This Day in the Law
October 13

Boulder Grand Jury is Dismissed in Beauty Queen Murder Case

On October 13, 1999, the grand jury investigating a high profile murder case was dismissed. Just three years prior, on the day after Christmas, the body of JonBenet Ramsey, a six-year-old child beauty queen, was found within the confines of her own home in Boulder, Colorado. Patsy Ramsey, the mother to the slain child, found a ransom note that very morning, and the police were called to the home. Several hours later, JonBenet’s body was found in the basement of the family’s home.

After a thorough investigation by the coroner, it was determined that the teeny-tiny beauty queen had died of asphyxia strangulation. After an autopsy had been completed, it was further determined that she had been bound and struck in the head. Because of the odd circumstances surrounding the case, the parents of JonBenet Ramsey became the primary suspects in the murder case. The couple adamantly denied any wrongdoing, and insisted that an intruder had committed the horrendous crime.

As the investigation continued by the police in Boulder, Colorado, the story hit national media outlets, which led to criticism of the police, the prosecutors, and the parents. Due to the oddities of the case, a grand jury was convened, and their main purpose was to investigate the murder of JonBenet. A grand jury is a group of individuals who are charged with the responsibility of determining whether or not there is probable cause to believe that an individual has committed a crime. If such probable cause exists, that individual will be put on trial for that specific crime. The prosecutor presents evidence to the grand jury in order for them to carry out their duties and make that determination. On October 13, 1999, just one year after the grand jury had been assembled, Alex Hunter, the Boulder County District Attorney, announced to the public that the grand jury had been dismissed, and that a lack of evidence resulted in no murder indictments.

At the present time, the murder of JonBenet Ramsey has not been solved, and this terribly tragedy remains a gruesome mystery in the United States legal system.