http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_1914253,00.html DA backed intruder theory for years Mary Keenan's top suspect in JonBenet slaying was man who played Santa By Charlie Brennan, Rocky Mountain News April 25, 2003 BOULDER - District Attorney Mary Keenan went public April 7 with her belief that evidence in the JonBenet Ramsey case points to an intruder as the killer - not Patsy Ramsey. But sources familiar with Keenan and the case say this isn't a new view for Boulder's top prosecutor. Keenan, in fact, has supported the intruder theory for nearly five years, dating to the summer of 1998, according to the sources. Keenan's prime suspect was Bill McReynolds, who played Santa Claus at a Ramsey holiday party two nights before the Christmas 1996 murder of the 6-year-old beauty princess, the sources said. "She was real hot on him" as a suspect, said one source. "I would say she was real excited about it." Said another source close to the investigation, "She was hard-charging on Bill McReynolds. I'm basing this on my own conversations with her. She was convinced that McReynolds did it." ... ...The sources who said Keenan was once interested in McReynolds have not discussed the Ramsey case with her recently, and don't know her current thinking. Keenan declined to be interviewed. Since her election to succeed longtime Boulder District Attorney Alex Hunter in November 2000, Keenan has refused to answer reporters' questions on the controversial investigation, instead addressing it through prepared statements. Keenan originally agreed to be interviewed by the News on the condition that the Ramsey case would not be a topic of questioning. But, upon learning that a reporter was contacting people close to her, and that the questions touched on perhaps Colorado's most notorious unsolved slaying, Keenan canceled the interview. "I just can't be part of that," Keenan said. Keenan is not alone. Despite the passage of time, several of those closest to the case have grown, if anything, increasingly reluctant to be quoted on any aspect of the beleaguered murder probe. That is largely due to the success of Atlanta attorney L. Lin Wood, who represents JonBenet's parents, John and Patsy Ramsey. He has won dismissals of libel and slander cases against his clients as well as out-of-court settlements in cases they have brought against others. It was a Wood victory - the March 31 decision by U.S. District Judge Julie Carnes dismissing a libel and slander suit against the Ramseys by Boulder journalist Chris Wolf - that triggered Keenan's April 7 statement. Wolf had argued that the Ramseys slandered and libeled him in a book they co-authored by naming him as a suspect. Wolf contended they knew this to be false, because, he argued, they knew that JonBenet was killed by her mother. Wolf and his attorney, Darnay Hoffman, fell far short of making a convincing case that Patsy Ramsey killed her daughter, Carnes ruled in a 93-page opinion. Keenan followed that opinion with her own statement. "I agree with the Court's conclusion that 'the weight of the evidence is more consistent with the theory that an intruder murdered JonBenet than it is with a theory that Mrs. Ramsey did so,' " Keenan's statement read. Keenan refused to elaborate, but Wood gave several interviews saying that her statement was a turning point in the case. "This means that the nightmare that John and Patsy Ramsey have lived with, of being falsely accused of the murder of their daughter, is finally over," Wood said. Keenan, Wood added, "knows every piece of evidence." He called her "the voice of authority" concerning the Ramsey murder and praised both Keenan and Carnes as courageous fact-finders. He declined to comment for this story. It's not only law enforcement sources who say Keenan has long been a proponent of the intruder theory. A Boulder man who who has occasionally written on the case as a freelancer and has made a close study of JonBenet's murder remembers a conversation with Keenan during a chance encounter at a Boulder neighborhood grocery. "Her basis for believing the Ramseys are innocent, as she explained it to me, is that the Ramseys don't have a history of being abusive parents that would be apt to kill their child," said Frank Coffman, who knew Keenan from volunteering on her 2000 campaign for district attorney. Coffman said, "At least from what she told me about it, she was basing her opinion on the Ramseys' innocence on the fact that they don't fit the profile of murdering parents. This would have been the summer of 2000 that I talked to her." Keenan - who joined the Boulder prosecutors' office in 1983 - was far from a silent bystander in the early stages of the investigation. Over the course of three days from June 22 to June 24 in 1998 - following a major presentation by Boulder detectives to the district attorney's office but before Hunter's announcement that he would take the case to the grand jury - the Ramseys submitted to a second round of interrogations. Keenan made an impression on investigators at that time. Because the Ramseys distrusted Boulder police - who they believed were fixated on them as suspects - John Ramsey was interrogated by veteran El Paso County homicide investigator Lou Smit and grand jury specialist Michael Kane, while Patsy was grilled by Denver district attorney's investigator Tom Haney and Boulder prosecutor Trip DeMuth. All interviews were videotaped and every few hours, completed tapes were transported from the Broomfield Police Department - where the interviews were conducted to avoid media attention - to Boulder, where they were studied by Boulder detectives and prosecutors, including then-Deputy District Attorney Keenan. One source involved in those sessions recalls being told by colleagues that Keenan chided Haney for being too tough on Patsy Ramsey. "Mary really had her nose in it, and thought that the Ramseys were being really pushed around," said another key law enforcement source. Former Boulder police Detective Steve Thomas, who quit the department in 1998, wrote a book detailing his theory that Patsy Ramsey hit JonBenet in a flash of anger over bed-wetting. He eventually reached an out-of-court settlement after they sued him for his comments. In one section of his book, he wrote: "Alex Hunter said that he thought Patsy Ramsey was involved. That was more than offset by comments from his staff. Deputy DA Mary Keenan said the body language of John and Patsy wasn't suggestive of deception, and that men were not in a position to judge Patsy Ramsey's demeanor." Thomas wrote that Hunter's office was splitting into two camps. "A tentative plan was being drafted to assign three detectives to prosecutor Mike Kane to pursue the 'Ramsey theory,' and three more to Deputy DA Mary Keenan to go after the 'Intruder Theory.' Keenan, my sources said, was intent on entering the case by breaking it wide open and arresting the real killer." Thomas could not be reached for further comment about Keenan's role. Keenan is well-respected in Boulder as a strong victims' advocate. She established the Boulder County Sexual Assault Team, led sex offense prosecutions for Hunter's office and is co-founder of the Blue Sky Bridge Child Advocacy Center, a nonprofit organization specializing in helping children who are victims of sexual abuse and their families. One of the Ramsey-case veterans who spoke about Keenan only on the condition of anonymity said that her background appeared to affect her attitudes toward the Ramsey case. "Right after the (June 1998) interviews, she went in and sat down and spent two hours talking to the Ramseys about their suspicions about Santa Claus," the source said. "It was clear she thought this woman (Patsy Ramsey) was a victim. She is a very pro-woman prosecutor. Her whole life revolves around believing what women say. I think she is so empathetic she couldn't stand to watch someone, in her mind, being victimized."