Ramsey detectives off to California

Police to meet with therapist of woman who claims possible link to case

By (c) 2000
Daily Camera Staff Writer, Boulder,  March 5, 2000

Boulder police detectives will be in San Luis Obispo, Calif., on Wednesday to interview the therapist of a woman who claims to have information possibly connected to the JonBenét Ramsey murder investigation.

Mary Bienkowski, a licensed family therapist, said detectives have scheduled to meet with her to discuss her client, a 37-year-old sex assault victim who has been seeing Bienkowski for 10 years.

Bienkowski said she believes her client may have important information about widespread sex rings that involve the abuse of children and may provide a possible link to the Dec. 26, 1996, strangulation and beating death of JonBenét Ramsey.

She said she encouraged her client to take the information to Boulder police so it could be fully investigated. Bienkowski has since become critical of the department and reluctant to cooperate with police.

On Feb. 22, Boulder police interviewed Bienkowski's client in Colorado for five hours. The FBI interviewed the woman the next day. Detectives also have contacted the members of the woman's family and have interviews with some of them scheduled in California this week.

Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner

on Friday would not confirm whether his detectives were in California.

Beckner also said he could not discuss whether the woman's information has led police to any promising leads in the Ramsey case.

"Right now it's still too early to say," he said. "We are still running things down and scheduling interviews and things like that....We are still working on it."

The woman lives just west of San Luis Obispo in Los Osos, where she worked as a home nurse's aide for elderly people. She is currently in hiding.

Bienkowski said she has turned over some of her client's files to police, but not all of them.

"I am being allowed to pick and choose those things that are directly related to this case," Bienkowski said.

San Luis Obispo County sheriff's deputies have said the woman has filed several criminal reports that investigators could not confirm, including a 1991 report that she had been raped.

Some of the woman's family members also cast doubt on some of her claims. One family member said he believes only 1 percent of her claims.

However, a friend of the woman defended her, saying she doesn't know whether the woman's claims are true or not, but that "I've always believed her."

The JonBenét Ramsey murder has gone unsolved for more than three years. John and Patsy Ramsey have been the focus of a Boulder police investigation into their daughter's death, but the couple has repeatedly denied any involvement.

March 5, 2000



The Daily Times-Call, Boulder, Colorado,  B.J. Plasket (c) 2000

BOULDER - When a California woman came forward last week with allegations
of ritualistic sexual abuse by a group that included people associated with
the JonBenet Ramsey murder case, Boulder police doubted her credibility.
Police in California went a step further, publicly calling her a "fruit loop."
But all that seems to be changing.

"It's being taken very seriously," Assistant District Attorney Bill Wise
said on Thursday.

At least two Boulder detectives have gone to California to check the
woman's claims and at least one FBI agent is also investigating. "I think the detectives are still out there," Wise said.

The 37-year-old woman claimed to have been sexually abused by adults in
and outside her family beginning when she was under five years old. Her claims include allegations that a rope-like device or garrote was used to partially asphyxiated her during the assaults. The woman's allegations in part target individuals who are believed to have been in Boulder on Christmas Day, 1996 when JonBenet Ramsey was strangled and beaten to death.

Boulder Attorney Lee Hill, who represents the California woman, was
unavailable for comment on Thursday. On Wednesday, however, he said he was "encouraged" by the law enforcement community's interest in his client's

It was District Attorney Alex Hunter who, after being contacted by a newspaper, called on both local police and the FBI to investigate the
woman's claims.  Hunter last week said if 15 percent of the woman's story is accurate, it could have an effect on the Ramsey investigation.
The woman making the allegations, meanwhile, is in hiding because of
alleged threats against her.

Famed forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht, who three years ago theorized that JonBenet was the victim of the same "erotic asphyxiation" now described by the California woman, said he is not surprised by the possible link to the Ramsey case.  Wecht, who has been a pathologist for 39 years and who is currently the coroner in Pittsburgh. Pa., said while the practice of using erotic asphyxiation against little girls is "aberrational sexual behavior" of the
worse sort, it is "not at all bizarre" for such allegations to surface. "I think it certainly has to be looked into," Wecht said. "It is certainly not to be disregarded."  Wecht said his experience indicates adults use the asphyxiation to create a "mild convulsion or seizure" in their victims. "They get a vicarious pleasure" in witnessing what they see as a simulated sexual climax by the child, he said. Wecht said it is not unusual for more than one or two people to be involved in such sessions. "They often do it in groups," he said.

Officials question tipster's reliability

Woman claiming to have information on Ramsey case has history of making false reports

By (c) 2000
Camera Staff Writer, February 27, 2000

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Sheriff's officials here say the woman claiming to have information critical to the JonBenét Ramsey murder case has a history of making false reports.

Among several alleged false claims, San Luis Obispo County sheriff officials said investigators spent hundreds of hours looking into the woman's claim in 1991 that she had been raped, which an investigation never confirmed.

In that case the woman gave specific information, naming a suspect. Deputies later verified that the person had been out of state at the time the crime was alleged to have taken place and could not have been involved.

"She has filed a number of reports with us and most of them have been determined to be unfounded," Deputy Sgt. C.J. Bell said.

Deputies have been called to the witness' home, in a town west of San Luis Obispo, to respond to several harassing phone calls, two cases of suspicious circumstances and a burglary, according to local law enforcement officials.

Law enforcement officials say the victim may have made even more calls for service in which officers chose not to file reports

The woman made headlines in Colorado this week after giving a five-hour interview to Boulder police detectives Tuesday in which she described her own history of sexual abuse and its relationship to a possible sex ring that may have lead to 6-year-old JonBenét's death.

Early on in their investigation, Boulder police pursued the possibility that JonBenét had been sexually abused prior to the night of her murder. Search warrant affidavits indicated they searched the Ramsey household for evidence of pornography, but found no such evidence.

Although Boulder police detectives noted credibility problems in the woman's statements, Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter

pushed for a full investigation, saying witnesses who may have memory problems from past abuse should not automatically be discounted.

The FBI also has interviewed the woman, who is now in hiding.

The woman's therapist, Mary Bienkowski, stands behind her client's statements, saying police need to investigate the claims to determine their legitimacy. Bienkowski has declined to respond to Boulder police detectives' repeated requests for interviews.

Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner

said Saturday three detectives are still working on verifying the woman's information. He declined to comment further, saying too much information about the investigation has already been made public.

Boulder attorney Lee Hill, who represents the woman, said his client acknowledges making reports to local authorities that have not been followed up. But the woman denies that her reports were false, Hill said.

She could not be reached for comment Saturday.

"They have refused to believe her," Hill said of California law enforcement officials. "This is part of the reason she is seeking a more objective law enforcement agency's review."

Hill also responded to one San Luis Obispo deputy's remark that the woman is considered a "fruit loop" by officers here.

"What they said is absolutely offensive," Hill said. "That underlines the problem with that law enforcement agency."

Hill said part of the woman's troubles stem from the fact that "some of the people that she complains of have a lot of power and influence.

Contact at (303) 473-1355 or [email protected]