If there is anybody that might be in a position to know about the JonBenet Ramsey Murder Investigation, it is Mitch Morrisey. The former Denver District Attorney was appointed Special Prosecutor in 1998 to advise the Boulder District Attorney’s Office, specifically Alex Hunter, about the Grand Jury in 1998-99, which we now know returned indictments against Patsy and John Ramsey for Child Abuse Resulting in Death, but only at the Probable Cause level.
Craig Silverman: Right then, but doesn’t that mean the Boulder Grand Jury, after hearing all the evidence that you guys presented, concluded that the Ramseys were both in on it? They could not say which parent did specifically what, but doesn’t their vote indicate that they thought both Ramsey’s were culpable?
Mitch Morrissey: At a probable cause level, Craig. And you know as well as I do, the difference between a probable cause level and proof beyond a reasonable doubt. They’re completely different standards. And in fact, the interview of the Grand Juror, the one that I remember the most, once Charlie broke this story was, he didn’t believe it could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. And I think a big part of that was this mystery DNA.
I spent 18 months and long after that, trying to figure out where this DNA came from. Craig, we ran the profiles of the last, I think, eight men that were autopsied on the same table she was autopsied on to try to see if there was some contamination from the procedures that were taking place at the coroner’s office. Because there was some contamination of the fingernail clippers. It was clear. They were using the same fingernail clippers on everybody and they weren’t cleaning them. So, you know, that was one of the things we looked at.
We looked at, I don’t even know how many people, well over 200 people, to try to see if we could run down and figure out, you know, where this DNA came from. There was a purchase of the same types of panties that were made and they were tested and they came back with DNA in them and they’ve never been worn they were out straight out of the package. So, it can drive you nuts if you’re trying to chase Mystery DNA. It’s very hard. And to a degree, genetic genealogy has a part of that in there where, you know, you are kind of waiting for that match to come through.
We have a very serious rape case now that we’re working with a local department and you know there is just nothing, nothing, nothing, and then boom, two days ago, I get a call, we’ve got a pretty significant match to somebody, probably a second cousin. So, you know, it’s kind of a waiting game and that case is in the waiting game mode.
Craig Silverman: JonBenet?
Mitch Morrissey: Yeah, until you can answer that DNA question, I don’t think you can prosecute anybody. You know, you can’t have.
So, if you have any additional contamination theories about how the DNA UM1 profile got to the crime scene, I say it is time to discuss things more realistically than RDI/BDI.
Mitch Morrissey: But the one thing I was told to do was the DNA. I did a little bit more than that, but I was told to go sort out the DNA. And really, at the time it was in a mess. I mean because they hadn’t tested the bloodstain that ended up having the profile in it. There was one that had a small profile, but there also was enough profile to put into CODIS. And so, it is in CODIS the national DNA database.
We got that profile developed by the Denver Police Crime Lab because that’s who I trusted. And they did a great job. Dr. Greg LaBerge did the work, and he got a profile that was enough markers to put it into CODIS, and it was running in CODIS. It has been running in CODIS for almost 20 years. And it has never matched anybody in that database.
Well, we knew that. Including the part about how MM got the job done. But as is the case whenever forensic professionals talk about DNA evidence, they speak in probabilities and possibilities. And, it comes with caveats, or “things that could go wrong” clauses. But it also has regular statistics and biometrics that adequately weigh those possibilities and make other things ring true, like probabilities.
Mitch Morrissey: The problem with using genetic genealogy on that is it is a mixture. So, when you go to sequence it, you’re going to get both persons types in the sequence. And it’s a very, very small amount of DNA. And for genetic genealogy to do sequencing, you need a lot more DNA than what you’re used to in the criminal system. So, where you could test maybe eight skin cells and get a profile and, you know, solve your murder, or exonerate an innocent person, you can’t do that with sequencing. You’ve got to have a pretty good amount of DNA.
So, it is a Long Shot. At no point in the interview does Morrissey suggest the Ramseys are guilty. On the contrary, he takes a stand against proceeding with the Indictments….
Mitch Morrissey: The Grand Jury wanted to indict them under the statute that we’ve talked about. Alex Hunter, and I advised Alex Hunter, Mike Kane advised him, Bruce Levin, who’s gone on and died had cancer; we sat there. We were brought in to run this Grand Jury. We were brought in to advise them. And, you know, it was in that that area between, proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and probable cause.
And, you know, I was brought up and I know you were under, you know, if you don’t have a reasonable likelihood of conviction, beyond a reasonable doubt, you don’t bring the charges. And you know, that’s where Alex had to make his decision. He was stuck there. And even grand jurors who have been interviewed said, I don’t believe you could have proved it to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. We just understood our role. We understood probable cause, and that’s what we found. But there’s a big difference there, and you’re absolutely right.
There was one of the advisers on it, all these elected DAs that said, well, you know, you’ve got all these arrows pointing one way, and there’s this arrow pointing the other way. I would go ahead and indict them.
And I looked at him and said, you know, you’re calling DNA an Arrow? I mean, this is a Javelin through the Heart of anybody that tries to prosecute this case. At this stage, it ends it. And I, for one, was brought up under Norm Early and Bill Ritter and I don’t bring charges or prosecute cases that I don’t believe there is a reasonable likelihood of conviction. And there’s not one here. And that was the end of my discussion on it. And, you know, I think Alex made the right decision based on the state of the evidence at the time.
Seems to me like Silverman was a bit stunned by Morrissey’s words…
Craig Silverman: This is valuable information about JonBenet and Mitch Morrissey is nobody’s shrinking violet, and I expect the sentiments you just discussed on this broadcast, it is almost verbatim what you told Alex Hunter, am I right?
Mitch Morrissey: Well, like I say, I was there to be open and honest with the people that wanted me giving him advice.
I sincerely hope this clears up any confusion about the Grand Jury Indictments and what really happened with the JonBenet Ramsey Murder Investigation. I appreciate the candor with which Morrissey spoke in this interview and to know the truth when it is heard. Morrissey is the man behind a lot of Cold Case resolutions in Colorado. And he is saying he has been open and honest and truly believes in DNA Science and Technology. Could he have a conflict of interest in the JonBenet Murder Investigation? That would hardly seem fair or just. Sooner or later Law Enforcement should acknowledge they still want to see this crime solved.