Guests: Pam Paugh, Lisa Bloom, Bill Flynn, Marc Klaas, Jeralyn Merritt, Bill Fallon, Pam Bondi, Courtney Hazlett, Dina Sansing
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, breaking news. A young beauty queen, a brutal murder and a lurid murder mystery now a decade old. But tonight, a break in the beauty queen‘s murder mystery. We‘ve got the up-to-the-minute details tonight. Justice delayed but not denied as police made the arrest half a world away. How did they track down the American suspect living in Thailand? We‘ve got the inside story.
Plus: All fingers pointed to the parents. Are their names finally cleared? Some say no, and we‘ll tell you why.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. No passport required, only common sense allowed.
After a decade of false leads and dead ends, an arrest and possible break in the murder mystery of JonBenet Ramsey, the story first broken right here on MSNBC. Authorities in Thailand arrested 42-year-old John Mark Karr, a American school teacher from Georgia who is being held in Bangkok on unrelated sex charges. For families and friends of JonBenet Ramsey, who would be starting her junior year in high school, were she still alive, the news had to be bittersweet. While celebrating a break in the case, many are sad because Patsy Ramsey, the woman most of the world suspected of murdering her own little girl, died of ovarian cancer before the arrest could be made. Today, a family friend visited the grave sites of the mother and daughter and left a note on that headstone that said, “Dearest Patsy, justice has finally come for you and John. Rest in peace.”
But there will be no resting for the authorities as they continue to nail down the case. For the very latest on this unfolding story, here‘s NBC News chief legal correspondent Dan Abrams. Dan, tell us how the day unfolded.
DAN ABRAMS, NBC CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joe, at a little after 3:00 o‘clock, we got a tip that there had been an arrest made in connection with the JonBenet Ramsey case. And you can imagine, after having covered this case for nearly 10 years now, we were pretty stunned when someone says an arrest in the JonBenet Ramsey case. We‘re thinking, Oh, some peripheral player. Maybe it‘s someone who‘s lied to the authorities or something. And no, then we hear this is real. This is in regard to the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. We were able to confirm it about 25 minutes later, at least, that John Ramsey, the father of JonBenet, had been told an arrest had been made, and he was expecting that the DA was going to make an announcement today.
As the day continued, we were able to further confirm the details, many of which you‘ve reported, about who was arrested, where he was arrested, et cetera. But I‘ll tell you, Joe, this is what the Ramseys have been saying for years. They‘ve been saying for years, It‘s a convicted sex offender. We believe that people have not investigated enough convicted sex offenders. And now we‘re told that, according to the authorities, he is a convicted sex offender.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Dan, let‘s take a listen to what the father had to say earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN RAMSEY, FATHER: Based on what happened to us, I don‘t think it‘s proper that we speculate or discuss the case. I think it‘s important that justice be allowed to run its course and do its job. And so I really won‘t speculate or discuss what I know or don‘t know. I think that‘s an important lesson we can learn from this whole episode, that we shouldn‘t—we shouldn‘t subvert a very good justice system.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was the hardest part for you and your wife during this ordeal since your daughter was murdered?
JOHN RAMSEY: Well, the hardest part was losing your child and—by far.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Dan, you‘ve covered this case as long as anybody. Tell me why these parents were suspects from the very beginning and why Patsy Ramsey died a woman who really was a suspect in the minds of most Americans and most everybody that followed this case?
ABRAMS: I think the authorities from early on became convinced that someone inside the house had committed the crime. There was a ransom note that had been left, and people always said, Well, why would an intruder have left a long, somewhat rambling and also false ransom note? Because JonBenet, of course, was already dead. There was a practice note that appeared to have been written in the house. Again, people said, Why would an intruder have spent so much time writing a practice note? Those were the sorts of questions that were asked. And I think that very early on, the Ramseys became very distrustful of the police, and that made the police even more distrustful of the Ramseys.
And from there, things appeared to have snowballed. Now, keep in mind, you know, you have former detectives on this case who have written books, you know, well after the fact, still saying that they believe that the Ramseys committed this crime.
But as time has passed, as a new DA has taken over, many of the old folks in the police department now gone, a new lawyer for the Ramseys, who have gone after the authorities and the DA like no one else had, I think you‘ve seen a shift here, where starting in 2001, 2002, you saw the authorities looking beyond John and Patsy Ramsey. And that has now concluded with the arrest of a 41-year-old school teacher.
SCARBOROUGH: And that‘s why they finally broke the case. Hey, Dan, congratulations on breaking this story earlier today. You‘re way in front of everybody else, and we appreciate you being with us tonight.
ABRAMS: Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: And of course, it does have to be a great day for the Ramsey family. For so long, all fingers pointed especially towards Patsy Ramsey. With us now on the phone is Patsy Ramsey‘s sister, Pam Paugh. Pam, this has to be a great day for your family. Talk about how you‘re feeling tonight.
PAM PAUGH, PATSY RAMSEY‘S SISTER: Well, Joe, I can‘t describe it.
It‘s a long time in coming. Nine-and-a-half years is a long time to wait. But we stood on truth and the fact that Patsy and John absolutely would not be anything but relentless in seeking out JonBenet‘s killer. We‘ve done that. Mary Keenan (ph) has led a brilliant team of detectives, and now look what we have today, the wonderful news that this criminal is off the streets, never to hurt another child again. And we could not be more happy.
SCARBOROUGH: Pam, I remember, I think it was around ‘97, ‘98, I was in Washington, eating in a restaurant called Capitol Grille (ph), and I saw your sister and brother-in-law come in. And all eyes immediately went to them in the front of the restaurant, and everybody started whispering. And I just thought, what a living hell your sister had to be going through, first losing her beautiful daughter and then knowing that everybody that—whether she walked into a restaurant or a church or into a Wal-Mart, whenever she went, everybody thought she killed her daughter.
How did she endure all those years? And did she know before she died that, in fact, there was a suspect, that this case was going to be broken and that her name would be cleared?
PAUGH: Well, let me see if I can answer both of those questions. The first one, how did she live with all that scrutiny? You know, Joe, when you live your life cleanly and you live on faith and obedience to your religion, then you know that truth is in your heart. And she knew wherever she went that she could do so with her head held high. She absolutely never hurt her child, nor did John, Burke (ph), or anyone in the family.
The second part of the question, did she know before she went on to be with her Creator? I know for a fact that John and Patsy were given specific information with regards to what was going on with the investigation, and they did have some kind of level of comfort that an arrest was imminent and that it was to be soon. Not soon enough to be before Patsy leaving this earth as we know it, but let me just say this, that in her final days, she had such a peace about her. I think she knew where she was going. I know when she got there, she saw her two daughters and her mother and she knew wholeheartedly that the four of them together could help this truth come out a little sooner, and I think that‘s what we‘re seeing here today.
SCARBOROUGH: Did she die bitter at all for the accusations? Is her husband bitter today?
PAUGH: No, I don‘t believe so. They‘re not bitter people. Were they persecuted unmercifully by some? Yes. But I think also, what the public doesn‘t realize, Joe, is that there were thousands and thousands of the silent few out there who would send cards and write and call and pray and who have stood with us, with our entire family, for all these nine-and-a-half years. It wasn‘t like we were out there swimming alone. It‘s just that their accolades never made it to the media.
SCARBOROUGH: Never made it to the news media, and unfortunately, it always seems to go that way. Pam, did Patsy know this murder suspect?
PAUGH: You know, I do not know the name. John does not know the name. And nor does anyone in my family or our immediate friends know this name. So I would have to say that she does not—or did not know this name.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Hey, Pam, congratulations. I know that this is a night that has to be very special for you. We appreciate you being with us tonight and sharing the good news with us.
Now let‘s go live to Denver and talk to NBC‘s Leanne Gregg. Leanne, what‘s the latest from there?
LEANNE GREGG, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joe, the Boulder district attorney is apparently going to bring the suspect back to the United States perhaps some time this weekend. Of course, he was picked up on unrelated sex charges. And investigators told KUSA—their sources told KUSA, the local Denver affiliate, that he admitted to at least some facts of the crime that no one else could know except the killer himself.
Of course, JonBenet‘s family, you just heard, feels very vindicated, perhaps, by this arrest. And the case may have taken a new twist when the new district attorney was appointed, Mary Keenan, a couple of years ago. Several reasons why investigators and prosecutors thought the Ramseys were innocent—first of all, there were signs an intruder entered the basement. They found DNA they believe was left by the intruder. And there was no motive for the family to kill their daughter.
People here are in shock. People are stunned. There were a lot of folk who never thought there would be resolution to this case, 10 years in the making. There‘s a lot of surprise in the Denver community.
SCARBOROUGH: No doubt about it. Thank you so much, Leanne. Greatly appreciate that report from Denver.
And coming up next in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, our all-star panel joins us, as investigators crack the JonBenet cold case after almost 10 years. But how did they break it? And is this really the guy that did it? We‘re going to break down exactly how they managed to put the pieces together that led them to Thailand. Plus: JonBenet‘s parents have long been suspected of being involved in their daughter‘s own murder. Does today‘s arrest clear their name forever, or does doubt still linger?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATSY RAMSEY, MOTHER: Let me assure you that I did not kill JonBenet. I did not have anything to do with it. I loved that child with my whole of my heart and soul.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back to our breaking news coverage of the arrest in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case. Now we‘re talking about how they tracked the suspect down with Lisa Bloom from Court TV. We also have Jeralyn Merritt (ph), criminal defense attorney, Pam Bondi (ph), who‘s a Florida prosecutor, and Clint Van Zandt, a former FBI profiler and MSNBC analyst.
Clint, let me start with you. Of course, many in the family very pleased tonight at this arrest.
CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER, MSNBC ANALYST: Yes.
SCARBOROUGH: But several still looking at this evidence say it just looks like an inside job. Can you explain how investigators from the very beginning looked at the parents or somebody inside the family?
VAN ZANDT: Well, Joe, to start out with, whether your name is John Ramsey or John Walsh, as we know, law enforcement always has to look at the family to begin with, unless there is, you know, irrefutable evidence otherwise. I read one article on this case that suggested a statistic—I don‘t know where they came up with it, but it said 14 to 1 that the killer of a child comes from a common household. Well, law enforcement has to get by the prejudices that you and I have, as parents, that say, Hey, I would never hurt my child. Don‘t look at me. Law enforcement has to start at ground zero, which is the parents, and then move on from there.
But in this particular case, they start at ground zero with the parents. They look at this demand note, Joe, the longest demand note I think the FBI has ever seen, that has—the ransom demand is almost to the dollar of what John Ramsey‘s bonus was that year. Who would know that? Then how did an unknown offender get in the house, find JonBenet‘s bedroom, be able to commit this horrific crime, carry her body down to the basement, what they‘re now calling the wine cellar, write this demand note after two or three attempts at doing it, use implements in the house to commit the crime and then stealthily get away without any evidence whatsoever?
Well, you know, I think law enforcement was totally justified in looking at the Ramseys, just like they‘d have to look at me or you or anybody else if something terrible happened to our child.
But Joe, you made the point, and it‘s so valid right now, that the only thing worse than losing a child is being accused of having anything to do with the death of your child. And here we are for almost a decade that the Ramseys had to live with this—this cloud of suspicion that has hung over them...
SCARBOROUGH: If you were the investigator on this case right now, though, would you lift that cloud of suspicion from the Ramseys? Because even tonight, 10 years later, hearing you talk about it, sounds like there‘s some—some facts that still don‘t add up in your mind.
VAN ZANDT: Well, I‘ve got to make sure who this guy is, Joe, and that this is not someone who‘s looking for 15 minutes of fame. We‘ve had a lot of people over the years confess to crimes, and they‘ve had nothing to do with it whatsoever. So just as I think we were wrong—the public, the media, otherwise—to be quick to indict the Ramseys in the court of public opinion, I think we have to afford this person the same level of scrutiny to make sure we‘ve got our right guy.
SCARBOROUGH: Lisa Bloom, talk about what role the Internet and DNA evidence played in this case.
LISA BLOOM, COURT TV: Well, we don‘t know all the facts yet, but my suspicion are those are probably the two keys to getting this guy, if, indeed, this is the killer of JonBenet Ramsey. Unknown DNA from a male was found under the fingernails of JonBenet Ramsey, probably when she was trying to fight for her life. Unknown DNA from an unknown male was also found in her underwear. And that wasn‘t found until 2003, Joe, seven years after her murder.
Now, law enforcement routinely checks that kind of DNA against new samples that are coming in because new criminals are giving DNA samples all of the time. And so there was always the hope that perhaps this person would be found that way, and that may have been what did it.
The other thing is on line communications, and we are hearing some information that this guy is a pedophile who has done on line communications, talking about his sexual predilections. And that‘s the way that a lot of pedophiles are getting caught, thank God, these days.
I want to point out he was in Bangkok, a place known for sexual
activity between adults and children. He‘s also a 2nd grade teacher, may -
showing an unnatural interest in children. JonBenet Ramsey is 6 years old, close in age. So we put all this together, this may be—may be—I emphasize may—but it may be a sexual predator who had access to the home as hundreds of people did, Joe, because this is a family known for entertaining, known for leaving their doors open, having contractors and construction workers coming in all the time. So he could have had easy access to the home, could have followed the patterns and the habits of this family.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m going ask my all-star panel to stay with me. And a
question that I want answered is, Why did it take authorities seven years -
seven years! -- to find that DNA evidence on JonBenet Ramsey that could have broken this case a long time ago? We‘ll get answers to that and much more when we come back.
But still to come tonight: The 10-year hunt for JonBenet‘s killer may finally be over, but when will Americans get their first look at the man allegedly behind that brutal murder? Plus: John and Patsy Ramsey—they‘ve lived under an umbrella of suspicion for a decade now. What did today‘s arrest finally do to get them off the hook? Tonight, some are saying, Not so fast.
SCARBOROUGH: The big news tonight, an arrest in the decade-old murder of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey. Now, police in Thailand arrested an American today in his 40s. His name, John Mark Karr. He‘s a former school teacher who once lived near the Ramseys when they lived in Conyers, Georgia. But now the big question is, What happens next?
According to our NBC affiliate in Denver, Karr has already confessed to certain parts of the crime that are still unknown to the public. Right now, he‘s in the process of being extradited back to the United States and expected to arrive here within the next two days. Karr will reportedly be accompanied by an investigator from the Boulder DA‘s office. That office says they‘ll hold a press conference on the arrest tomorrow afternoon.
Of course, that‘s the same DA‘s office that really screwed up this case in the beginning, and many people, especially in the Benet family—
JonBenet Ramsey family, believe that that‘s the reason why this investigation has gone on for so long and has been so painful for the family.
Now, when we come back, we‘ve got a packed show in the back half, talking much more about this breaking news. And we‘re going to have more live up-to-date breaking news coverage when we return. Stay with us.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back. Does today‘s arrest in Thailand close the book on the JonBenet case? We‘re going to be asking our all-star panel that question in a minute. But first, NBC‘s Mike Taibbi looks at the investigation that captured a nation—Mike?
MIKE TAIBBI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Joe, finally a break in a case that had gone as cold as the Colorado winter, when a 6-year-old girl was brutally killed 10 long years ago, an arrest of the suspect half a world away.
TAIBBI (voice-over): It was a story that, as they say, had all the elements. A pretty, little girl with a melodic name, JonBenet, a beauty pageant veteran already at age 6, found strangled, possibly sexually abused and beaten to death in her own Boulder, Colorado, home on the day after Christmas 10 years ago. Now, an arrest in Bangkok, Thailand, of an American named John Mark Karr.
ABRAMS: My understanding is that this is a suspect in connection with the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, not a witness, not a peripheral player, but a suspect.
TAIBBI: The suspect was described as a 41-year-old second-grade teacher arrested by the Royal Thai Police at the request of the U.S. Justice Department, the warrant issued by the Boulder police.
It was the Ramseys themselves, John and Patsy, who were for long stretches described as the key suspects, persons under the umbrella of suspicion, investigators said. In books and in their rare interviews, both denied it.
JOHN RAMSEY: Let me address very directly: I did not kill my daughter, JonBenet.
PATSY RAMSEY: Let me assure you that I did not kill JonBenet. I did not have anything to do with it. I loved that child with my whole of my heart and soul.
TAIBBI: And though Patsy Ramsey died of ovarian cancer this past June, she apparently had a clue about what was coming.
ABRAMS: I‘m told that Patsy Ramsey, who has since died, knew about this suspect and was waiting for the authorities to move forward on this suspect before she died.
TAIBBI: The case was a sensation, for years really. As one investigator put it, “This was the biggest child murder case since the death of the Lindbergh baby.” Late Thursday afternoon, a telephone interview by our affiliate, KUSA, with John Ramsey.
J. RAMSEY: I was notified this morning that an arrest had been made. And I‘m just absolutely impressed with the effort that went into accomplishing this by the Boulder D.A.‘s office and the other agencies that were involved.
TAIBBI: An explosive murder case that will now rule the headlines again, perhaps for the beginning of the end of the story.
TAIBBI: The suspect, John Mark Karr, is under the control of U.S. Justice Department officials in Bangkok at the moment. It‘s expected he‘ll be returned to the U.S. as soon as possible and could be back in Colorado as early as this coming weekend—Joe?
SCARBOROUGH: Thanks so much, Mike.
So after 10 years of suspicions, are the Ramseys vindicated or does today‘s arrest just bring up more questions? With me now to talk about it, forensic document examiner Bill Flynn, who examined the ransom note for JonBenet Ramsey.
Marc Klaas, his daughter, Polly Klaas, was kidnapped and murdered by a pedophile.
And, of course, our all-star panel, which we‘ll be getting back to in a second.
But, Bill Flynn, let me start with you. You examined this ransom note. Respond to today‘s arrest?
BILL FLYNN, FORENSIC DOCUMENT EXAMINER: Well, I and many, actually, forensic document examiners that were involved in the criminal case had an opportunity to compare the writing of John and Patsy Ramsey to the note. And to the best of my knowledge, in spite of what must have been enormous pressure, especially on the CBI examiners, none of us actually identified Patsy Ramsey as having written the note.
So it wasn‘t too much of a surprise. The real question now is and the final piece of the puzzle will be if this man, Karr, actually did commit the murder, did he write the note? So that‘s a second possibility, as well.
SCARBOROUGH: But, of course, it didn‘t really—as Clint was saying earlier, it didn‘t make sense that the guy would kill this little girl and then hang around in the basement and write a long ransom note.
FLYNN: It didn‘t. All of the physical evidence, I‘m sure, and the investigation would have indicated someone inside the house. It was a long, rambling note. It was written while inside the house, not written outside and brought into the house.
So certainly all of the initial evidence would have indicated that someone in the house, Patsy or John Ramsey, had written the note. Forensically, though, no one that looked at the note on the criminal side was able to identify Patsy Ramsey as having written it.
SCARBOROUGH: Marc Klaas, as Clint told us earlier, if you‘re a parent and you go through the tragedy of your daughter being killer or your son being killed, like you had to go through with your daughter, police immediately look at the parent as a suspect. You were a suspect. It had to be painful. Do you think, though, that this arrest vindicates completely the parents?
MARC KLAAS, FOUNDER OF BEYOND MISSING: No, no, not at all, for a variety of reasons. First of all, this might simply be a case of a very bad individual who was facing maybe the rest of his life in a Bangkok prison coming up with a reason to get back to the United States. If I were in his shoes, I would cop to the Lindbergh kidnapping if I thought it would get me back to the United States, so it could be as simple as that.
But also, Joe, remember, on this ransom note, she may not have been able to be implicated, but she was never eliminated, either, at least not by the authorities.
SCARBOROUGH: Jeralyn Merritt, you think the parents were treated very badly by the investigators early on. Why?
JERALYN MERRITT, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think that the Ramseys were vilified more than anyone else in the last 10 years. The police in this case jumped on them right from the beginning. You had the mayor of Boulder coming out within two days of JonBenet‘s death telling the people of Boulder on television they didn‘t need to worry about a killer being loose in their community.
These police, they‘ve picked on the Ramseys. And then, when they got lawyers, the police used that as a reason as if to suggest that made them guilty. And it just spiraled from there.
The people said the Ramseys didn‘t cooperate. The Ramseys did cooperate. They gave an unbelievable amount of consent for the police to search their home, for handwriting exemplars, and yet they were vilified from the very beginning, with people who didn‘t know anything about the case, but all speculated that it must be the Ramseys, because who else could it have been?
SCARBOROUGH: But, Bill Fallon, you believe that the Ramseys acted in such a bizarre way that investigators had no other choice but to focus almost solely on them. Explain.
BILL FALLON, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, Joe, for me, we talk about a rush to judgment. No, a rush to suspicion, yes. You get an umbrella of suspicion. The middle of the umbrella involves the family, the people surrounding, whether it‘s the Ramseys, whether it‘s their son, whether it‘s anybody who had access to that house. What you usually get in reviewing, Jeralyn, as you know, thousands of these cases, you do look to the family, not just to say, “Did they do it?” but let‘s see if we can clear them so we can move on.
This is a family that didn‘t, as I understand it from 10 years ago, as I remember, didn‘t want to take lie detector tests, didn‘t want to be interviewed except separately—together. We never interview parents together.
Now, the point is—that doesn‘t mean they did it, but it does mean that there—in my mind, there are secrets in that house that we may never know. And if I were an investigator or I were the prosecutor, I would say:
This doesn‘t ring true to a poor child‘s family, a child who has been potentially molested, who has been murdered. What is up here?
Then we had no clues of anyone else. Remember, somebody only came forward now, as was just said that I think, “Let me get out of this jail in Thailand.” Now, the truth is, whether this guy did it or not, what we know is we would have never had access to him, except that he seems to have come forward in some way. But, again, does it not...
SCARBOROUGH: Pam Bondi...
FALLON: ... mean the Ramseys had anything to do with it, but they did not act, I think, in the best interests of the investigation, the best interests of finding out who the child murdered.
SCARBOROUGH: I think most people looking—so many people at this case from the very beginning just said they acted in a strange and inappropriate way. I have no idea, though, how I would respond if I were going through the same pressures of them.
But, Pam Bondi, let‘s talk about cracking this cold case. Let‘s say this guy is (INAUDIBLE) I‘ve got to say, Marc Klaas paints a pretty darn good excuse for this guy to cop a plea to this case, to get out of Thailand and come back here to the United States. But let‘s say this is the guy. How do you crack a cold case—and this is the coldest of cold cases, over 10 years old—and track down somebody that‘s on the other side of the world?
PAM BONDI, PROSECUTOR: You know, Joe, when you say a “cold case,” sometimes that‘s deceiving. There are cold cases out there, but let me tell you, they are being worked on every day. In fact, here we have full-time detectives assigned to cold cases, to old cases.
SCARBOROUGH: So just so...
BONDI: They re-submit DNA constantly.
SCARBOROUGH: ... Pam, just because the media is not looking at these cases anymore, you guys are still looking at it.
BONDI: Right, constantly.
SCARBOROUGH: But let‘s talk about—Lisa brought up earlier that DNA wasn‘t found on her undergarments for seven years.
SCARBOROUGH: How do you mess that up so badly?
BONDI: Well, Joe, we have made tremendous advancements in the last decade in DNA. We now have something called mitochondria DNA. Even the smallest amount of DNA can be analyzed.
DNA in old cases, whether they‘re high-profile or not, are constantly being re-submitted for analysis, whether or not now they have enough with the new advancements to find DNA or they may get a hit on a suspect who has since been incarcerated and they may get a match. But, believe it or not, it‘s frequent, and it happens, and it‘s great. And, you know, it‘s just great that they haven‘t let this case die in any way and, especially in this case, I think they‘ve been working on it around the clock for things we didn‘t know about.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me ask Lisa Bloom, going back to this seven-year delay, do you think it‘s possible, Lisa Bloom—because I know Jeralyn believes this—that because the Boulder D.A. focused so much on the parents...
MERRITT: No, the Boulder police.
BLOOM: The police.
MERRITT: Not the D.A.
SCARBOROUGH: The Boulder police, I‘m sorry, the Boulder police focused so much on the family and botched this investigation from the very beginning, from the first hours of this investigation, is it possible that they missed some evidence that actually could have let this guy go free for over a decade?
BLOOM: It‘s not possible. It‘s crystal clear, Joe. They walked around through the crime scene. They failed to secure it. They fingered these parents from the very beginning, as they should, but to the exclusion of all others, which is what the big error was in this case.
Usually Jeralyn and I disagree; here I‘m in complete agreement. There‘s no question, if you look back at the facts of this case, as we‘ve done on Court TV, and exhaustive reviews of these 10 years, there‘s no question that the Boulder police misstepped.
The good news is that a new D.A. did come in, took a closer look at it, and hopefully this is the guy. But I think it‘s a shame that people even today are still attacking the Ramseys. I mean, I think they‘re going to go down in American history with Wen Ho Lee, with Richard Jewell, as people who were falsely accused.
They lived through a hell over the last 10 years, and poor Patsy passed away without ever seeing justice, having this cloud of suspicion over them. They never had any history of abusing their children. They had no motivation to kill JonBenet Ramsey. She was killed with a sophisticated, sadistic garrote around her neck and around her wrists.
It all looked like a pedophile. This was a pretty little girl who was out in pageants with wealthy parents. Of course, she‘s a target for a kidnapper or a pedophile. It wouldn‘t make any sense if they would have written that ransom note. I just think, from the beginning, the police botched it, and it‘s time, frankly, for an apology to the Ramseys.
SCARBOROUGH: And the family has been vilified, like you said, for over a decade. Lisa, thank you so much for being with us. And I want to ask the rest of our panel, if you will, please stay with us. More on the Ramsey investigation, the arrest coming up.
But later, we‘re going to change pace and lighten things up a little bit. Find out what American legend reportedly thought about Tom Cruise, how he was creepy, so creepy that Joltin‘ Joe almost called the cops.
SCARBOROUGH: Our all-star panel still with us. Let‘s go back to Clint Van Zandt.
Clint, if in fact this family didn‘t know the suspect as the sister suggested, that contradicts news reports, but what is his connection to this case?
VAN ZANDT: Well, Joe, that really changes the equation on this. If no one in the family knew this guy whatsoever—we know he would have been 32 at the time this crime took place, that he is alleged to be a second-grade school teacher and subsequent, you‘d like to believe, a known pedophile. How did this guy become so fixated on JonBenet Ramsey that he would have traveled potentially from Georgia to Boulder, Colorado, not just to this town and not just to this house, but for this particular child, and still know enough about the Ramsey family to know how much John bonus was and to be comfortable enough to write that demand note inside the house?
I mean, there are questions that obviously are going to be answered, but right now, Joe, it still doesn‘t make sense. Motive and opportunity, law enforcement still has to put that together. And we need something more than, “I have confession.” We need linking physical evidence to tie this guy in.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, Clint. So much of this still doesn‘t add up.
And Marc Klaas, is that why you‘re still so suspicious of the Ramseys?
KLAAS: Well, Joe, I‘m suspicious for two reasons. Number one, their conduct in the immediate aftermath of the murder of the child. And it‘s mentioned: They were not cooperative with law enforcement. They did not take independent interviews with law enforcement. They did not take polygraph exams. They put lawyers between themselves and law enforcement almost immediately. And we all know...
SCARBOROUGH: And you didn‘t do any of that in your case?
KLAAS: No, sir, because it was—I understood that I was the parent of a murdered child and immediately the suspicion would fall on me. And it was explained to me that I had to eliminate myself from suspicion and that the best way to do this—and I truly believe this—was to cooperate with law enforcement, and to cooperate with the media, and be as transparent as humanly possible so that I would no longer be considered as a suspect and they could move on. That‘s the first reason. They never did any of those things.
The other reason are all of these pieces of evidence, the three-page note, the information about the $118,000, having a ransom note and finding the little girl downstairs, having Patsy‘s sweater fibers on the inside of the duct tape that was covering her mouth, having her sweater fibers entwined in the garrote that was around the little girl‘s neck, having the little girl wrapped in her favorite blanket.
This sounds like staging. And as Clint said, and as others have said, until you can show otherwise, I think we have to look very, very askance at this gentleman and his confession.
SCARBOROUGH: Bill Fallon, it sounds like there‘s still clouds of suspicion over the Ramseys. Why?
FALLON: Joe, because, just as Mark just said, from the beginning they didn‘t act the way everybody thinks they should act when their child‘s death is imminent or the child has died. We want transparency.
But I will say, if this guy did do it, it might give us a light, shine a light on just what a fixated pedophile—we‘ve talked about them for decades—just how fixated, almost mentally ill they can become. Every moment becomes fixated on one child. Usually we see it on several children, their movements.
I mean, if he actually went all those states to go to this child, maybe he was following this career that Patsy Ramsey had set up. Maybe somebody was sending him, “This is the little child in the limelight” thing. We don‘t really know that.
And, again, I‘m suspicious that we can ever trust everything any pedophile says, because they always put it in their best light. Sadly, we‘re talking 10 years later about what could parents have done differently, so maybe the light would have cleared, that maybe we could have focused in on them.
But I don‘t say this: I am not willing to say that, even if they had cooperated, that the light would have shown that this guy several states away was, in fact, the guy that murdered her at the time. So maybe years have actually helped the case, not hurt it.
SCARBOROUGH: And as Marc proved in his own case, his own tragic case, it‘s transparency, when you‘re in this sort of situation, that makes all the difference in the world.
FALLON: Put the child first.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, I want to thank all of our panelists. Yes, put the child first. I want to thank all of our panelists.
Up next, we‘re going to try to lighten things up. Paris Hilton actually is in the record books. Really? Wait until you see why.
Pack your bags for a trip to Hollyweird, as we also talk to you why and tell you why Joe DiMaggio was scared of Tom Cruise.
SCARBOROUGH: Roll out the red carpet. It‘s time to take a trip to Hollyweird.
First up, the star that just keeps falling. First Star Jones booted from “The View,” now the other shoe drops. Payless Shoes has fired Jones as its spokeswoman. With us now to talk about celebrities and more proof that they‘re not like you and me, we‘ve got “OK‘s” senior reporter, Courtney Hazlett, and we also have West Coast deputy editor of “US Weekly,” Dina Sansing.
Let‘s start with you, Courtney. First, “The View,” and then, of course, Payless Shoes. It looks like being a diva doesn‘t pay well these days.
COURTNEY HAZLETT, “OK” MAGAZINE: Well, you know, it‘s kind of funny. Star Jones has definitely proven that she does like to pay less for things, as evidenced by her behavior during her wedding, which she has, in her defense, since apologized for. But Payless has decided to drop her as a spokesperson. That said, her contract was up, as well. But it‘s definitely showing that it seems like Star‘s star is falling somewhat, that she‘s not—she doesn‘t have the equity that she once did. And maybe a little bit of time out of the limelight is going to do her a lot more good in the long run.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Dina, it looks like, in the end, Barbara Walters may get the last laugh, that as long as she‘s with “The View,” she‘s a hot commodity. They take her off of there, and she can‘t even hold a contractual deal with Payless Shoes, right?
DINA SANSING, “US WEEKLY”: Well, I think one of the problems here is there is lots of controversy around Star. And the last thing that you want with a spokesperson is to have controversy. You want someone who‘s loved by all and who will help sell shoes and not have a lot of baggage. And that‘s exactly what Star has right now.
SCARBOROUGH: And talking about a lot of baggage, Paris Hilton is now a world record holder. I know you all are very excited about it. But she‘s probably not going to be popping any champagne. The 2007 Guinness Book of World Records names Paris Hilton the most overrated person in the world.
Dina, that‘s pretty impressive, even for Paris Hilton, in the Guinness world book of records. They said that they put her up there, though, because she just kept up coming up as the most irritating, obnoxious celebrity. Why is it though that everybody likes talking about her and likes reading about her?
SANSING: Well, that‘s the thing about Paris. You know, she became famous for being famous. Initially there was really no other reason for this fame that she had. But at the same time, she really turned it into something.
Here‘s a girl who essentially did nothing, got a lot of press for it. And then she‘s now a very successful perfume maker. Her line is very popular. She‘s releasing a record that‘s said to be doing pretty well. People like the single. You know, people like to talk about Paris. And you can say what you want to say about her, but she‘s made something from nothing, essentially.
SCARBOROUGH: And she certainly has.
And, Courtney, I remember the “New York Times” had a front page article in their business section, called it “Paris Inc.” I mean, it started with a sex tape. This woman is actually making a lot of money doing nothing.
HAZLETT: You know, you‘ve got to hand it to her. A lot of people who start their careers with a sex tape, they don‘t really go as far, do they?
SCARBOROUGH: No, it hasn‘t really helped me.
HAZLETT: But as we speak, literally, Paris Hilton is having a huge party here in New York City, and it‘s to celebrate her single and her album dropping. And so, you know what, Paris is probably going to be having the last laugh when this is all said and done.
She‘s always said, you know what, say what you will say about me, but I work really hard. And, you know what, now it‘s actually starting to look like she‘s working hard in spite of her Guinness title.
SCARBOROUGH: Works hard, makes a lot of money.
SCARBOROUGH: And long before he jumped on Oprah‘s sofa and gave the rest of us the creeps, Tom Cruise—I love this story—reportedly followed around baseball great Joe DiMaggio so much that Joltin‘ Joe thought about calling the cops. And, Dina, he said that this guy gave him the creeps. What is it about Tom Cruise that gives so many Americans the creeps these days?
SANSING: Yes, Joe, you know, join the club there. You know, he does everything over the top. And, you know, this was probably not expected. You know, I would be creeped out if someone was hanging outside my doorstep all the time.
You know, when he wants something, he fights really hard to get it, and I think that‘s what happened. He was just really trying to get the story of Joe. He wanted to make the movie, and he decided to do everything he could. But in the process, he really probably hurt his chances and just creeped him out.
SCARBOROUGH: No doubt about it. And, Courtney, you know, we‘d call guys like this back in high school a spaz. He‘s just over the top, isn‘t he?
HAZLETT: You know what? Tom Cruise, he‘s a lot to handle all at once. And, you know, this story coming out about Joe DiMaggio, it is a little bit believable, because J.J. Abrams was recently saying, when Tom was courting him to direct “Mission Impossible III,” “You know what? The guy used to show up at my house like at midnight on his motorcycle by himself saying, ‘J.J., please, come on, you‘ve got to do this movie for me.‘ And how could I say no?” J.J. was saying. So you know...
SANSING: But he got what he wanted, you know?
SANSING: Sometimes that works.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, we‘re going to have to leave it there. He may be a spaz, but he makes $100 million.
That‘s all the time we have for tonight. Stay tuned. More MSNBC straight ahead.
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