DENVER — Nearly a decade before DNA evidence cleared the parents of JonBenet Ramsey in the killing of their 6-year-old daughter, a grand jury had decided to indict the couple on charges of child abuse leading to the girl’s death, according to documents unsealed Friday.
The documents from 1999, released in response to a lawsuit brought by a newspaper reporter and a press-freedom group, provided a new detail in the tangled story of one of Colorado’s most notorious unsolved murders.
JonBenet, a child beauty queen, was found strangled and bludgeoned in the basement of her family’s home in Boulder, Colo., the day after Christmas in 1996.
Three years later, a grand jury voted to charge John and Patsy Ramsey with “knowingly, recklessly, and feloniously” placing the girl in a position that led to her death. However, prosecutors declined to file criminal charges against the couple, who had long declared their innocence.
The grand jury’s secret indictment was first disclosed in January by a local newspaper, The Boulder Daily Camera.
In 2008, Boulder County prosecutors, citing DNA evidence, exonerated the family, which had lived for years shadowed by suspicions.