Sandra Sobieraj Westfall
November 11, 2013 12:00 PM

It’s the blockbuster case unsolved – and still riveting: Who killed beauty-pageant-darling JonBenét Ramsey at Christmas in 1996, leaving her strangled and sexually assaulted body in the basement of her own Boulder, Colo., home? Court papers unsealed on Oct. 25 show that grand jurors who had spent more than a year examining thousands of pages of testimony and evidence back in 1998 and 1999 voted to indict the girl’s parents, Patsy and John Ramsey, who were suspects at the time but largely refused to cooperate with police and were never prosecuted. A primer on the latest:

What does the indictment reveal?

Grand jurors decided there was probable cause to charge John and Patsy with child abuse leading to the girl’s death and of being accessories to murder by helping to cover for the killer.

Does this mean the parents are guilty?

Hardly. Then-District Attorney Alex Hunter declined to prosecute on the basis of insufficient evidence to convict. The D.A. in 2008, Mary Lacy, went one controversial step further by exonerating the Ramseys and son Burke, citing DNA evidence inconsistent with any family member. Lacy was “overreaching,” says Jim Kolar, her lead investigator on the case in 2006. “The absence of other family members’ DNA in JonBenét’s underwear doesn’t necessarily rule them out as being involved or in covering up the murder.”

What became of the Ramseys?

Patsy died of ovarian cancer in 2006. John later remarried and travels between homes in Las Vegas and Michigan. Son Burke is now 26.

What’s next?

The case remains open but inactive. The statute of limitations on the indictment is long past. But Kolar contends there’s one more lead Boulder officials could pursue: “Get Burke in front of a grand jury. It could be one last shot at determining what happened in the home that night.”

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