After the death of the six-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey, investigators scrambled to solve a murder that had many unanswered pieces of information. And after working on the case for more than 10 years, the prosecution was unable to name any concrete suspects or come any closer to solving the case. One woman who played a major role in the criminal investigation into the Ramsey murder was Mary Lacy, the Boulder District Attorney who worked on the case.
Lacy, who graduated with honors from the University of Iowa College of Law, served as the Boulder County DA from 2001 to 2009. It was during Lacy's tenure as the Boulder district attorney that the Ramsey case was being investigated. Before receiving the promotion to the position, she also spent 10 years as chief of the Sexual Assault Unit in the District Attorney’s Office, during which time she created both the Sex Assault Unit and the Sex Assault Review Team, units which are devoted to sex crimes.
Lacy made headlines in the Ramsey case when she issued a formal apology in 2008 to the Ramsey family, which stated that no one in the family was considered a suspect. Although the Ramsey parents maintained their innocence, they became suspects and underwent intense scrutiny in the public eye in the subsequent years following the murder before being exonerated.
The letter, which went into great detail about the investigation, not only cleared the family of guilt, but also acknowledged the difficulty and suffering the case and the accompanying media attention must have brought to the Ramsey family, saying, "in a highly publicized case, the detrimental impact of publicity and suspicion on people lives can be extreme. The suspicions about the Ramseys in this case created an ongoing living hell for the Ramsey family and their friends, which added to their suffering from the unexplained and devastating loss of Jonbenet."
It is the responsibility of every prosecutor to seek justice. That responsibility includes seeking justice for people whose reputations and lives can be damaged irreparably by the lingering specter of suspicion. In a highly publicized case, the detrimental impact of publicity and suspicion on peoples lives can be extreme. The suspicions about the Ramseys in this case created an ongoing living hell for the Ramsey family and their friends, which added to their suffering from the unexplained and devastating loss of JonBenet.
The apology came two years after Patsy Ramsey had died of ovarian cancer, and even though the parents and their older son, Burke, were never formally charged, Lacy still issued a public exoneration to the family. One of the main pieces of evidence that cleared the Ramseys was a forensic analysis that identified DNA that belonged to a male, but not to a member of the Ramsey family.
Since 2009, Lacy has dedicated a lot of her time to reform programs for children. She worked with nonprofit organizations, co-founding Blue Sky bridge, a child and family advocacy center that focuses on preventing childhood sexual abuse, and has worked in other organizations such as the Aging Services Foundation.