A paedophile photographer who was once questioned for the 1996 murder of JonBenét Ramsey should be a prime suspect in the then six-year-old beauty pageant queen's tragic death, his former friend exclusively tells DailyMail.com.

Randy Simons, 66, is currently in Lane County Jail in Eugene, Oregon awaiting trial after being charged on July 2 with 15 counts of child pornography.

"I am begging the police to look again at this man," said pageant seamstress Pamela Griffin, who introduced Simons to the Ramsey family when they wanted their daughter to have a professional modelling portfolio.

This is the well known photograph of pageant princess JonBenét Ramsey taken by Simons in June 1995 after being introduced to her parents by seamstress Pamela Griffin.
This is the well known photograph of pageant princess JonBenét Ramsey taken by Simons in June 1995 after being introduced to her parents by seamstress Pamela Griffin.

Speaking at her home in Longmont, Colorado, Pamela revealed she has been warning police for two decades that Simons, who told her he did not have an alibi for the night of JonBenét's murder, should be treated as their top suspect in the girl's death.

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She also gave police proof Simons had the exact type of nylon cord at his home that would later be found used as a garrote close to JonBenét's body - but reveals investigators never got back to her.

Her fears are now echoed by top investigator Boulder County Sheriff's Detective Steve Ainsworth, who was once brought in by Boulder District Attorney Alex Hunter to review the investigation into the girl's murder.

Detective Ainsworth interviewed Simons in 1997 but, in light of the photographer now being charged as a paedophile, wants him interrogated again over JonBenét's death.

Speaking from his office in Boulder, Colorado, he said 'I can't remember what he told me the first time I saw him. But no matter who we interview they never tell us the entire truth the first time.

"Sometimes they'll think of something later, or they purposefully hide things they don't want us to know.

"If he's been doing kiddie porn then it's been for a long time. Obviously, he didn't want us to know about it then. So what else did he not tell us?

"I would want investigators to go and talk to him, to go through all his computers and phones, downloaded media, all of that."

Photographer Randy Simons, 66, was arrested on July 2 in Oakridge, Oregon and charged with 15 counts of downloading child pornography.
Photographer Randy Simons, 66, was arrested on July 2 in Oakridge, Oregon and charged with 15 counts of downloading child pornography.

Pamela had given Simons' card to Patsy Ramsey, convinced the photographs would help her daughter's career.

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On June 5, 1995, Simons took the photos of JonBenét, accompanied by Patsy, in various locations close to the Ramsey family home in Boulder, Colorado.

Patsy was delighted with the results and grateful to Pamela, whose daughter Kristine acted as JonBenét's pageant coach.

But on December 26, 1996, JonBenét's lifeless body was found by her father John Ramsey in the basement of the house.

Detectives believed she had been killed the night before, on Christmas, either from a blow to the head or through strangulation by garrote, made from a white nylon cord and paintbrush handle found nearby.

Pamela, 72, described to DailyMail.com how Simons had been a longtime friend but began to act strangely immediately after JonBenét's death.

She said, "Randy used to call me on occasion and confide to me about his marital woes, but after JonBenét's death, he called acting odd.

"He was saying things like, 'I have a feeling the Boulder Police Department think I'm responsible in some way for JonBenét's death and I can't prove that I didn't do it. And I don't have an alibi for where I was on Christmas Day 1996.

"I told him he needed one, but he said he didn't want Lynda, his wife at the time, to find out where he had been. I didn't know if he was having an affair or hiding something else."

It is unclear what Simons would have needed to keep secret from Lynda, whom he had been married to since 1971.

Court papers obtained by DailyMail.com show Simons had already been separated from his wife since July 1, 1996.

And while Lynda stayed in the marital home in the Denver suburb of Littleton, Simons had been living for several years in Genoa, a sleepy town in eastern Colorado with a population of 139.

Simons may have been worried after being questioned early on in the investigation by Detective Ainsworth.

Beauty pageant queen JonBenét Ramsey's death in 1996 shocked the nation and Boulder Police Department were criticized for never catching her killer.
Beauty pageant queen JonBenét Ramsey's death in 1996 shocked the nation and Boulder Police Department were criticized for never catching her killer.

The lawman told DailyMail.com he remembers travelling 130 miles from Boulder to visit Simons at his Genoa home, which Simons had converted from a food store.

Well-known as JonBenét's photographer, Simons was an obvious person to question about the girl's death.

In June 1997 Simons had sold a portfolio of portraits of the beauty queen to a picture agency for $7,500.

Detective Ainsworth said, "He had been her pageant photographer, so it made sense to see her. It's been many years and I can't remember what alibi he gave us, but we did not take him as a serious suspect at the time."

In his book on the JonBenét case "Perfect Murder Perfect Town", author Lawrence Schiller said Simons told Ainsworth he had been in Genoa the night JonBenét was killed.

Schiller claimed District Attorney Alex Hunter's office also managed to obtain saliva from one of Simons' used cigarette butts and was able to show his DNA did not match that found out the crime scene.

However, in 2015 former Boulder police chief Mark Beckner admitted crime scene evidence may have been mishandled.

He told reddit, "Yes the crime scene was not handled properly, and this later affected the investigation."

But while police had eliminated Simons from their suspect list, the photographer was still convinced they were going to arrest him.

Remembering a call he made to her in late 1997, Pamela said: "He said things to me like, 'I know they think I did this…and I know they are going to pin it on me. Everyone thinks I killed her."

But there were many things Simons had kept secret from her. One of them was his criminal past.

DailyMail.com has uncovered court papers in Arapahoe County Court, Littleton, showing he was charged with assault on December 28, 1990, after threatening to fire a bow and arrow at a man.

Simons was given two years probation, ordered to carry out 100 hours community service and banned from keeping weapons in his home.

Pamela knew none of this and explained she had trusted Simons so much she had even allowed him to often photograph her daughter Kristine, always in her presence.

But that all changed when she leafed through photos he had taken of her daughter Kristine in Denver, Colorado from several years earlier.

The site where Jonbenet Ramsey was killed in Boulder, Colorado, 1996. Photo / Getty Images
The site where Jonbenet Ramsey was killed in Boulder, Colorado, 1996. Photo / Getty Images

Pamela said: "The picture had my daughter holding a kite as a prop, one that Randy had given her.

"I believe the nylon rope it was attached to was the same type as that used in the garrote to kill JonBenét. I went to the police."

"It's been years since I dropped off the picture to them, it was the only one I had. I haven't heard a word from them since about it.

"After his arrest on child pornography charges and his other arrests, it's obvious he had a lot of dark secrets he kept from people.

"We all have secrets but some are far darker than others. Considering his recent arrest, I am begging the Boulder police to take a long hard look at him again."

On October 16, 1998 Simons was arrested for indecent exposure when he walked down Genoa Main Street nude.

In the incident report by Lincoln County Sheriff Department, obtained by DailyMail.com, an unprompted Simons stressed to the arresting officer he was not JonBenét's killer.

Deputy Tony Schiefelbein wrote: "Simons told me that 'they' want to kill him, but that he didn't kill Jon Bonette (sic) Ramsey. I asked Simons who is trying to kill him, he told me that he has no idea."

Simons was placed under observation in a psychiatric ward and later released.

DailyMail.com spoke with Valinda Eberle, 61, who worked at the Genoa Post Office near Simons' home and described the photographer's disturbing behaviour.

She said: "He told me lots of times he took JonBenét Ramsey's picture because she was such a pretty little girl. He was also telling us that somebody was out to get him.

"I was into ham radio and he invited me to his home because he had a business selling and repairing ham radio parts.

"He had pictures up on his wall in his house. The majority of them were young girls, beauty contestants. He liked to do the little kids' pageants.

"He would say JonBenét was pretty and he kept telling me, 'Somebody did it. But it wasn't me. I said, 'Well are you a suspect? Because if you are you can go back to wherever you came from.' He said. 'No, I didn't do it, I just took pictures of her'."

John and Patsy Ramsey, the parents of JonBenet Ramsey, in 1997. Photo / Getty Images
John and Patsy Ramsey, the parents of JonBenet Ramsey, in 1997. Photo / Getty Images

Valinda found the comments he made about children disturbing. She said: "He was a little off. He gave out a lot of little hints. 'Oh, you should see them, they're so pretty. I wonder what they look like photographed?'"

She remembers being the one to call police when he left her post office and stripped off.

Valinda said: "He was upset about something. He left and the next thing I know he's streaking down Main Street. Naked. No clothes. Nothing.

"He came into the post office a few weeks later. He said he didn't remember what had happened. He left shortly afterwards and moved to Oregon where he had relatives.

"Now that he has been caught with child pornography, I would hope police look at him again."

Simons moved to Oakridge, Oregon - 50 miles from Eugene - and on July 1, 1999 was officially divorced from Lynda.

He had been attempting in recent years to rekindle his career as a child portrait photographer.

But his secret love for child porn was only exposed when he used the WiFi of an A&W fast food restaurant next door to his roadside cabin and downloaded sickening images on August 11, 2018.

Detective Robert Weaver, a digital forensic analyst from nearby Springfield Police Department headed the investigation into Simons after A&W reported the download to them.

Weaver caught Simons downloading a further 14 images up to June 27 this year.

On July 2, he arrested Simons after raiding his home and seizing four laptops, three camcorders, two bags of writable optical discs and six cameras.

In an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com, Detective Weaver said, "I have a whole myriad of devices, CDs and flashcards to sift through.

"We may find evidence of another crime. It's just the same as when we go into somebody's house, looking for one thing and stumbling across something else.

"I won't know until I dive into it completely. If we are able to ascertain a crime in another jurisdiction occurred, we would of course alert the authorities there.

JonBenet Ramsey with her mother Patricia. Photo / File
JonBenet Ramsey with her mother Patricia. Photo / File

"In these cases, we'll often find evidence of a totally different crime. We will look at email, peer-to-peer exchanges, see if things are being stored on external media like thumb drives."

Simons will remain in custody until he stands trial at the Lane County Circuit Court in Eugene on August 30.

The JonBenét murder case is now handled by Boulder Police Department.

Detective Weaver said no investigator has reached out to him despite the widespread news of Simons' arrest.

Boulder Police spokesperson Laurie Ogden told DailyMail.com, "The Boulder Police Department is aware of Mr Simons. We will not comment on the status of this investigation."