Documents released Friday show that a grand jury voted to indict on charges of child abuse resulting in death

Credit: Linda McConnell/Rocky Mountain News/Polaris

According to court documents released Friday in Boulder, Colo., a grand jury voted in 1999 to indict the parents of murdered 6-year-old beauty pageant winner JonBenét Ramsey on charges of child abuse resulting in death and of being accessories to a crime.

The indictment alleges that between Christmas Day and Dec. 26, 1996, John and Patsy Ramsey “unlawfully, knowingly, recklessly and feloniously permit a child to be unreasonably placed in a situation which posed a threat of injury to the child’s life or health,” which resulted in her death.

But the release of the documents is somewhat of a red herring. Seventeen years after the nation was shocked by news that the precocious pageant queen had been beaten, strangled and sexually assaulted, JonBenét’s case is still considered unsolved.

Although the indictment followed roughly a year of secret testimony, the Boulder prosecutor at the time refused to go along with the grand jury’s recommendations, saying the evidence didn’t seem compelling enough to win over a jury. Because the documents were never enforced, a judge placed them under seal.

In 2008, then-District Attorney Mary Lacy wrote a letter to John Ramsey, saying that new DNA evidence had cleared him, his wife and his son, Burke. She formally apologized for the cloud of suspicion the Ramseys lived under for years.

John remarried five years after his wife Patsy died of ovarian cancer.

The documents were released on Friday in response to a lawsuit by the Boulder Daily Camera and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, who insisted that the unprosecuted indictment should be a public record.

John Ramsey opposed the release, saying it was defamatory. The judge decided to release only those four pages of the 18-page indictment that had been signed by the jury foreman.

The other 14 pages might contain additional charges, because the two charges that were revealed were numbered counts 4 and 7.