COLORADO SPRINGS -- Homicide detective Lou Smit says evidence he examined during his 19 months on the JonBenet Ramsey investigation bolsters her parents' claims of innocence.
"I don't see the killer at the end of the Ramsey path," Smit said last week. "I see the killer at the end of the intruder path."Smit, a former Colorado Springs homicide investigator, worked on the murder investigation for Boulder District Attorney Alex Hunter in 1997 and 1998.
He quit the case in September 1998, in part, he said, because he believed Boulder police and prosecutors "had developed tunnel vision and were focusing only on the Ramsey family and not on other suspects," according to court documents filed last week.
Boulder police consistently have said the Ramseys are under "an umbrella of suspicion" in the 1996 murder.
Last week Smit discussed some of the evidence he says points away from the Ramseys: A basement window in the Ramseys' house in Boulder was found open after the girl's body was discovered, with signs that debris in the window well had been recently disturbed. Leaves and foam packing peanuts found in the window well also were found inside the basement. One foam pellet was found in the basement storage room where JonBenet's body was found, 60 feet from the window.
Detectives have said that they examined the window and found an undisturbed spider web across a portion of it, and they later asked an entomologist how long it might have been there. Detectives were told that the web apparently had been there for some time, suggesting an intruder didn't use the window.
A sole print from a Hi-Tec hiking shoe was found near the body. No one in the Ramsey family or their close friends owned that brand of shoe.
A suitcase, with what looks to be a shoe print on it, was found lying flat below the window, as if it had been used as a step. Boulder police say the mark is not a shoe print.
A metal baseball bat was found outside the basement window with fibers on it that matched those from the carpet in the room where JonBenet's body was found. JonBenet's skull was fractured by a blow to the head. Police have never identified a weapon; officers have examined a heavy flashlight that showed no fingerprints, and Ramsey's golf clubs.
Two pairs of small spotlike wounds were found on JonBenet, one on her back, another on her face. The marks were not visible when she was photographed during the Ramseys' holiday dinner at a friend's home on the afternoon before she died. The marks nearly match those that would be left by a specific type of stun gun called an Air Taser.
Arapahoe County Coroner Dr. Michael Doberson called the stun gun theory "compelling" when he recently examined photos.
Police seized a videotape from the Ramseys' house that discussed home protection techniques, including the use of a stun gun, but no such weapon has ever been found.
The garrote used to strangle JonBenet and found with her body was fashioned from the broken handle of one of Mrs. Ramsey's paintbrushes.
Around the stick, tied in a complex knot, was a length of nylon rope.
Nylon rope is seared at each end to prevent fraying; only one end of the garrote rope was burned. The other burned end was never found. Although Smit would not comment on it, sources have said the other piece of the broken paintbrush was not found either, suggesting the killer took it with him or her.
Police say the rope was purchased at a Boulder outdoor store.
The piece of duct tape over JonBenet's mouth did not match anything found in the Ramsey home.
Laboratory analysis, authorities have said, found four fibers on the tape that matched a coat Mrs. Ramsey wore the night before the killing.
Residues found beneath JonBenet's fingernails and in her panties produced DNA that has never been matched. This DNA was determined to be male but did not match Ramsey's.
To Smit, the evidence leaves too many questions unanswered to point to John and Patsy Ramsey.
"I want people to keep an open mind," he said.
"All through these years, there's been a question mark on every aspect of this case," Smit said. "All I want with the Ramseys is to put a question mark behind their name instead of this exclamation point that everybody's been trying to put there."
(Contact Dick Foster of the Denver Rocky Mountain News at http://www.denver-rmn.com.)