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Friday, October 15, 1999 Published at 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK

World: Americas

Hunt goes on for JonBenet killer

A candlelight vigil held for JonBenet in Boulder, Colorado

The senior prosecutor in the investigation into the murder of the American child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey has vowed to pursue her killer and says her parents have not been eliminated as suspects.

Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter said this week's decision not to indict anyone for the murder had left him with "an aching heart".

On Wednesday, it was announced that a 13-month grand jury investigation into the slaying had not found enough evidence to charge anyone.

[ image: JonBenet Ramsey died on Boxing Day 1996]
JonBenet Ramsey died on Boxing Day 1996
JonBenet Ramsey's parents, Jon and Patsy, reported their daughter missing on Boxing Day 1996.

Mrs Ramsay said kidnappers had left a ransom note demanding $118,000 for her return.

However, the six-year-old's body was discovered just hours later in the basement of the family home in Boulder.

She had been strangled and beaten to death. An autopsy revealed that she might well have been sexually assaulted.

Both parents had been under investigation.

Aching heart

Despite the jury's decision, Mr Hunter vowed the search for her killer would go on.

[ image: Pat Ramsey: Living in a ''nightmare'']
Pat Ramsey: Living in a ''nightmare''
"I have an aching heart about where we are with this case, but by no means do I feel a sense of failure ... We will continue to follow the evidence. We feel there is no reason to quit," he added.

Asked whether JonBenet's parents were still under suspicion, Mr Hunter replied: "They have not been eliminated from this investigation.''

Colorado Governor Bill Owens has meanwhile appointed a seven-member panel to advise him whether to appoint a special prosecutor. The decision will be made within a week.

Ransom note

Much of the evidence in the case has been inconclusive. Laboratory tests showed the ransom note had been written with a pen and pad that belonged to the Ramseys, but handwriting experts could not determine who had written it.

Mr Hunter refused to discuss the investigation, or to explain why JonBenet's parents were not called to testify.

The Ramseys, who have long protested their innocence, released a statement saying they were living in a "nightmare", victims of a "public lynching".

Boulder County Police Chief Mark Beckner said they remained under ''an umbrella of suspicion''.

"This case is not dead in the water. We still have things to do and we have things we are doing," he added.

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