Sensational claims made ahead of the 20th anniversary of JonBenet Ramsey's appalling murder could prove utterly useless in bringing her killer to justice.

The world is reeling after explosive revelations from The Case Of JonBenet Ramsey documentary, which claimed the six-year-old pageant queen died at the hands of her brother, Burke.

But the chief law enforcement official for Boulder, Colorado, has warned that a conviction will be incredibly hard to achieve.

District Attorney Stanley Garrett has inherited a curse. JonBenet's brutal killing has weighed heavily on our collective consciousness for 20 years this Christmas, and as the grim anniversary approaches, calls are mounting to find justice for the murdered child.

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But in a sobering Facebook post, the man whose working life has revolved around this dark legacy wrote that at this time, "no charges can be filed".

He said that despite demands from viewers of a recent slew of television specials to "reopen the case" (it is in fact still open), his hands are tied - for now.

'YOU WEREN'T PAYING ATTENTION'

At nine years old, Burke was too young to be charged with a crime in the state of Colorado. Most frustratingly for those involved, a grand jury voted in 1998 to indict both John and Patsy Ramsey on charges of child abuse resulting in her death on Christmas night in 1996. But then-District Attorney Alex Hunter refused to sign the indictment, believing he could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Mr Garrett explained on Facebook last night: "The Statute of Limitations ran on those charges long before I was sworn into office in January 2009, thus barring completely the possibility of filing them.

"As I have always said, I will file charges if there is admissible evidence available to support a charge for which the Statute of Limitations has not run against an identifiable person. There is no such evidence, currently, regardless of whatever theory is postulated on TV and hence no charges can be filed."

The much-maligned Mr Hunter left office in 2001 after 28 years in the job. His tenure was followed by that of Mary Lacy, who in 2008 completely exonerated the Ramseys of any wrongdoing based on a lack of DNA evidence, going as far as to write them a public apology.

Dr Phil explains Burke Ramsey's bizarre composure and odd smile in front of the cameras left viewers troubled.
Dr Phil explains Burke Ramsey's bizarre composure and odd smile in front of the cameras left viewers troubled.

Last night's documentary cast serious doubt on the validity of this decision, with expert Dr Henry Lee saying the unidentified male DNA found in JonBenet's underwear was of a type that could come from the clothes manufacturer.

It appears Mr Garrett thinks little of his predecessors, writing in his Facebook post: "That Alex Hunter served many terms is because the voters weren't paying attention.

"Mary Lacy was his replacement and she exonerated the Ramseys. Leadership is what is needed ... especially if the community wants to change the system."

'THE RAMSEYS INTIMIDATED THE DA'

JonBenet Ramsey with mother Patricia. Photo / Supplied
JonBenet Ramsey with mother Patricia. Photo / Supplied

Police investigating the case at the time spoke of a deep divide between the DA's office and local police. In the CBS documentary, former Boulder officer Gretchen Smith said: "You should be partners in this job, we weren't at all."

She claimed Mr Hunter's office "did not want to hear that an affluent member of the community was guilty of a crime like this."

Boulder police detective Steve Thomas blamed the DA for preventing the case from being solved. He said their obstructions included refusing to supply search warrants, not allowing collection of credit card receipts and phone records and providing the family with copies of police reports before they were interviewed.

"The Ramseys intimidated the DA's office," he said. Thomas eventually resigned in disgust after hearing Mr Hunter describe the question of whether to indict the couple as a "political decision."

He wrote a resignation letter condemning the prosecutor as too timid and the DA's office "thoroughly compromised".

Boulder police department remain determined to crack JonBenet's case, according to chief of police Greg Testa, who released a video statement at the start of this month.

"This is an open investigation," he said. "Investigators from our major crimes unit are assigned to this case. They receive and evaluate information on a regular basis.

"Our goal continues to be an arrest and successful prosecution, which is why we will not discuss or release details or evidence in this investigation.

"Publications and movies offer many theories on how this crime occurred and who is responsible, facts have been surmised and often distorted.

"To date, Boulder Police Department has processed more than 1500 pieces of evidence, including the analysis of over 200 DNA samples. Our major crime unit has received, reviewed or investigated over 20,000 tips, letters or emails. Our detectives have travelled to over 18 states and interviewed or spoken with more than 1000 individuals.

"We continue to review and examine our practices and procedures and use advancements in technology to further this investigation. We remain focused on this investigation and finding justice for JonBenet."

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I am being very careful what i say about the Ramsey case due to the obvious ethical constraints on me as the sitting elected district attorney for the 20th Judicial District. However, for all who have watched various 20th anniversary specials and want to know why we are not "reopening" the case and pursuing the charges the Grand Jury supported in the true bills of 1999, know that the Statute of Limitations ran on those charges long before I was sworn into office in January 2...009, thus barring completely the possibility of filing them. As i have always said, i will file charges if there is admissible evidence available to support a charge for which the Statute of Limitations has not run against an identifiable person. There is no such evidence, currently, regardless of whatever theory is postulated on TV and hence no charges can be filed. This case provides a good opportunity for the public to understand how the Colorado Justice system actually works and how it protects the rights of both victims and defendants. For those who wish a more detailed discussion with me, email me at sgarnett@bouldercounty.org

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WHAT NEXT?

JonBenet Ramsey. Photo / Supplied
JonBenet Ramsey. Photo / Supplied

The Case of JonBenet Ramsey has caused an uproar. The family's lawyer L Lin Wood denounced the documentary as "false and unprofessional television attack" and threatened to sue the network for libel, the ABC reported.

Mr Wood, who said he had successfully sued other media outlets over similar accusations against Burke, branded the program riddled with "lies, misrepresentations, distortions and omissions".

"I will be filing a lawsuit on behalf of Burke Ramsey," said the Atlanta lawyer.

"CBS's false and unprofessional attacks on this young man are disgusting and revolting."

The network responded with a statement: "CBS stands by the broadcast and will do so in court."

The criminal defence lawyer who represented Lindy Chamberlain also slammed the documentary - labelling the series "offensive" and a "travesty".

There will be more drama to come, with further documentaries scheduled to run in the lead up to Christmas, including telemovie Who Killed JonBenet? airing in the US in November.

The experts who worked on this week's documentary suggested they would like to see further DNA testing conducted on other objects present at the crime scene, including the torch they claim Burke used to hit his sister over the head and kill her.

Both the police and the Ramseys claimed they had never seen the torch - although it was described as similar to a gift given to the family by Mr Ramsey's eldest son from his first marriage.

DNA on the garotte placed around JonBenet's neck and the ransom note some still suspect was written by Mrs Ramsey could also be looked at again, the experts recommended. They say both were part of an elaborate cover-up, although the murdered child's mother provided five handwriting samples at the time without a definite conclusion being reached.

As long as technology continues to develop, and with the possibility someone who knows something could still come forward, there is still a sliver of hope for JonBenet Ramsey.