BOULDER, Colo., boasts some of the nation's most enviable crime statistics. The city of 91,000 records only one or two homicides a year. That scarcity of cases means police and prosecutors lack the experience that was sorely needed in the investigation of JonBenet Ramsey's death.
The police commander who oversaw the investigation had never led a homicide case. Neither had the city's police chief.
Foolishly, Boulder refused help from experts, including members of the Denver Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Local prosecutors, who should have ceded the case to more experienced professionals, only added to the ineptitude.
The result is that a murder that has captivated the nation for nearly three years is likely to go unsolved. The Colorado grand jury's decision not to hand down an indictment in the 6-year-old girl's death perpetuates a mystery that could have been solved with more skilled handling in the early stages.
Detectives, for example, neglected to treat the 15-room home as a crime scene or search it properly. They watched as John Ramsey moved the girl's body from the basement of the home and removed duct tape from her mouth, hopelessly contaminating evidence.
This case was too big for Boulder. Prosecutors failed to get an indictment from the more than 1,000 pieces of evidence, 590 interview and 30,000 pages of case filings.
Colorado Gov. Bill Owens is now considering a special prosecutor to handle the investigation. That's a good idea, but it comes quite late.
That a young girl's murder can be so miserably botched because investigators and prosecutors were too proud or naive to seek help is inexcusable.