The unsolved murder case of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey took a step forward on Tuesday when Colorado police and prosecutors announced they would look into new DNA testing technology.
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The move came after an investigation by the Boulder Daily Camera and KUSA-TV in Denver that apparently uncovered flaws in the interpretation of previous DNA testing.
Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett and Boulder police Chief Greg Testa confirmed Tuesday that they discussed the issue with Colorado Bureau of Investigation administrators, who were about to unveil more sophisticated DNA tests.
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The tests also would tap into an FBI database that includes genetic profiles from more than 15.1 million known offenders and arrestees.
JonBenet was found dead in the basement of the Ramsey home the day after Christmas in 1996. In 2008, prosecutors cleared her parents and brother, saying DNA on the girl’s underwear didn’t match anyone in the family.
Investigators have collected 1,500 pieces of evidence, including the analysis of 200 DNA samples, traveled to 18 states to interview about 1,000 people and have received, reviewed or investigated more than 20,000 tips, letters or emails, Boulder Police Chief Greg Testa said.
The girl’s brother, Burke Ramsey, filed a defamation lawsuit against a forensic pathologist in October after Dr. Werner Spitz told a Detroit-area media outlet that Burke bludgeoned his sister to death.
The lawsuit claimed Spitz was a publicity seeker “with a history of interjecting himself in high profile cases.”
Burke Ramsey, who lives in the Charlevoix area in northern Michigan, sought a jury trial and at least $150 million in damages. His attorneys said they demanded a retraction the day after the interview, but Spitz refused.
“This lawsuit arises from the public discussion about theories involving one of the major unsolved crimes of the 20th Century,” the law firm Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP wrote on the pathologist’s behalf. “Because the First Amendment protects this speech on a matter of immense public concern, Plaintiff Burke Ramsey’s lawsuit should be dismissed.”