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DNA tests 'clear JonBenet family'

Patsy and John Ramsey, pictured in May 2000
Police had said JonBenet's family was under suspicion in her death

US prosecutors say DNA tests have cleared the family of JonBenet Ramsey over the child beauty queen's murder.

Mary Lacy, district attorney in Boulder County, Colorado, said they pointed to an "unexplained third party".

Police initially said parents John and Patsy Ramsey were under an "umbrella of suspicion" over the six-year-old's 1996 killing. Mrs Ramsey died in 2006.

Ms Lacy said no family member was now considered a suspect and apologised for any extra distress caused to them.

Six-year-old JonBenet's body was found in the cellar of her family home in Colorado after her parents had reported her missing on 26 December 1996.

She had been garrotted with a cord and her skull had been fractured.

Her family, who later moved to Atlanta, Georgia, fought for years to clear their names amid persistent accusations they were involved in her death.

Accusations

Ms Lacy released a copy of a letter sent to John Ramsey, in which she said: "To the extent that we may have contributed in any way to the public perception that you might have been involved in this crime, I am deeply sorry."

The suspicions about the Ramseys in this case created an ongoing living hell for the Ramsey family and their friends
Mary Lacy
Boulder district attorney

She added that she wished it had been possible to clear JonBenet's parents and their son Burke, who was nine when his sister was killed, before Mrs Ramsey died of ovarian cancer.

In a press statement, Ms Lacy said that following scientific advances, police had been able to identify genetic material and a DNA profile from underwear she was wearing when she died.

"That genetic profile belongs to a man and does not belong to anyone in the Ramsey family," she said.

The male profile has been entered into the national DNA data bank, Ms Lacy said, and is believed by prosecutors to be that of the killer.

Ms Lacy commented on the huge media interest that JonBenet's killing and the subsequent investigations had provoked.

JonBenet Ramsey, pictured in undated family video
Six-year-old JonBenet had won numerous child beauty queen titles

"The suspicions about the Ramseys in this case created an ongoing living hell for the Ramsey family and their friends, which added to their suffering from the unexplained and devastating loss of JonBenet," she said.

While it appeared that they were being tried in the press, the Ramseys were never charged. In 1999, a grand jury refused to indict either parent.

And in 2003, a federal judge in Atlanta concluded that the evidence that she had reviewed suggested that an intruder had killed JonBenet.

In 2006, a former teacher was arrested in Thailand after he claimed to have killed JonBenet, but DNA tests cleared him of the crime.

John Mark Karr had said he was with her on the night that she died, but that her death was an accident.




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