentiality applies.
Tabloid reporters sent investigators to go through the trash at the law office on East 10th Avenue. Very likely they were going through the trash at the homes of the Ramseys many lawyers, and quite likely the Ramsey “safe houses” provided by Jay Elowsky or Susan Stine. Lewis’ investigators identified every person working inside the Haddon law firm building. Relatives in Georgia, friends in Michigan, employees and relatives of Access Graphics, the Boulder Police Department and any other church mouse, little bird, nut cake or fruit fly in the country who had seen or heard, or thought he had heard or seen, anything about the murder were checked out, contacted and mined for information. That kind of scrutiny, a scrutiny that Haddon had seen destroy Hart’s presidential campaign, forced the lawyers protecting the rights of the Ramseys’ to prepare a plan to outflank the tabloid press.
The underlying theory of the legal system in the United States of America is that if a wrong has been committed, the truth will come out through witnesses by their testimony in court and that a jury of the people, individual peers, will determine the truth. The underlying theory of the Bill of Rights’ First Amendment is that free speech and a free press will expose any dishonesty in government bodies or officials. Overreaching, brittle and cold-blooded as the American judicial system may have grown over the years, freedom of expression and the willingness to expose the truth that those in power don’t want to hear or have known remains a constant. The willingness of the press to report any aspect of a person’s public or private life has grown only with money, power and influence. The First Amendment, backed by sufficient and well-connected money, had exposed Nixon’s Watergate and Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky scandals to the point of impeachment. The free press has shown the world evidence that a Durham, North Carolina prosecutor, Mike Nifong, would put a LaCrosse team in jail for a race baiting re-election campaign. And, despite the DNA evidence O.J. Simpson left at Nicole Simpson’s Brentwood estate, that evidence was ignored, fumbled or confabulated in favor of rhetoric and the performance of his lawyers.
Americans accused of committing crimes against society commonly do not face their accusers in an open courtroom. Their right to a jury of peers who must be convinced of their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is commonly bargained away with a plea. When the rich and powerful proclaim, as Leona Helmsley did, that “only little people” must comply with the mandates of government, and pay taxes, it makes headlines. We like to see the arrogant shamed and forced to go to court. Headlines blossom when the rich and powerful appear to get away with murder. Rich becomes lurid, death highly expensively and the public buy tickets to the tragedy.
When the media converges on a poor family involved in the tragic death of a child, the reporters go to the police and the prosecutors for information, publish it and leave the culprits to fight it out in court as charges are inevitably filed. When that same media discovers that it is someone rich and famous, the focus changes, the editors, as if suddenly on steroids, expose the ridiculous and the sublime, support the real and the fantastic and make decisions about airing trivia instead of news. The public’s right to know is driven by what it wants to know. To meet the demand, American media supplies a fairly tale murder fit for a tabloid – for profit.
Shooting The Messengers
Haddon’s style is not to run for political office, but to finance and manage campaigns for others such as Gary Hart. He doesn’t select all of the Democrat candidates for district attorney, or governor or the legislature, but he greases the machinery which elects them. He doesn’t like to see himself in the headlines. When tabloid bad boy Lewis, talk show host Boyles and all the others in the world of journalism opened the lid to Pandora’s Box in the Ramsey case, Haddon may well have felt like Prometheus, forced by Zeus, to feed his liver to an eagle each morning.
The Ramseys’ public relations pit bull, Pat Korton, cast all reporters, tabloid, traditional, electronic or otherwise as greedy, inconsiderate, blood sucking reprobates. He capitalized on the distrust and claimed contempt the American public hold for tabloids. The aspersions of Korton stung many in the media. Journalists such as Carol McKinley of Fox News and Niki Hayden of the Boulder Daily Camera thought of themselves as honest reporters trying to do their job.
Hayden reports in Schiller’s book, Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, how Korton staged the photo opportunity with her fellow parishioners at St John’s church on January 5, 1997. Neither she nor the others meant to pose as John and Patsy’s human shield against the media, or to become part of the public relations gimmick it was. The Reverend Hoverstock, too, felt betrayed and embarrassed by his friends, the Ramseys, and their use of his congregation.
Carol McKinley had worked for years as a reporter for KOA radio in Denver and had developed long term relationships with the CBI, district attorneys’ offices and innumerable other local sources. She used her sources in the Ramsey case to air stories that became a stepping stone to the national stage on Fox News. Bright, beautiful and photogenic, McKinley helped give the Ramsey case legs, with her own footwork. Although most journalists claim they do not pay for information, they often did for the Ramsey case. They paid for hotels and meals, plane fares and airport limousine services. Some paid a copyright fee, or an honorarium, though only a fraction compared to what the tabloids would pay.
For McKinley or Charlie Brennan at the Rocky Mountain News, who co-wrote Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, or former tabloid reporter, Jeff Shapiro, Pat Korton’s characterizations of them as “journalists” only enhanced their careers. Others were able to buy very nice, new toys, comforts and durable goods.
The down and dirty reporters and editors on the case like Lewis of The Globe, John South and Don Gentile of the National Enquirer and Richard Gooding of The Star, were never intimidated by John and Patsy’s lawyers, nor unnecessarily polite in their information gathering. The public relations consultants only provoked the tabloid reporters to ask, “What are they hiding?” The tabloids got faster information than the mainstream press because they paid more money for it.
The cops distrusted each other and Hunter’s office. Information they reported to him was fumbled (or funneled) into the hands of the press and then into the hands of the defense team. The police failed to accept that Lewis and the tabloids were driving the Ramsey murder investigation because they couldn’t match his ego, imagination, energy, insight or resources.
Dealing with all the goop, goo and gush of a lush and trashy story was not what Haddon’s carefully developed career had prepared him for and he must have hated it. The loss of control of the autopsy and crime scene photographs, plus the public pressure to see the entire ransom note, brought his case under public scrutiny. His clients had made their daughter into a miniature Playboy pinup, and their CNN television interview showed them parading her sexuality as “normal.” Certainly the tabloids did not see JonBenet’s childhood as normal. They do not bother to report on “normal.” Haddon knew that tabloid operatives had approached other lawyers in his building, probing for access to his files. Vans with multiple antennas and darkly tinted windows buzzed the mansion on East 10th Avenue trolling for the frequencies of wireless telephone conversations. Satellite trucks parked outside the Ramsey hideouts. Data from police files shot out of Hunter’s office like laser guided missiles with Lewis calling in the coordinates. The media circus had relegated Haddon to the role of lion tamer, cast cops as clowns and dressed the district attorney as Dumbo, who, unfortunately, could not fly. Lewis was the Ringmaster.
Haddon, who could place a call to President Bill Clinton or Governor Roy Romer and expect to be answered in person, had been knocked out of his comfortable position in control. This naturally caused him to think ever more deeply and passionately. Geraldo Rivera was mentioning him. Larry King and the anchors at every cable new outletknew of him. Chuck Green, columnist for the Denver Post and Peter Boyles on talk radio, made regular fodder of the Ramseys as obvious suspects, and of the high level legal representation they called corruption the Ramseys were prepared to purchase.
Among Haddon’s treasured items is a dog eared, scarred and highlighted edition of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The book portrays the political comedy of a corrupt, drug using, drug dealing and revolutionary lawyer who is not afraid of anything. He lives by his own inner code of what is right and what is wrong, and goes about making things “right” through hardly legal means. Thompson’s character, under the withering tabloid scrutiny Haddon endured, would never have been free to pull off his escapades.
Haddon saw his powers of anonymity and behind-the-scenes manipulations begin to evaporate. Americans could point at him and his team and assess blame for the special treatment of the Ramseys. Haddon may have wanted to bail out, but he couldn’t, and he wouldn’t. After taking the money, he would never walk away from his clients’ defense. More to the point, Haddon is a fierce and tireless competitor. He found something he liked about the Ramsey case. There is more to law than money when a lawyer reaches the status of a Hal Haddon. His entire persona is defined by winning. He would use his comfortable, anonymous, behind-the-closed-door methods against the tabloids, those ugly grocery store magazines that no one admits reading and enjoying, but that sell so well that the publishers have more money than even the Ramseys. They may buy ink by the barrel, but Haddon’s reputation wasn’t built on losing.
On April 14, 1997, Haddon, Burke and Foreman had written a letter to Dave Thomas, the district attorney in Jefferson County, demanding that charges of commercial bribery must be filed against both Craig Lewis and his tabloid lawyer, Thomas C. Miller.
Jim Burkhalter wanted a statement from Miller that would positively identify Lewis as his client. Without the cooperation of Miller, Thomas could not prosecute. At the meeting, Burkhalter and Miller turned on their tape recorders and began to question each other. Miller refused to name his client based upon the confidentiality of the lawyer/client relationship that Lewis had invoked. He denied any wrongdoing by his client or himself at the home of John and Patsy’s handwriting expert, Donald Vacca’s. Burkhalter claimed no knowledge of the Ramsey investigation. In the end, nothing seemed to have been gained on either side. The commercial bribery investigation sputtered to a stop. It would be over two years before either Lewis or Miller would give a second thought to the events of April Fool’s Day, 1997.
In 1997 and 1998, Lewis was appearing regularly on the Peter Boyles talk show to discuss the progress, or lack of progress, in the Ramsey investigation. Week after week, John and Patsy’s lawyers had to learn from The Globe about yet another leak from Hunter’s office. Morning after morning Lewis would spill lurid details over the air to Boyles. Boyles and his listeners sneered at the incompetence of the police and Hunter in Boulder. Brash, and truly a believer in his own superiority as an investigator, reporter and editor, Lewis wasn’t afraid to stick his tongue out at a man as powerful as Haddon.
Everybody associated with Hunter’s office, including Haddon, knew that Lewis andThe Globe were the brains and the money behind the purloined autopsy photographs, but Lewis never came close enough to the transaction to qualify for an arrest. Lewis had also obtained crime scene photographs taken by John and Patsy’s private investigators. According to the lawyers protecting Lewis and The Globe, the crime scene photographs had been found by a source for Lewis in a dumpster in the alley behind a photo lab. That claim sounds as ludicrous as the ransom note having been written by an “intruder.”
On January 17, 1997, when JonBenet’s autopsy photos appeared in The Globe, Haddon had reason to lose his temper. But, his genius told him to use the release of the autopsy photographs to bolster his attacks on the press in general and on the Boulder Police Department in particular. The brutality evident in the autopsy photographs incensed the public at the monster responsible. The cops, as usual, were the losers.
The Globe got the autopsy photos scoop. Grocery stores in Boulder removed The Globe issue with the autopsy photographs from their racks, while it sold out nationwide. But, Haddon still wasn’t very happy. He knew, and so did the cops and Hunter, that Lewis would continue to goose the investigators, and chase the story. The ingenious Ramsey legal team copyrighted the crime scene photos and The Globeagreed to return the autopsy photographs.
Mr. Nice Guy
Hunter liked Lewis. He liked giving him tips and scoops in exchange for the “softball” coverage The Globe gave his office. The Globe’s juicy stories never focused much on Hunter’s ineptitude nor probed the cozy political relationship between Hunter and the prime suspects’ lawyers. And, why should they? There was no titillating sex in that kind of story. No blood, no sex. Lewis shrewdly figured it was more profitable to hold onto Hunter as a source than to offend him.
The cops, on the other hand, hated Lewis. They hated him for being a journalist, and particularly loathed him for an investigation of the murder than they had not been permitted to do. After all, Lewis had the kind of advantages lost by the police through the liberal rulings of the Warren court. He didn’t have to wait for subpoenas or search warrants from Hunter’s office the way Detectives Thomas or Gossage did. All too often, the detectives couldn’t obtain any assistance from Hunter. Meanwhile, all Lewis had to do was to make a phone call to one of his information brokers, and, voilá, he had phone numbers, or bank statements or credit card records to use for leads.
The demonization of the press had worked to some extent in taking pressure off of the Ramseys. Filing charges against information brokers like Rapp and against editors like Lewis would point the unfocused public wrath for JonBenet’s slaughter at the press, and away from John and Patsy.
Although all of the extraordinary publicity pointing to the John and Patsy’s involvement would allow Haddon to argue that his clients were being denied an opportunity to a fair trial, better lawyering would avoid a trial altogether. After all, JonBenet was dead. None of the lawyers were hired to voice concern for the dead child. John and Patsy were paying enough that the lawyers didn’t need a trial to plump up their billable hours. Plus, if only the press could be muzzled, Haddon’s political colleague, Hunter, might even transcend his scandalous handling of this case to win another four years in office. But, the press, led by Ringmaster Craig Lewis kept barking their “MOM DID IT!” headlines.
In January, 1998, the Ramseys flew off to Madrid, Spain, ostensibly for John to investigate his business opportunities with Jose Martin of Jaleo Software. Lewis followed them with a crew of photographers. Before the plane had landed in Europe, Lewis had lawyers in the United States researching Spain’s extradition laws. Those laws are some of the most restrictive in the world. If an extradition could lead to the imposition of the death penalty, Spanish authorities will not extradite the accused. Lewis and his editors speculated that the Ramseys might not have embarked on a legitimate business trip. Perhaps they were looking for asylum? This proved unnecessary, but at the time it provided titillating copy, tabloid evidence of guilt and it is not against the law to speculate on high profile suspects who have the money to jet off to Europe.
Lewis followed Patsy to an art museum in Madrid where she paused at a painting of a mother and child. Her “anguish” went into the story. His photographers either lost the couple’s trail or missed more photogenic opportunities, so The Globe settled for photographs of the beds that John and Patsy had slept in. On the return flight to the United States, Lewis says he passed a note to Patsy and identified himself to her. He was thunderstruck when she left her seat, came back to where he sat and talked with him for nearly half an hour. What he observed during those moments in the air was her lust for the attention of the press, even tabloid press, and her guts. John Ramsey resigned as President and CEO of Jaleo Software in April, 1999.
When Boulder Detective Thomas resigned in disgust, Lewis pestered him again and again for the inside story. More ominously, Lewis had located old family photographs of the cop’s mother, who had died when Thomas was a child. He then mailed copies of the photographs to Thomas with an unstated, though underlying suggestion that an interview would be nice. That “coaxing,” along with tape recordings made by formerGlobe reporter, Shapiro, of Lewis and his editors, eventually led to the filing of extortion charges against Lewis in Jefferson County where the commercial bribery charges simmered for a couple of years.
As one of Boulder’s lead investigators, Thomas had had to put up with daily international news stories abusing the integrity and competence of his work and that of his police department. Although Vanity Fair and St Martin’s Press paid peanuts compared to what Lewis had to offer, the former cop, thoroughly enraged at the tabloids, ultimately sold out. He had plenty of reason for his anger. He also received more money than a cop could imagine for his inside story, which, should have assuaged his anger, but not his conscious for never making the arrest.
Five years after the murder, in December, 2002, Lewis, then an editor for The Star, was still milking the Ramsey story. He published a story about traces of JonBenet’s urine in sheets the tabloid claimed Patsy had washed the morning of the murder. “Proof” that “PATSY DID IT!” At the same time, he arranged for a twelve-year-old model to pose as JonBenet for The Globe. Using computer imagery, photo editors replaced the model’s head with an age-progressed picture of JonBenet’s face. “Here is what JonBenet would look like today!”
Media insiders of the Ramsey investigation say Thomas gave a copy of the ransom note to Ann Bardach, whose famous Vanity Fair article identifying the feud between the police and Hunter’s office, along with the text of the ransom note, appeared in the October, 1997 issue of Vanity Fair. The facts fit this assertion all the way down to the typeface used in both the titles in the magazine article and the jacket of the tell-all book. Regardless of Bardach’s source, Ellis Armstead, one of John and Patsy’s private investigators, wrote a letter to Sergeant Tom Wickman of the Boulder Police Department on August 25, 1997, asking permission to release and publish the ransom note on Sunday, August 31, 1997, eight months after the Ramseys’ profiler, Douglas, had recommended the release. It appears Armstead’s request was denied by the Boulder Police Department. Nevertheless, the handwritten note was reproduced inNewsweek immediately after Bardach’s article hit the newsstands.
Lewis went into a vainglorious rage at Bardach’s scoop. She hadn’t tracked down any handwriting experts or taken the kind of risks that gave Lewis his redline adrenaline rushes. Worse yet, Bardach’s story scooped the rest of the media by lancing the wound of virulent antagonism between the Boulder Police Department and Hunter. That made two scoops for Vanity Fair in the same issue; Lewis had been sitting on the story of Hunter’s duplicitous style and insider mouth for months. The Globe editor surmised that the highbrows at Vanity Fair couldn’t get the kind of help from Hunter’s office that he could.
Outfoxing Alex Hunter
John and Patsy, with the aid of their lawyers, had circled the wagons from day one of their criminal defense representation. The public relations team couldn’t throw enough dust into the eyes of everyone following the story. Sympathetic adherents to Christian dogma such as the Reverend Hoverstock and investigator Lou Smit, diverted outrage at the murder to anger at the tabloids. The strategy of stonewalling, dicing facts, propagandizing an intruder theory and denigrating any possible witness, then picking off dissenters, worked.
Ernest Hemingway advised that a good reporter had to have a “built in, shock proof, crap detector,” and there were hundreds of “good” reporters on this case. It had taken a wizardly strategy, fueled with enough money to buy political access in district attorneys’ offices, Democrat Governor Roy Romer’s office, even help from President Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall, to engineer both an escape from the filing of criminal charges and to plant a seed of doubt in the minds of many who cannot imagine the carnage that was done to JonBenet. Even those blessed with professional level “crap detectors” like Brennan of the Rocky Mountain News, McKinley of Fox News, and author Schiller, took the bait of an “intruder” theory.
While the Boulder Police Department had regrouped and wanted to regain at least an appearance of competence, their honest efforts were minimized by John and Patsy’s legal team, ignored by Hunter and ridiculed by the press. The only investigation of the murder being taken seriously was conducted on the front pages of tabloids and reduced to sound bites on national television. The Boulder Police assumed the role of the Keystone Cops of Colorado.
Haddon’s repeated instructions to Hunter that he could not proceed against John and Patsy without “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” had worn down the edges of retribution and “justice” like sandpaper on soft wood. The prosecutor’s rhetoric had no bite, no traction, and people turned their attention to what was going on outside Hunter’s office in the tabloids.
Seeing the futility of his political situation, Hunter finally decided to punt the Ramsey investigation to the Boulder Grand Jury 1998 (GJ 98). He expected the drawn out process of the grand jury to diffuse his appearance of helplessness and shift the finger-pointing of the press, the cops and the public away form him and toward the anonymous grand jurors, and special prosecutor, Michael Kane. That special prosecutor in August, 2002, angrily denounced the intruder theory, yet, in the secret and controlled chambers of GJ 98, legal manipulation of the evidence and witnesses presented became obvious from the deliberations. In this small place, the grand jury room in Boulder, Colorado, justice submitted to prostitution. The pimps were lawyers, politicians and the press. JonBenet’s corpse served as the object of desire, and the public, the Johns. Hunter wanted desperately to wrestle the news of this world famous American tragedy from headlines, except, too often, he needed a headline featuring his own heroism.
Haddon had diminished Hunter like a stick of butter on a hot stove. Once Hunter had shifted the Ramsey case into the hands of the grand jury, John and Patsy had won the Police argument that they had collected “probable cause”. The argument over “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” became the cross for Hunter to bear. Haddon and the phalanx of lawyers he led, knew that because of this lengthy public relations campaign they may coax forth a verdict of “reasonable doubt” in a trial. Better representation of any client is to avoid a trial and its life changing events. The privacy of grand jury deliberations, rather than in a trial in the open light of a courtroom is something few Americans can afford. It did not matter if the grand jury abided by its duty and found the probable cause that the police had found and voted to indict. Indictments exist only in the hands of prosecutors, and Hunter would not sign an indictment that didn’t contain enough evidence to satisfy the press. Hunter had to ask himself, “Can I prove it beyond a reasonable doubt?” not “Shall I make an arrest?”
The difference between probable cause in the hands of police officers and probable cause in the hands of the grand jury lies both in the way the evidence is obtained and in its presentation. In Colorado law, the police most commonly make an arrest, provide their evidence to the district attorney’s office and the district attorney makes the charging decision. Few felony cases come to Colorado district courtrooms through grand jury indictment. The District Attorney certainly does not have to have “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” to file charges. Judges routinely find probable cause in the testimony of police officers. Hunter could not have doubted that the Boulder Police Department believed they had probable cause to file charges. He just didn’t have any prospects for a plea bargain by the Ramseys or a chance of conviction.
The grand jury assembled in Boulder in 1998. It received testimony from the police, from the Ramsey’s housekeeper, Hoffman-Pugh, Burke Ramsey (who admitted being awake), and from Lou Smit, a religious zealot and once respected investigator. Smit had passionately committed himself to John and Patsy’s innocence. He also demanded to testify before GJ 98. He says his resignation from the investigation had nothing to do with the religion he shares with John and Patsy. He insists that only an intruder could have murdered JonBenet. “I’ve arrested a lot of Christians,” he said, defending himself against the reasonable assumption that his support of the Ramseys is driven by his shared religious beliefs.
Thomas resigned as a police investigator over his disappointment in Hunter’s dismissal of credible evidence. Thomas knew he had as much right to present evidence to the grand jury as Lou Smit. He didn’t have the approval or direction of the John and Patsy’s lawyers to testify nor the money to force the issue, and thus was not allowed to do so. Another Boulder police officer presented the police case. They had a lot of probable cause.
The grand jurors got to hear the incredible intruder theory from Smit. The jurors did not hear from psychiatrist, Dr. Hodges, whose book had presented psycho-forensic evidence of Patsy’s hand behind the ransom note as well as her subliminal motivation to kill her child. He based this theory on the personality, verbal style and confessional ideations, “thoughtprints,” throughout the ransom note. Dr. Hodges had tried to present his evidence to the police and Hunter’s office. He would have gladly testified to the grand jury, but he, like Thomas, did not have the political and legal backing needed to present unsolicited evidence to the grand jurors.
The jurors of GJ 98 did not hear from John and Patsy, who were not subpoenaed. This is the classic absurdity of the Ramsey case. GJ 98 had the power to force them to talk! GJ 98 did not hear from any of the three independent handwriting experts who had provided affidavits in Boulder District Court for Darnay Hoffman attesting to Patsy’s authorship of the ransom note. Instead, the grand jurors heard only that Patsy could not be excluded from having written the ransom note. One has to wonder, given the significant uncertainty surrounding the ransom note, why testimony concerning it was so severely curtailed.
Hunter, like Mike Norton in the Rocky Flats plutonium poisoning case, found himself in the position of choosing between the pursuits of justice or political favor. As Detective Thomas reported in his book, following the police department’s strong presentation to the Hunter’s office, Hunter announced that, “This is a political decision.” That, for once, was the truth.
The Ramseys were free to say, “See we were never indicted. We can’t be guilty.” Meanwhile, the tabloids spread doubt. One week SURELY Patsy did it. The next week, “SHOCKING NEW EVIDENCE PROVES” John did it. The next week, only Burke could have done it. The next week … COPS SHRED RAMSEY ALIBI! Finally, the series of contradictory stories was picked up by the traditional press, which then claimed that they cannot judge the Ramseys. There just aren’t enough “facts.” We all crave the sport of a trial and a jury’s verdict. Perhaps that’s why Geraldo Rivera got the idea for a mock jury that found John and Patsy were responsible for their daughter’s death.
The Phoenix rises
The unsolved nature of JonBenet’s death gave the story a life of its own. For ten years, police and district attorney investigators supposedly sought to unravel the mystery through the bought method of denying John, Patsy or Burke’s possible involvement. As Hunter’s political career died, another district attorney, Mary Keenan Lacy, was elected to his office. Asked about the case during her first campaign, Lacy refused to comment on the “ongoing” investigation. Once in office, the wolf shed her clothing.
Not only did Lacy ignore “the parents did it” theory, but she publicly endorsed the intruder theory with so loud and shrill a voice that none who would breathe a word against John and Patsy could be heard, or find much empathy or promotions within her office. To add insult to Boulder’s already embarrassed police force, she hired none other than the retired Lou Smit to spearhead her Ramsey investigation. By that calculated act, she curried the favor of John and Patsy and disemboweled the threatened civil lawsuit by the Ramseys’ famous junkyard lawyer from Atlanta should her office rile his famously unindicted clients. The right of the press to investigate and report, and the right of individuals to think about and comment upon law and justice in the United States of America continues to exist on paper. In fact, most Ramsey critics are limited to private conversations or blogs on the internet as the courage to publish reports contrary to the intruder theory results in yet another “Shut up!” lawsuit.
Keenan Lacy’s pursuit of her responsibilities as the top law enforcement official in Boulder permitted a cult following of Ramsey conspiracy theorists, internet gadflies and millions of clueless Americans to accept the media’s pull of wool over their own eyes. Finding an absurd intruder theory easier to swallow than matricide, or patricide, and, more important, knowing the intruder theory would lower liable and slander insurance rates, the press, in all their furor to report the truth, began spewing the bilge from the intruder theory during ratings sweeps as though it was Patsy’s own mother’s milk. Treating the public as stupid became and remains one of the hallmarks of the media since before and after the Ramsey case.
With no probable cause beyond a lunatic’s confession, Mary Keenan Lacy leaped into the JonBenet fire pit of ruined careers and reputations by suddenly arresting John Karr. Based upon the accusations of Michael Tracy, a journalism professor at the University of Colorado cut from the same mold of academic buffoonery as disgraced professor, Ward Churchill, Keenan Lacy had Karr arrested in Thailand and flown to the United States to face a crime he did not commit. He is poor, of course, and as a pedophile, doesn’t appear as romantic or tragic as either John or Patsy once did. Interestingly enough, Michael Tracy had been on the Ramsey payroll since they funded his first “documentary” espousing their innocence in 1998.
For her part, at least Mary Keenan Lacy brought the war and killing in the Middle East to a halt for a few moments as ALL the media abandoned the wars in Iraq and Lebanon to focus on Karr as Americans returned to the new spectacle in JonBenet’s pitiful death. At least this troubled lunatic, John Karr, who would take the black pill before denying either his love for JonBenet or his guilt in her murder, got what he wanted from JonBenet. He is forever united with his delusion, his passionate fantasy of love for a beautiful, murdered little girl. His tragedy is now joined to JonBenet’s tragedy. Their tragedy pales in comparison to the monumental tragedy suffered by every man or woman who will ever enter a courtroom in the United States of America.
We may never really know what happened to JonBenet on that grisly December night, but each and every American can be certain that we have unmasked the justice system. There is one justice for the rich and a second, less benign justice, for the poor. As Machiavelli admonishes in his masterpiece, The Prince, “Hence it is necessary for a prince wishing to hold his own to know how to do wrong, and to make use of it or not according to necessity.”