Mark Beckner’s Q&A February 21/22, 2015

Discussion in 'Justice for JonBenet Discussion - Public Forum' started by cynic, Mar 1, 2015.

  1. cynic

    cynic Member

    Below is my cleaned-up version of Beckner's AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit based on Google's cache of It (from a snapshot on Feb 25, 2015 09:16:42 GMT.)

    It is not complete, but it’s the best I could do given the fact that Beckner deleted his comments quickly and unexpectedly.

    Other related links:
    Charlie Brennan’s article on the AMA:
    Most complete, (and still available,) cached version of the Reddit web page:

    Peter Boyles interviews Michael Roberts and Alan Pendergast about Mark Beckner’s Q&A

    <iframe width="420" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    MP3 download:

    I am former Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner. I worked in law enforcement for 36 years, and headed the investigation into the JonBenet Ramsey murder.
    I have extensive police experience covering 36 years in law enforcement and the challenges were many, both good and bad. My career provided many great experiences to rely on in teaching and consulting.
    For 16 of my 36 years I was the Police Chief for the Boulder Police Department. I retired on April 1st, 2014. In 1998, I was named Police Chief with the task of making significant change in the department. Together, we were able to turn the department around and today the department enjoys a great reputation. The department now prides itself on being a leader in the police profession. The organization is centered on value based management, community policing, and high standards.
    In addition to organizational and personnel management, I have extensive experience in dealing with major events, crisis management, and media management.
    Since retirement, I am giving back my experience and knowledge through teaching and consulting. I currently teach for Norwich University in their criminal justice program.
    Past experience includes the following:
    Training Officer and Instructor Investigator Supervision Liquor Code Enforcement Hostage Negotiator Traffic Investigation Crime Scene Investigation Professional Standards Investigator Patrol Commander SWAT Commander Detective Commander Personnel Management College Instructor Ethics Instructor Criminal Justice Instructor
    I served on the Colorado Police Officer Standards and Training Board and on the Colorado Fraud and ID Theft Board.

    Question: What do you believe actually happened to JonBenet? Who do you think is responsible?

    Answer: We know from the evidence she was hit in the head very hard with an unknown object, possibly a flashlight or similar type item. The blow knocked her into deep unconsciousness, which could have led someone to believe she was dead. The strangulation came 45 minutes to two hours after the head strike, based on the swelling on the brain. While the head wound would have eventually killed her, the strangulation actually did kill her. The rest of the scene we believe was staged, including the vaginal trauma, to make it look like a kidnapping/assault gone bad. I have avoided saying who I believe is responsible and let the facts speak for themselves. There are several viable theories.

    Question: Can you comment on the usefulness of the new DNA testing that apparently exonerated the parents? I read Foreign Faction by James Kolar and he asserts that the DNA in no way exonerates them and, in fact, points to such an odd scenario (6 intruders) as the only possible solution outside of coincidental depositing that the idea that it exonerates the parents is ludicrous. I'd be very interested to see a rebuttal, if there is one. Thanks for doing this!
    Also, in Patsy's Christmas cards she sent that year, I read somewhere that she used an unfamiliar word, (can't remember what the word was) that was also used in the ransom note. Is this true?

    Answer: Sorry, I can't provide the rebuttal, as I agree with Jim Kolar. Exonerating anyone based on a small piece of evidence that has not yet been proven to even be connected to the crime is absurd in my opinion. You must look at any case in the totality of all the evidence, circumstances, statements, etc. in coming to conclusions. Mary Lacy, the DA who said the DNA exonerated them made up her mind years before that a mother could not do that to a child, thus the family was innocent. Even though we pointed out that it is not unheard of for mothers do such things.....and you would know that if you just watched the news.
    Wow, thanks for your answer! I think Mary Lacy damaged this case irrevocably, regardless of who committed the crime. Thanks again for doing this- I'd love to read a book from you as well!

    Question: When Patsy wrote out the sample ransom note for handwriting comparison, it is interesting that she wrote "$118,000" out fully in words (as if trying to be different from the note).
    Who writes out long numbers in words? Does this seem contrived to you?

    Answer: The handwriting experts noted several strange observations.

    Question: JBR was dressed when found, as far as I know. Does this mean the killer sexually molested her with the paintbrush handle and then dressed her back into her underwear and leggings before placing her body in the wine cellar?

    Answer: Yes.

    Question: Wow. That is interesting. I guess there wasn't a time problem for the killer.

    Answer: The killer also took the time to find a pad and sharpie pen, write a 2.5 page ransom note, fashion a garrote and choke her with it, then wrap her in a blanket with one of her favorite nightgowns and place her in a storage room in the basement. He/she/they then neatly put the pad and pen away and escaped without leaving much evidence.

    Question: The knot that was used tie the cord to on the brush handle to make the garotte was a very impressive professional knot. John was in the navy. Have you shown the knot to the US Naval Academy to check if they teach that kind of knot?
    Did the police manage to find any other knots used to fix things around the garden or house that may have had a similar construction?

    Answer: We had a knot expert look at them and none of them were anything complex. Many people probably could have tied the knots. Nothing similar was found in the home.

    Question: I was wondering if Mr. Becker ever visited other crime forums (other than Reddit like Websleuths) to gain a new perspective on different cases revealed to the public?
    On a side note, it seems overwhelming on the internet side of things that somehow the family was involved in the murder... but I was wondering if everyone else investigated had a concrete alibi. I'm a new Reddit or, but I've always been fascinated by unsolved mysteries, and the JonBenet Ramsey case is one of the most speculated ones I've heard about. After the Q&A session, I saw other sites dedicated to solving the case by listing evidence/clues and whatnot to support their findings... And one website I ran across in particular mentioned a 'secret Santa' in which a witness told investigators that the victim mentioned a mysterious Santa going to visit her after Christmas and it would be their secret. Was this lead ever followed through? It definitely sent shivers up my spine when I read it.

    Answer: Not everyone we investigated had a concrete alibi and some were pretty strange individuals, including sex offenders living in Boulder. However, we could not find any evidence to link any of them to the murder. We did interviews, handwriting analysis, fingerprints, and DNA on people we investigated. Nothing matched. The foreign DNA came from somewhere and if it is connected to the crime, then it had to come from an intruder. That's what makes this case so challenging.

    Question: So how could the parents not be arrested for neglect if there was evidence of long standing sexual abuse? I don't understand how they got away with so much. It was all about the money, wasn't it? If they'd been poor, the son would have been taken away and someone would have been convicted. I'm not saying you were negligent, just that our system is. But if someone came into my home and found one of my kids dead, and proof that she had been molested for a long time, I know that my other kid would be taken away from me.

    Answer: It was a question we had early on as well. The decision in this case was made by department of social services. We could not prove who was responsible for the prior abuse. Could it have come from someone outside the family who later returned to kill her?

    Question: Thank you for answering. It just seems that they could have been responsible for neglect even if it was determined that someone outside of the family did it, for not supervising enough and allowing it to occur. Was the son ever examined to see if he was abused?

    Answer: No evidence he was abused

    Question: Being from Boulder (actually living just south across baseline on 15th street) I have heard a few crazy rumours that I'm wondering if you can confirm?
    The first is that after the house sat on the market for years without selling, they remodeled it and bricked up the room in the basement where she was killed. Is this true? Is this common practice after a murder?

    Answer: I have not been in the house to know for sure, but I did hear that someone remodeled and the room where she was found no longer exists.

    Question: What are your thoughts on John Ramsey and Beth Holloway developing a relationship years ago? I believe they met at a support group for parents who've lost children? it strikes me as odd that Beth would befriend someone who is thought by many to have either killed his daughter or helped cover it up, considering the circumstances of her own daughters disappearance.

    Answer: Yes, we thought it was a bit strange as well.

    Question: How has your involvement in the JonBenet Ramsay case -- high profile yet unsolved -- affected your career?

    Answer: For me, it actually helped propel me to the Chief's position once Tom Koby left. It also gave me some credibility in the community based on a different approach I took with the media. I was more open and forthcoming with the media and I think that helped.

    Question: Is there a case that an intruder was responsible for JBR death?
    Are rich and influential people suspected of crimes still being protected by the BPD?
    Did you ever cry over this case?

    Answer: Some believe there is a case for the intruder theory. Lou Smit and Mary Lacy are probably the two most prominent believers. And yes, there is some evidence that it could be an intruder - the unknown DNA being the most significant.
    Hah! Yes, we are still protecting all the rich and famous. How funny, especially since for most of this time the Boulder Police Department was criticized for focusing too much of the investigation on the Ramsey family. Thanks for throwing some balance into the discussion. Never cried, but dealt with a lot of frustration and second guessing.

    Question: If I could inquire: did you have to deal with many other child homicides during your time in law enforcement? I can imagine that if so, they must be haunting. I have enough trouble visiting a kid's hospital, let alone a murder scene.

    Answer: A couple, not a lot. Fortunately, Boulder does not have a high murder rate.

    Question: What do you think about the Casey Anthony case ?

    Answer: I think she is guilty

    Question: How the heck did she get away with that ? I was shocked. Do you think OJ was guilty too ?

    Answer: Yes, I believe OJ was guilty. That trial was a farce. The DNA evidence alone should have been enough to convict him. This is why trials should not be televised - they become a circus. Judges and lawyers start playing to the cameras.

    Question: I agree. The trial was a joke. So much evidence and he walked. Well, payback for him is a :(:(:(:(:(. Why do so many guilty people walk ? Is it because things have to be proven beyond reasonable doubt ? Look at Zimmerman. Another person that should've been convicted.

    Answer: Yes, it is because we have a high standard of proof in the U.S. We also have constitutional rules the police/government has to live by, which sometimes limits our ability to get the proof we need.
    I disagree on Zimmerman. In that case, I do believe there was reasonable doubt. I would have a hard time sending someone to prison that I was not sure wasn't just protecting himself.

    Question: And the Lindbergh case?

    Answer: I'd have to go back and look at that one again.

    Question: Are there other unsolved murders from your tenure that are as troubling to you personally, but have not received the blizzard of international attention?

    Answer: The Susanna Chase case was one of them. It happened in 1997, one year after JonBenet. However, we were able to solve that one while I was Chief after getting a hit on the DNA.

    Question: Just read about her case. How incredibly sad. As a college student who lives several states away from family, I know my parents get worried about violence around my campus. I'm glad the hardwork of your department was able to get the murderer and put him in jail for good.

    Answer: Thanks. Just be careful and don't walk alone at night if at all possible.

    Question: All the physicians who examined JonBenet's body said she had been sexually violated many times -except the Ramseys doctor! Yet, the sexual motive was rarely mentioned later in the case. Why?

    Answer: It just didn't seem to fit the totality of the circumstances. Remember, she was hit on the head first, hard enough to render her unconscious. Then there was the staging of a kidnapping. Why do that if the motive is purely sexual?

    Question: Thanks for doing this! What are your thoughts on whether Burke may know more than he has told? Whether you think it was Burke's voice on the phone call, or whether it could go deeper and if you have anything to say about how some people speculate that the Grand Jury's findings in 2009 pointed towards exculpation of the parents for the actual crime, but there are lingering questions about the brother? I know it's in poor taste to question a child's involvement in this, but people do, so what are your thoughts? Thank you!

    Answer: I'm not going to speculate on what Burke may or may not know. He was only 9 years old at the time. However, after a short initial interview that day (before we had many facts) Burke was only interviewed one more time and that was by a social services worker. We of course had many other questions we wanted to ask him as the investigation wore on, but were never given an opportunity to interview him again.

    Question: Is it true John Ramsey went down into the basement on his own a short time before he was asked to go down with his friend and search it by a police officer?

    Answer: That is according to what he told police.

    Question: Do you think he was up to something?

    Answer: That's all part of the mystery and intrigue of this case.

    Question: What was your gut instinct when John Mark Karr confessed to the murder?

    Answer: My gut reaction was that Mary Lacy did not know the facts of the case and was making a big mistake. His confession, once they shared it with us, did not match the evidence at the scene. After she asked for our help in proving he did it, we knew in about 18 hours he was not the guy. We were able to confirm he was not even in Colorado at the time by just doing some routine checking and then obtained photos of him in Georgia at the time. The DNA test, which she thought would prove he did it, proved her wrong.

    Question: Could you comment on any personal contact or anecdotes you have of John Mark Karr? Gotta be one of the bigger weirdos you've ever encountered.

    Answer: I did not personally interact with him. Too creepy for me.

    Question: Were there any cases that stand out as especially gratifying or unique?

    Answer: See my previous answer on the theft case. Also, the Susanna Chase case. She was a woman who was hit with a bat while walking home at night, dragged to a car, raped, then left in an alley to die. It was a year after the Ramsey homicide and it frightened the community. It took about 12 years, but through DNA we were able to finally identify the attacker and obtained a first degree homicide and sexual assault conviction. He is now serving life in prison.

    Question: Regarding JonBenet's murder: Is there any information not publicly available that, in your estimation, would be considered "huge" to followers of the case? If so, do you suspect that any of this information could become publicly available in our lifetimes?

    Answer: There is some information that is not yet public, but nothing that would be considered huge or definitive. Personally, I would like to see the grand jury transcripts and evidence released to the public so that all the information could be known. Not sure that will happen in my lifetime.

    Question: I know you stopped taking questions, but just in case you ever swing back by here...this is also spring-boarding off this comment rather than a question on JBR. Do you have an opinion in general on the secrecy/sanctity/whatever of grand jury testimony? I know it became a bit of a debate recently when one of the Ferguson grand jurors (grand jury members?) wanted their records made public. It's something I'd never thought much about, but I can see both sides of the argument.

    Answer: Given the public nature of this case, and the fact that the Ramseys made themselves pubic figures by going public very early in the case, writing books, hiring PR professionals, etc., I'd like to see all the information on this case made public. Let's have full disclosure. But, not my decision to make.

    Question: What were some of the hardest moments of your career?

    Answer: The Ramsey case was the hardest case to deal with. Other moments include the three day riot of spring 1997 and the Halloween riot of I believe 2004. Also a situation where two officers were involved in some sexual misconduct on duty and during the investigation, the female officer committed suicide. In 2013 we had the officer who illegally shot a beloved elk in the city and tried to cover it up, and the floods in September 2013. Overall, disciplining people was hard, but had to be done to maintain our high standards and accountability, as well as public trust. I fired or forced the resignation of many employees during my 16 years as Chief, many times for really stupid decisions. Of course, there were some that weren't so hard to fire.

    Question: Is there something you wish had been done differently from the start of the investigation that perhaps could have yielded a conviction?

    Answer: Not me personally, as I did not get involved until September 1997, about 9 months after the murder. I was brought on to try to get the investigation back on course, which I think we did a pretty good job of once we got some DAs involved who worked with us rather than against us. As for the police department in general, I wish we would have done a much better job of securing and controlling the crime scene on day one. We also should have separated John and Patsy and gotten full statements from them that day. Letting them go was a big mistake, as they soon lawyered up and we did not get to formally interview them again until May of 1997, five months after their daughter was murdered. Had the police found the body early on, as they should have, I believe the initial course of the investigation would have gone differently, but who really knows at this point. We also did a poor job of protecting the crime scene. It was sort of like a perfect storm that day that set things off in the wrong direction. It was and still is the only case of its kind as far as we or the FBI knows of, so its not like anyone had experience with this sort of thing either.

    Question: Were any similar incidents in the country discovered by the police during the course of the investigation? By similar I mean child discovered in the family home & the presence of a ransom note.

    Answer: None. We specifically looked into this and had the FBI check their records for any similar case and ours was and to my knowledge still is the only case in history where a body was found in the same house as a ransom note demanding money. This is the only time this MO (modis operandi) has ever been used.

    Question: Has there ever been a ransom note more than one page long before this case?

    Answer: The FBI told us they'd never seen a 2.5 page ransom note.

    Question: How would a "foreign faction" know Ramsey's bonus amount?

    Answer: Good question.

    Question: A kidnapping for money requires planning, and yet writing a note at the scene seems rather unplanned. Have there been prior kidnapping cases where the note has not been prepared in advance?

    Answer: No note has ever been written at the scene, and then left at the scene with the dead victim at the scene, other than this case.

    Question: Another question, and thanks for answering so many.
    The Ramsey's being so distant towards each other just after their daughter has been kidnapped is very strange. Did you ask the FBI or any other law department is this normal?
    Did they say it only happens when one parent blames the other one or suspects them of involvement?

    Answer: They rarely interacted and this did not seem normal given the circumstances. Lots of speculation as to why.

    Question: Why do you think that this case has attracted so many crazy people who are obsessed with it and have been for decades and who come up with crazy and bizarre theories as they try to pretend that they are helping the police solve the murder with their junior detective work and wacky ideas?
    Also, I would like to have a one on one with you about how the murder was obviously done by Obama and the Illuminati, if you have time for my well thought out 12 hour PowerPoint presentation. I spared no expense.

    Answer: The media attention and the intrigue of a good murder mystery attracts lots of people. Add a small beauty queen and it only intensifies the interest. If only 1% of the population is crazy, in our country alone that would mean there are about 3,600,000 crazy people out there wanting to give us their wacky ideas.
    Now, about that power point presentation......wait for my call.

    Question: I once found a page somewhere on the internet that was a bit crazy, but it did genuinely put across that your resignation was a real loss to the BPD. It seems to me that you were well respected there, so it wouldn't surprise me if you were asked to consult on difficult cases regardless of any prior involvement.

    Answer: Thank you. I lasted 16 years as Chief, which is a long time, so I must have done something right. I occasionally get asked questions, but mostly leaving my police days behind. I have other things I'm interested in now.

    Question: Another question, and thanks for answering so many.
    The Ramsey's being so distant towards each other just after their daughter has been kidnapped is very strange. Did you ask the FBI or any other law department is this normal?
    Did they say it only happens when one parent blames the other one or suspects them of involvement?

    Answer: They rarely interacted and this did not seem normal given the circumstances. Lots of speculation as to why.

    Question: First off thanks for the ama. You mentioned that certain aspects of the crime scene seemed staged. What makes you suggest this and do you have any theories as to why?

    Answer: Lots of reasons really. One, the ransom note was fake - there was no kidnapping and kidnappers do not write such notes. The ties around the hands were too loose to be of any use, thus it was part of the staging. The body was wrapped in a blanket and she had her favorite nightgown with her. The garroting of the neck was unnecessary since the blow to the head came first and she was unconscious and near death. Why the garrote? The tape was put on her mouth after being unconscious or dead and it was a small piece, not really enough to keep someone's mouth shut for long. The broken paintbrush used to simulate sex assault. All these were clues to staging.

    Question: I have a couple of questions - if both can be asked, great...if only one, the first one is of more interest to me.
    Were any similar incidents in the country discovered by the police during the course of the investigation? By similar I mean child discovered in the family home & the presence of a ransom note.
    Was a familial history of sexual abuse on Patsy's side considered/discovered during the course of the investigation by the police? There have been suggestions that her father (JonBenet's grandfather) may have been abusive to his daughters.

    1. Were any similar incidents in the country discovered by the police during the course of the investigation? By similar I mean child discovered in the family home & the presence of a ransom note.
    None. We specifically looked into this and had the FBI check their records for any similar case and ours was and to my knowledge still is the only case in history where a body was found in the same house as a ransom note demanding money. This is the only time this MO (modis operandi) has ever been used.
    2. Was a familial history of sexual abuse on Patsy's side considered/discovered during the course of the investigation by the police? There have been suggestions that her father (JonBenet's grandfather) may have been abusive to his daughters.
    We looked into this and heard the same suggestions. Never found any evidence of this.

    Question: Was the handwritten note tested for DNA/fingerprints? And do the police think the murderer sat in the house and wrote a long winded note on the Ramseys note pad before attempting to kidnap her. obviously didnt do it after if it was a criminal as they would have just got out. Also how might the "kidnapper" have known how much john ramseys bonus was. thanks.

    Answer:Yes, of course it was. The only fingerprint on the note was one belonging to the document examiner at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI). On the notepad from which the note came from, the only fingerprints on the pad belonged to the CBI agent, the sergeant with the police department who took the pad into custody, and Patsy Ramsey. No, we do not believe a someone wrote the note prior to attempting to kidnap JonBenet. Neither the PD or the FBI believe this was ever a kidnapping. It was a murder that someone tried to stage as a kidnapping.

    Question: As the law enforcement/investigation end of this case, did the constant tabloid speculations (both those founded on some fact and the Weekly World News types that just threw anything at the wall to see what would stick) make the investigation more or less difficult? As in, did it help keep civilian attention so you could focus on the actual evidence and facts or do you feel like the media swarm ultimately harmed your investigative measures in the long run?
    Why was the house allowed to be flooded with friends and families of the Ramsey's? Even if officials didn't suspect murder right off the bat, there was still a claim of a missing 6 year old and a ransom letter. I always wondered if the first responders didn't want to step on the toes of an affluent and prominent family within Boulder by actually following the protocol I would expect. (for example: taping off the crime scene so that no evidence could be contaminated or destroyed.)
    Did your officers feel any pressure to give the Ramseys special treatment? If so, what steps were made to make sure this doesn't happen in another kidnapping or murder in the future?
    How was John Ramsey coming out of the basement with JonBenet's body handled by whoever was in the home? Were the friends and family inside the home ever told not to disturb evidence should the worst be discovered? I feel like that should have been common sense on John's part. He doesn't seem like an unintelligent man. Then again, I cannot comprehend the shock that would set in upon finding your child's lifeless body.
    I believe Perfect Murder, Perfect Town mentioned that the autopsy report had found evidence of sexual abuse prior to the night JonBenet was murdered. Aside from the injuries from the murder itself, there were injuries which had actually healed previously, indicating there was sexual abuse much prior to the crime. Is there any truth to this?

    Answer: I will answer a couple of these. Yes, the crime scene was not handled properly and this later affected the investigation. Their position in the community may have had something to do with decisions made that day, but I think the primary reason was a perfect storm type scenario. It was the Christmas holiday and we were short staffed, we faced a situation as I said earlier that no one in the country had ever seen before or since, and there was confusion at the scene as people were arriving before we had enough personnel on the scene. As a result, some evidence was compromised. Yes, after that initial day, we felt pressure the from the DA's office not to push too hard on the Ramseys. This was a constant source of frustration and much could be written about this and the reasons for it. Yes, once I became Chief, we put in place policies that changed how we responded to missing children cases and each Detective Commander while I was Chief was told explicitly that we (the police department) had jurisdiction over any investigation and we were to handle it according to accepted policies and practices, regardless of whether the DA objected or not. Yes, there was evidence that would indicate prior sexual abuse.

    Question: What were your thoughts on the John Mark Karr debacle.

    Answer: It was embarrassing. I'm thankful the police department had nothing to do with that, other than helping prove he was not the killer.

    Question: Do you think that the killer killed again? Or even prior to JonBenet? To me it seemed very "amateur", which is why I have always had my suspicions about the brother or another young person. I have always felt like this was a one-off thing for the killer and that he/she probably didn't even intend to kill JonBenet in the first place. What is your view from a professional standpoint?
    Thanks for doing this!

    Answer: You're welcome. If they have, we are not aware of it nor have found any other case that connects to this one.

    Question: Can you comment on the emotional state of the parents when they were interviewed by your men? Was there anything unusual? Anything unexpected? Did you feel they were fully cooperative or reserved in some way?

    Answer: There were many things that investigators thought were unusual, including Patsy being upset at the first officer being in uniform and wearing a gun. Officers found that very strange given that her daughter was missing and allegedly kidnapped. The officers also noticed the how distant John and Patsy seemed to be toward each other.

    Question: Mr Beckner, firstly let me say on behalf of our community here, we greatly appreciate you taking the time to participate here. My question is: throughout your years in what was no doubt at times an extraordinarily tough job, do you have any advice on being a respected and effective leader? Thank you!

    Answer: Thank you for the appreciation. My best advice has always been to do the right thing, regardless of how hard it may be or how much criticism you may receive for it. What goes along with this of course is honesty and fairness. If you are always honest with people and treat them with fairness and respect, you will be respected in return. People will not always agree with you or always like what your decision may be, but over time, they will see that you are someone who can be trusted and who will make decisions based on values and integrity. If you can do this, then the majority will follow you.

    Question: Do you agree that this is not a DNA case?
    Answer: I certainly wish we could have gone to trial. However, the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt is hard to overcome when you have some foreign DNA that cannot be explained. If we were to find the source of this trace DNA, we would have an explanation, regardless of which way it pointed. When you are talking about small traces of DNA, there can be several explanations and various ways it could have been transferred. Without identifying who it belongs to, we can only theorize the source of the DNA and how it got there. Without this trace DNA, I believe the prosecutors would have moved forward. It is interesting that apparently the grand jury jurors did not find the DNA reason enough not to find probable cause. Personally, I believe if the source is ever found, we will discover that there is an explanation other than belonging to the murderer. There are others, such as ex-DA Mary Lacy who believe the DNA has to be that of the murderer.

    Question: What would be some examples of reasonable explanations for where the DNA could come from?
    Is "trace DNA" a small enough amount that it could have come from a person at the clothing factory or at the retail store where the clothing was purchased?
    Is there any way to know what kind of substance the DNA came from -- like was it from semen, blood, dead skin tissue, or something else?

    Answer: Manufacturing process is one. Interactions with other people is another. Intentional placement is another. Belongs to an intruder is another. Yes, you can often tell where DNA comes from. In this case, it is small enough that it is difficult to tell. CBI thought it was either sweat or saliva.

    Question: What is your opinion of Lou Smit and his involvement and conclusions in this case?

    Answer: Lou was a nice man and very religious. I believe he became emotionally involved with the family and in my opinion this clouded his judgment to the point where he could not accept the possibility that the family was involved. I base this on numerous conversations I had with him. Originally, I wanted to rely on some of Lou's conclusions based on the evidence he was telling me about. More than once, I followed up on the evidence he was using to support his belief and I found it not to be accurate.

    Question: It has been reported the dialogue at the end of the 911 tape was: Male: "We're not speaking to you!" Female: "Help me Jesus. Help me Jesus." Young Male: "Well, what did you find?"
    Do you believe this is valid, that those words were actually spoken?

    Answer: The words are difficult to hear and some claim they cannot hear them. After listening to the tape many times, I can tell you that I can hear what sounds like voices saying those words.

    Question: What did you think about your depiction in the Perfect Murder, Perfect Town movie?

    Answer: I laughed a lot. It's been a long time since I've seen it, but I do remember thinking how silly some of it was. And I am not bald!

    Question: I heard rumors that Patsy Ramsay actually killed JonBenet because she was jealous of the little girls relationship with her dad. I was wondering if an inappropriate relationship between John and JonBenet was investigated? I also wanted to know if it's true that the handwriting on the ransom note matched Patsy Ramsays handwriting?

    Answer: We investigated all aspects of the family relationships. There is no evidence that I know of to support the rumor you heard. Handwriting experts noted some similarities, but not enough to say she wrote the note. There are also similarities to the style of writing to Patsy's style, such as use of exclamation marks, acronyms, and indentation. One expert noted signs of deception in the writing as well.

    Question: Have you ever worked on any serial killer cases? If so, please elaborate.

    Answer: None of the cases I investigated ended up being a serial killer. However, I was involved in the search and capture of a serial killer back when I was a patrol Sergeant. Michael Bell had killed several people in the county over a period of days and there was a large manhunt for him. It was a tense time in the community.

    Question: In 1999, Alex Hunter prohibited by court order the testimony of Lou Smit. Smit had the order overturned. Since they both promoted the intruder theory, why would Hunter not want Smit to testify?

    Answer: I'm guessing is that it is because Lou Smit had taken the case public and was misrepresenting some of the evidence.

    Question: Has BPD ever successfully obtained the medical records for Burke?

    Answer: No.

    Question: Is it true that the amount of ransom wanted, was the same amount of John Ramsey's bonus check that year?

    Answer: As I recall, I believe that is correct

    Question: Are there any theories as to why?

    Answer: Someone knew John well enough, or knew the business he owned well enough to know what he got for a bonus that year.

    Question: I watched a television special a few years back where a retired police investigator laid out his thoughts on the case (and whose name I cannot remember to save my life), and walked through the house to highlight his various points.
    His conclusion was that an intruder was waiting in the house while the family was out, and had time to write several drafts of the ransom note because of this.
    The investigator's conclusion about there being a stun-gun used also seemed pretty conclusive, as it matched the wound pattern present on Jon Benet. He showed how it was possible to get into the house via the window in the basement, and concluded that the perpetrator initially attempted to smuggle the body out in a disused travel bag in the basement before finally fleeing empty handed ... As an armchair true crime aficionado, I thought the investigator's conclusions seemed to be very forthcoming.
    I understand you're under a certain amount of restrictive disclosure regarding your findings, but in your own investigation, did you come upon similar conclusions regarding the stun gun and outside intruder?
    Out of all of the theories I've seen posited, including the family being involved, I thought this one investigator really seemed to lay out the most likely scenario for the crime.

    Answer: Lou Smit makes a good case until you start to delve deeper into the "evidence" he uses to make his case. As some others have mentioned, read Jim Kolar's book.

    Question: I watched a documentary recently as well. It pointed to one of the suspects being Michael Helgoth, quite convincing in my opinion given the evidence they found at his suicide, two things that I remember were a stun gun and boots that were the same make as prints found at the scene.( which they concluded may not have been a suicide, but killed by his accomplice who was afraid he was going to talk) Its worth a look if anyone's interested.

    Answer: We investigated him thoroughly. The boots did not match the print, his handwriting did not match, and his DNA did not match.

    Question: I confess when I first started reading about this case, I bought into the IDI theory. Then years later I stumbled over a blog that looked at the case logically and concluded John, and John alone, committed the murder and subsequent staging. He further goes on to state that Patsy didn't write the note because she called the police. The note says do not call the police, but that's the first thing she did which proves she didn't commit murder and wasn't involved in the staging. I believe he also pointed to the part of the note where it tells John, and John alone, to go to the bank to get the ransom money. He argues that this was the way John was going to get the body out of the house so he could dispose of it. Patsy threw his plans off by panicking and calling the police. Interesting theory, no?
    EDIT: I forgot to mention he also believed it was her father doing the molestation and the murder occurred because she was getting old enough to tell someone what was happening and that perhaps she might even have said something to her father that made him think she was going to tell. If true, he definitely had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit the crime.

    Answer: Yes, interesting what people can come up with. There have been so many theories based on analysis of the note. Look up Occam's Razor theory.

    Question: What do you think of the legalization of cannabis in Colorado?

    Answer: I understand the reasons, as the war on drugs was not working. However, I see the availability increasing dramatically and kids now have more access. I see that as a real problem. I also don't much care to be around people who are high on dope.

    Question: From the layout of the house, how plausible is it that JBR was taken from her bedroom to the basement without awakening anyone? How plausible is that JBR might have been in the basement anyway? What would she be doing there, and how would an intruder know to look there? Do you feel the perpetrator had familiarity with the house? Why?

    Answer: I suppose anything is possible, but you have to look at what is most reasonable or most likely. Yes, someone had to have familiarity with the house, as it was 4 stories (including basement) and was very unique.

    Question: What book would you recommend one read that best explains and theorizes the evidence in the JBR case?

    Answer: Well, I thought Jim Kolar's book, Foreign Faction was very good. Not sure I accept his theory, but he lays out the evidence very well and tells it without the emotion that others have done. The Steve Thomas book has some good information as well, but he tells it too much from his emotional perspective.

    Question: Is there any information or evidence that has yet to be released to the public?

    Answer: There is still some from the grand jury proceedings, but not much. Unfortunately, a lot of what is out there that people believe is not accurate and some of it is just false.

    Question: Who had the strongest evidence against them that almost confirmed they had killed her? And was the brother ever investigated?

    Answer: It is not fair for me to give my opinion on who I think most likely killed her. All family members and well over a hundred others have been investigated.
    I will refer you to the news report of the grand jury recommendation. Yes, everyone was investigated, including many outside the family.

    Question: I have read that you have experience in hostage negotiation and crisis management. Do you have any stories you'd like to share about experiences in either of those areas? I could imagine either would be extraordinarily taxing.

    Answer: Lots of stories, probably too long for a written conversation. I did have one case in which I was the primary negotiator and developed a rapport with the person barricaded in his apartment. To make a long story short, he waited in an attempt to blow himself up until he knew I was not standing outside the door. He told me if I called him he would give himself up. Up course, I had to leave my position to go to a phone (prior to cell phones in everyone's pocket). Once I called him, he tried to blow up the apartment and fired shots through the door. While he was killed, no one else got hurt. But I often think about that and how the rapport we developed gave him a sense that he did not want to put me in harm’s way.

    Question: How did you end up in Vermont, and how are you enjoying all this snow we are having?

    Answer: I'm still in Colorado. I teach online for Norwich University, which is in Vermont.

    Question: It just struck me that when the note says "Any deviations of my instructions..." it is not the normal way to say this. It is more normal to say "Any deviations from my instructions..."
    Have you had an expert go through all these types of idiosyncrasies in the ransom note and try to match it up with phrases people on your suspect list use? Also I read somewhere that there are many phrases in the note that correlate with the way John Ramsey talks (eg. always talking in terms of percentages). Do you think this is significant?
    If you carefully go through the note there are quite a lot of specific features than can be picked out like this.

    Answer: We did. Linguistic analyst Donald Foster did this work for us and concluded Patsy wrote the note based on similarities to her style, words, grammar, etc. He points out these similarities in his analysis. Unfortunately, his credibility was damaged when it was learned he dallied in this case on the internet prior to being hired by us. In his internet dealings, he sent Patsy a letter telling her he knew she did not write the note. Created a big problem. When confronted, he said he was only relying on postings on the net at the time and did not have access to all the writings we had. Still, he changed his original conclusion.

    Question: Why did you turn down the offer for Fitzgerald to put together a team of forensic linguistic experts to look at the ransom note (pro bono)?

    Answer: We originally used Donald Foster and because we later found out he had done some internet work on the case prior to being introduced to us, his credibility could be challenged. Fitzgerald was a friend of Foster's and if I remember correctly, had been trained by Foster. While we are sure Fitzgerald would have been objective and credible, his association with Foster would have just been one more thing for the defense attorneys to hammer away at.

    Question: Do you ever have anything to do with the case now that you are retired? Does anyone ever call you to ask you questions about it or discuss it?

    Answer: You mean like today?

    Question: Without pointing fingers or naming names should you understandably not want to, what is your view on the theory that JonBenet had been sexually abused over a period of time, as opposed to on that night alone?

    Answer: Evidence was found that would indicate she was sexually assaulted some time prior to the day of her death.

    Question: How helpful was the FBI involvement in the investigation? For the sake of this discussion, this includes the input of retired consultants like John Douglas, who was hired by the Ramsey family.

    Answer: Very helpful. They did a lot of work for us, analyzed the case, conducted research into other cases, provided input and feedback on our investigation, and did some forensic work for us. While the media often said we would not accept help from others, we had assistance from multiple agencies and dozens of experts from around the country. John Douglas' involvement was before I became involved in the case. It is my understanding that he did not interview all family members or many of the witnesses in this case.

    Question: Do you believe there was evidence of chronic sexual abuse with regard to Jon Benet?

    Answer: Based on evidence of prior damage to her vagina and hymen, experts told us there was evidence of prior abuse. No way to really know if it was chronic.

    Question: When Patsy wrote the sample note for police, was she writing the words visually from a sheet or they orally dictated?

    Answer: I believe there was some of both, but this was done prior to my involvement.

    Question: If the investigators came to the conclusion that there was a high likelihood that the juvenile brother had killed JonBenet, how would the investigation proceed from that point and what would likely be the final outcome?

    Answer: In Colorado, juveniles under 10 cannot be held criminally liable. There would have been no criminal case against the brother. However, if we assume for this question that he was involved, then we would want to know who helped him cover up the murder? That would be a separate crime and if the parents were involved, they could be charged for not seeking medical attention and for covering up the crime. Same would apply if an intruder helped cover it up.

    Question: Does it seem strange to you that neither of the parent's DNA was found on the body? Would not a grieving parent touch the body on discovery and spend some time holding the body sobbing? Surely one would expect some parental clothing fibers, hair, or DNA on the body, under normal circumstances, even if they weren't the killers? Does the absence suggest staging?

    Answer: There was some evidence that could have come from the parents. These could be indicative of involvement or simply the natural transfer that occurs when people live together. Trace evidence belonging to family members does not tell us much when they all live together.

    Question: Since no one else is asking anything (I don't want to be a question hog) - Now that Burke is an adult, has anyone asked him to submit to an interview?

    Answer: Yes, we had two detectives fly out to meet with him at his residence to see if he would sit down and talk to us. He refused and later his lawyer told us not to contact him again.

    Question: We're you surprised at Burke's unwillingness to submit to an interview a few years ago?

    Answer: No, it was a typical Ramsey response

    Question: Mr. Beckner thank you for doing the AMA. You mentioned on another response that you would have to write a book to answer all of the questions posed. Do you have plans to write such a book? I'm absolutely certain you could easily get it published.

    Answer: If I write a book it will not be specifically about the Ramsey case. Too many on that already. I might write an autobiography covering by entire career, of which the Ramsey case would be a part of.

    Question: Thank you for the amaa sir, I have done a lot of digging in this case and have a few questions.
    Did you find any sign of a struggle at all?
    Did you do any testing for noise travel in the house? Could someone have screamed from the basement and been heard in any bedrooms?
    Was the victims brother interviewed and if so did anything seem out of the ordinary?
    Do you believe the killer was in the house during the previous open house that occurred shortly before the murder?
    Can you clarify the condition of the snow ground cover the morning the first officer arrived? Was it patchy or solid and were any footprints ever noted by the open window leading away?
    Do you believe the ransom note to be written before or after her death?
    Did the original officer to respond report anything strange?
    Was urine found anywhere in the victims room bathroom or on her clothes?
    Was any fingerprints found on the door leading into the room containing the body including the families?
    My young daughter reads mysteries with me and thought perhaps a jilted parent from a previous pageant that lost to Jon Benet could have taken the pad and pen during the open house and written the letter to setup the parents. Out for revenge for a loss, any way this could hold any water? Is it possible the victim knew the killer from a pageant and this was all a movie like setup?

    Did you find any sign of a struggle at all?
    Other than her injuries, no.
    Did you do any testing for noise travel in the house? Could someone have screamed from the basement and been heard in any bedrooms?
    Yes, we did some testing. It would have been difficult to hear a scream, depending of course on how loud it was.
    Was the victims brother interviewed and if so did anything seem out of the ordinary?
    I'm going to pass on this one.
    Do you believe the killer was in the house during the previous open house that occurred shortly before the murder?
    No reason to believe this.
    Can you clarify the condition of the snow ground cover the morning the first officer arrived? Was it patchy or solid and were any footprints ever noted by the open window leading away?
    It was patchy from an older snowfall, but there was frost on the ground from the humidity and temperature that night. No footprints were observed near the window well or on the deck to JonBenet's bedroom.
    Do you believe the ransom note to be written before or after her death?
    Did the original officer to respond report anything strange?
    Yes, quite a few observations seemed strange to him.
    Was urine found anywhere in the victims room bathroom or on her clothes?
    Her clothes and bed appeared to be stained
    Was any fingerprints found on the door leading into the room containing the body including the families?
    Three palm prints were found, two belonging to Patsy Ramsey and one belonging to John Andrew Ramsey.
    My young daughter reads mysteries with me and thought perhaps a jilted parent from a previous pageant that lost to Jon Benet could have taken the pad and pen during the open house and written the letter to setup the parents. Out for revenge for a loss, any way this could hold any water? Is it possible the victim knew the killer from a pageant and this was all a movie like setup?
    Anything is possible, but we found no evidence to support this.

    Question: In your opinion, how convincing is the theory that the duct tape was placed after death? The theory suggests that the lack of a tongue mark on the tape indicates no resistance?

    Answer: The evidence indicates the tape was put on her mouth either after she was knocked unconscious from the blow to the head, or after she had already died.

    Question: If there was one thing about the JonBenet investigation that you could do differently, what would it be and why?

    Answer: Go back and get that first day all over again. We would do it a lot differently and much better.
    Why? Because we screwed it up the first time.

    Question: What motive (if any) did the family have for wanting her dead? I'm not talking about the public theories. I'm talking about the actual investigation.

    Answer: I don't believe they wanted her dead. If you believe someone in the family killed JonBenet, the most likely scenario is that it was accidental in a fit of anger and then they tried to cover it up by making it look like something it wasn't. There are many books out there you can read, including several by the Ramseys that provide plenty of theories, but I have not seen any focused on the family that believe it was a planned situation.

    Question: The bowl of pineapple on the table...I noticed that the spoon in it appears to be sterling silver (specifically, the rose point pattern). Did they use that set of flatware as their daily? Was it in the kitchen drawer? Or was it stored away somewhere else?
    The reason I ask this question, most families, mine included, only use their sterling silver for special occasions and keep their silver hidden in case the house is robbed. It seemed like a strange detail. However, some families do use their silver daily and keep it in an obvious spot. Was this detail ever examined?

    Answer: I really don't know the answer to this.

    Question: If this case could be solved with your gut instinct as evidence, how would it be solved?

    Answer: Through a confession

    Regarding the intruder theory, can you comment on the point of entry, how and intruder might have gained entry and whether it is plausible?

    Answer: Most investigators do not believe there was a legitimate point of entry. It is unknown how an intruder may have gotten in. Lou Smit always believed it was the basement window, but we did not agree with him, as the dust and spider web were undisturbed.

    Question: From the forensics, is there an earliest and latest time you can confirm as the time of death? And is JBR's clothing at the time death consistent with the time of death (eg. nightwear versus daytime wear)

    Answer: We believe it was around 1:00 am.
    The clothing was consistent

    Question: Thank you so much for dropping in and sharing your insight with us. I was wondering what sort of measures your team had in place to prevent investigators from becoming "burnt out" or psychologically distressed when dealing with drawn out and stressful cases such as this one. I know my friends in hospital settings have generous vacation / time off allowances but obviously this would not be possible for people investigating time sensitive crimes. If possible, I would be interested in knowing! Thank you again. I truly appreciate your service to the Boulder community and am enjoying your thoughtful responses to questions.

    Answer: At that time, no. The pressure was so great, that people worked nearly around the clock. Many left the profession because of it.

    Question: Have you ever personally spoken to Fleet White? Just curious.

    Answer: Many, many times

    Question: After having served the public for more than three decades and surely worked on quite a few cases, what are some cases which have stuck with you?
    Do you believe anyone will ever be convicted for the murder of JonBenet Ramsey?
    Do you have any advice for us (in regards to everyday life, how to protect oneself from criminality or otherwise)?

    Answer: Well of course the Ramsey case is the biggest one and will always stick with me. A case I was particularly proud of was when I was a young detective and I was assigned a theft case from a restaurant chain. An employee was regularly stealing money by not entering the tickets and just pocketing the money. This was before high tech computers and security cameras, so it was difficult to prove.
    Management had a suspicion simply because sales were down every day this employee worked. Without knowing much about accounting, I spent many days with someone from upper management learning about the accounting system and making linkages between the receipts and the days this employee worked. We were even able to identify specific menu items that were purchased fewer times on days he worked. This was all done manually and was time consuming. To make a long story short, I was able to get a warrant for the employee for theft over $10,000. The management was so happy with my efforts, they sent me a gift. I was just happy I could make the case.
    Do not believe anyone will ever be convicted in the Ramsey case.
    Best advice I can give is to always keep your doors and windows locked and be aware of your surroundings. Listen to your gut feeling when out in public or dealing with strangers. Getting a large dog is always helpful as well. Not many people with large dogs get burglarized.

    Question: There were always rumors about a local man, and possibly neighbor, who had been stalking the family. The rumors went so far as to suggest there was evidence of this man (wellies footprints) but that the investigation was so botched that such evidence was inadmissible...or that whoever he was had good enough connections in town to make it look botched. Any truth to this? That there was another person of interest that was never identified? Also that before you took over evidence was miss handled?

    Answer: We dealt with hundreds of rumors and followed up on all of them that made any sense. I do not recall ever hearing the rumor you just described. I'm not aware of any evidence we have that would be inadmissible, but of course you never know that for sure until you get to trial. The crime scene was mishandled on the first day of our response and this did hinder the investigation.

    Question: What do you make of the fact that the ransom note demanded the exact same amount as the salary bonus?

    Answer: Whoever it was had to have intimate knowledge of the family.

    Question: Hi Mr Beckner, thank you for the AMAA!
    What is your opinion of the 911 call made by Patsy?

    Answer: Sorry, I'm going to pass on this one.

    Question: Can you talk about some of the reasons the case has remained open so long?

    Answer: Murder cases typically remain open. This does not mean they are necessarily being actively investigated. Many cases sit in files waiting for new information to reactivate the investigation.

    Mark Beckner: This will be my last post, but after reading some of the follow-up posts, I believe there may have been some misinterpretation of some of my comments or "reading between the lines". I want to emphasize that I do not fully know what happened that night or who killed JonBenet, as some have surmised. If anyone did, this would not be a mystery. This is why I do not speculate. I simply answered questions as truthfully as possible and only on things that have already been reported. Dismissing the intruder evidence is a mistake and as I emphasized in an earlier post, the location of the foreign DNA is significant. This could very likely be the person who killed JonBenet. However, we will not be sure until and if they find out who it belongs to. And, just because we can not prove a point of entry, doesn't mean someone didn't find a way to get in. Just as I believe we can not exonerate on one piece of evidence, neither can we ignore evidence. Finally, everyone is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Thanks again.

    ETA: Beckner was also asked if DNA testing was done on the animal hair found on JonBenet. His answer was that it came from a rodent. I don’t have the specific Q and A here, but that’s the gist of it. I’m assuming that the reference is to the hair allegedly found on JonBenet’s hand (according to Smit) and not the hair on the sticky side of the duct tape (which is according to Steve Thomas a beaver hair – although a beaver is a rodent)
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2015
  2. madeleine_ws

    madeleine_ws Member

    Question: If this case could be solved with your gut instinct as evidence, how would it be solved?

    Answer: Through a confession


    finally an answer that tells me everything I wanna know

    if the DNA is so important blah blah blah then why not through a match ? ;)

    if he believes RDI then he obviously doesn't believe PDI,she's dead,there can't be no confession,no?

    he says he doesn't agree with Kolar's theory which is BDI,no?

    guess that leaves us with......
  3. madeleine_ws

    madeleine_ws Member

    great job cynic,thanks for the transcript!
  4. madeleine_ws

    madeleine_ws Member

    just one more thing and I am outta here....

    dear John,
    IF you did it,I hope that on your deathbed you will do the right thing and confess in order to set your son free and clear his name.If he's innocent he didn't deserve all this.Being a suspect in his sister's murder is not the legacy a parent should want for their child.

    Not that I believe he will ever be honest about this,but...........
  5. Elle

    Elle Member

    Thank you for the time taken to
    post this cynic. Much appreciated! I am taking my time to read all of it.

  6. Moab

    Moab Admin Staff Member

    Thank you so much cynic, I had the raw version but no time to clean it up.

    You did yourself proud!
  7. questfortrue

    questfortrue Member

    Thank you!

    Excellent, cynic, thank you.

    One item I wanted to mention was in regards to the comment about Fitzgerald, handwriting expert. Interestingly Fitzgerald references working on the JonBenet Ramsey case on his resume website. So perhaps it was felt subsequently that the work he did was tainted by his association with Foster. IDK.

    The article I link below contains some thought-provoking comments about using handwriting to establish an author's identity, particularly if this is going to be used in a court of law. However, there are some newer tools currently being employed to identify authorship. One of the more intriguing investigative tools has been developed by a woman by the name of Carole Chaski who is a frontrunner in forensic linguistics. (See linked article:
    The work Chaski has done has propelled her to survive the burden of Daubert and Frye and allowed her forensic linguistics testimony to be accepted in courts of law.
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