NEARLY 20 YEARS after JonBenet Ramsey’s murder remains unsolved, a team of experts got together and scrutinized the case and we got to see their work unfold recently on a two-part television program.

I don’t watch much TV, but I was riveted to this program, which detailed how they reconstructed the case and even built a replica of the rooms inside the Ramsey house in Boulder, Colorado, where the 6-year-old girl’s body was found the day after Christmas 1996. To further the authenticity of the environment, reconstructionists placed items in the rooms at the exact places they appear in actual crime scene photos.

With new technology and better methods now for solving crimes, the team came up with a new theory behind JonBenet’s death which seemed very plausible — that someone in the house killed her, perhaps accidentally.

As I watched the show unfold, I could not help but wish this team of experts, including former FBI officials, a former Scotland Yard criminal behavioral analyst, forensic pathologist, forensic scientist, retired district attorney investigator and retired forensic linguistic profiler, would come to Waterville, Maine, and do the same with the Ayla Reynolds case.

Though the cases are different, they are similar in some ways and I find them both troubling.

JonBenet and Ayla, who was 20 months old when she disappeared, were beautiful, blonde, blue-eyed children, so innocent and so vulnerable.

JonBenet is dead; Ayla is presumed dead.

It will have been 20 years on Dec. 25 since JonBenet died. Ayla will have been gone five years on Dec. 17, as she was reported missing from her grandmother’s Violette Avenue home on that day in 2011.

I am haunted by both cases, knowing that there are adults out there in this world who know what happened, yet they will not come forward.

Killing a child is a heinous crime because not only does it involve subduing and snuffing out the life of a defenseless human being so much smaller than the perpetrator, but it is recklessly removing any chance the child has to grow up, attend school, get a job she loves, marry, perhaps have kids and then grow happily old.

I believe that even if child deaths are accidental, not reporting them and covering them up is, in many ways, as egregious a crime as murder.

Family and friends are forever tortured by the lack of knowing what happened, particularly when a child disappears into thin air, as Ayla did.

I’m not going to second-guess police methods for investigating such crimes. They certainly know a lot more than we laypeople do about the process.

It appears from the recent Boulder investigation by the panel of experts that things could have been done differently on the day JonBenet’s body was discovered. The crime scene was tainted and friends of the family were able to come and go as they pleased, and JonBenet’s father was allowed to pick up her body where it was found in the basement and carry it upstairs — and then move it a second time.

The Ayla investigation grows colder each year, but investigators continue to work the case and have vowed never to give up.

I know many of those who investigated and continue to investigate, and they are smart, assiduous, diligent professionals dedicated to solving the case.

It’s amazing to me that those knowledgeable about Ayla and JonBenet’s deaths have skated as long as they have, but sometimes it takes time for the truth to be fleshed out, and some people are so manipulative that they can manage to skirt the law for years.

I’m convinced that when the stars line up in the right places — and they will — the JonBenet and Ayla cases will not only be brought to light, but they will also be prosecuted, and those responsible will be forced to face the music.

They are not living in purgatory suffering as the victims’ families and friends have been for years. Sociopaths and psychopaths feel no guilt.

While JonBenet’s and Ayla’s families and friends may feel their voices are weakening as time goes by, they can rest assured that those of us who have not forgotten them or their loved little ones continue to support them.

JonBenet did not commit suicide, just as Ayla did not merely walk off the face of the earth.

The longer we keep shouting those simple facts out to the universe, the longer we keep their memories alive.

I’m confident that one of these days, we’re all going to find resolution.

And finally, some peace.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 28 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.


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