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Last Friday the Ramseys flew back to Colorado amid spreading press reports that their daughter's body bore signs of sexual abuse. The Denver Post reported that the ransom note was written on paper from a pad already in the Ramsey home. During a news conference on the same afternoon, Leslie Aaholm and Boulder mayor Leslie Durgin said the Ramseys would be interviewed by arrangement with their attorneys within a few days. The officials reiterated the assurance that Boulder parents need not fear for their children and defended the police department's taciturn refusal to compromise the investigation by disclosing information. Earlier, police chief Tom Koby had made a similar, if startling, defense. "We're going to run this investigation the way we see fit," he said. "What we don't want is another O.J. walking the streets after this is done."
Memories of the Simpson investigation may haunt local police, but the public fascination with this case seems to stem from recollections of Susan Smith's tearful televised pleas to an alleged carjacker to return the two sons she had already drowned in a South Carolina lake. Bereaved relatives have become suspects in the court of public opinion. Such before-the-evidence perceptions overshadow the loss of a precious child. Bill McReynolds, a retired journalism professor at the University of Colorado, has played Santa Claus for the past three years at the Ramseys' Christmas party for neighborhood kids. He remembers how JonBenet gave him a vial of stardust for his beard this season. "JonBenet believed in Santa Claus," he says. "I don't think there was a doubt in her mind." Three days later, she was gone.
--Reported by Dianne Freeman/Boulder and Richard Woodbury/Denver