Lt. Joe Kenda Explains How Justice Can Still Be Served For Three Infamous, Unsolved Cases

cold-cases-bookazine

In honor of Investigation Discovery’s newsstand special issue, Unsolved, we share Lt. Joe Kenda’s insights on three cases that rocked the nation. Read excerpts of the Homicide Hunter’s expert take on these chilling cases:

TARA CALICO: A POLAROID OF A GAGGED WOMAN RESEMBLING A MISSING TEEN SURFACES. BUT HER BODY, LIKE HER KIDNAPPER, HAS NEVER BEEN FOUND

Kenda’s Take: Tara was obviously the victim of a kidnap homicide. Hollywood would again have us believe that physical evidence solves all crime like it does on CSI. That could not be further from the truth. On occasion, the killer(s) is not clever, just lucky. The theory of the sheriff Rivera works best. Murders are simple, not complicated. Time may loosen someone’s tongue. It often does.

JONBENET RAMSEY: NEARLY TWO DECADES AFTER THE 6-YEAR-OLD BEAUTY QUEEN’S MURDER, THE WORLD IS STILL BAFFLED BY HER DEATH

Kenda’s Take: I had just retired from the CSPD when this crime occurred in Boulder, Colorado. I was approached and consulted with well after the event by the Boulder Police Department, so I am quite familiar with facts not known to the public. In my opinion, gross deficiencies occurred during the initial stages of this investigation by the Boulder Police Department. These deficiencies were so great they produced fatal errors and preclude any possibility of this matter ever being presented in court. Murder cases are like a spinning top on a table: One should admire it first and study it carefully before proceeding. Touch it too soon, and it goes off the table. And you never get it back. That little girl remains in her grave, and no one will pay for it.

THE ZODIAC KILLER: AMERICA’S MOST FEARED KILLER IS TECHNICALLY STILL AT LARGE, STILL VEXING LAW ENFORCEMENT

Kenda’s Take: This deeply disturbed individual stopped his crime wave suddenly and without explanation which gave rise to conspiracy theories. In my opinion, he or she stopped because they were unable to continue. They did not suddenly realize the error of their ways and stop killing. Given the depth of their mental illness, the most likely reason remains suicide.

Get the full issue of Unsolved on newsstands or Amazon –featuring more than 50 cases and 100-plus photos, as well as a map breaking down the unsolved crime rates by state, an interview with NYPD’s Cold Case squad, updates from friends and family of the victims and an exclusive interview with Natalee Holloway’s father about how they’re still trying to solve the case.

  • Betsy Bachhuber Phariss

    Was really hopeing the Jonbenet Ramsey case would someday be solved. I still believe it was an inside job, committed by either one of her parents, or the brother.

    • Marsha Wolf

      At first I was convinced that it was the parents, or the brother. Those people just acted so strangely at the time. Now, I realize I’m not sure, but I still wouldn’t write those parents off.

    • rain

      And how did an 11 year old hang his sister?

      • Betsy Bachhuber Phariss

        She was hung? Even if she was, I’ll bet he could have done it. After hearing about what some children have done these days, it wouldn’t surprise me at all. Jelousey does terrible things to people.

        • Andy

          Jonbenet did not die by hanging. She was first bludgeoned, an injury that, in and of itself would have killed her, and then her killer used a makeshift garrote to strangle her. If you read details about the case, you can see how he could have killed his sister. Foreign Faction by James Kolar (one of the investigators assigned to the case) provides a great deal of detail from the case files, to include information about Burke’s (the brother) potential involvement. He also breaks down the Ramsey’s claims/theories on the case, and shows how outlandish they truly are. Touch DNA evidence is continually used in an attempt to support the “intruder” theory (i.e. that she was murdered by someone who was not in her immediate family), but the truth is that touch DNA is not reliable in this case, because it could have come from anywhere. Touch DNA is everywhere around us and can be transferred from a source to something like a garment (as it is in this case) through incidental/accidental contact. In this case, the DNA that was collected from Jon Benet’s clothes was not from semen or blood, which would NOT be touch DNA, would NOT be present in such a situation by accidental/incidental means, and would clearly point to a specific perpetrator. In fact, the police purchased from a store and tested directly out of the package, garments similar to those Jonbenet was wearing. They found these new, unused garments also contained touch DNA samples that more than likely were transferred to the garments during production/packaging in the factory. On the other hand, the last thing that Jonbenet ate before being murdered was pineapple. The family all denied that she could have had access to pineapple, yet there was a bowl of chopped pineapple and with a glass of tea in the house at the time of the initial investigation. The only fingerprints found on the glass and bowl/can were of Burke and Patsy Ramsey.

          • Betsy Bachhuber Phariss

            Considering what they claimed about the pineapple, would the pineapple become some sort of “tell”? Why would they say she had no access to pineapple, when obviously, she did? How many random killers walk into your home, feed you pineapple, then kill you? Interesting.

          • Andy

            In order to believe the “intruder” theories and have them connect with the actual/factual evidence in the case, you would have to come to accept a scenario that is ridiculous — which is exactly what happens when people try to stage a crime scene and provide false leads.

          • Helena Taylor

            It wasn’t an inside job. You should watch the program by Aphrodite Jones she explained it.

          • Andy

            I did watch it, and she didn’t effectively explain anything. The show uses, as a basis, investigators who were paid for by the Ramseys, and who continually provide factually incorrect information (ex. her head injury wasn’t sustained after she was dead, it was the initial injury). There isn’t even an effort to appear objective. The police DID investigate other leads, but there was no legitimate evidence to support the involvement of any outside suspects (aside from the Touch DNA evidence, which I already addressed). The criticisms of the police investigation of other suspects/theories are unfounded — leads cannot/should not be fabricated. The evidence dictates the course of investigation, and there is no evidence to suggest any suspects outside of the family. Again and again in the show, information that is presented as fact is factually incorrect, or a partial truth (ex. the ability of the perpetrator to move in an out of the home — the investigators did not say that it was impossible for someone to move in and out through the window, but they did say that certain preexisting elements, such as a spider web, would have been damaged in doing so; also, the boot print was not ruled out as being from the family, in fact, Burke did own a pair of Hi-Tec Boots, further, it would not have been unusual to find tracks on the floor of the basement; Aphrodite Jones appears shocked and incredulous as to “why this wasn’t entered into evidence” but it was). It is not an objective investigation in terms of evidence, and there is nothing compelling that is based in truth. The objective of the show is clearly to present the Ramseys as innocents, and unfortunately, in order to do this the Ramseys’ investigators have to present evidence that is factually incorrect and/or distorted.

            The investigation WAS flawed from the start, and a large part of that can be attributed to the fact that the Ramsey family fled the state the day after the body was found.

            So, I have seen the show and I’ve addressed just a few of the inaccuracies and obvious flaws therein. Now you should read Foreign Faction by James Kolar. It presents the case evidence that was collected through the course of the investigation. Even someone who is thoroughly biased (not saying you are, just in general) would be able to see the implications of the evidence. Further, it is possible to read the book without necessarily agreeing with Kolar’s “conclusions.” The Aphrodite Jones show does not offer this same opportunity.

          • Betsy Bachhuber Phariss

            Definitely going to read Foreign Faction. Thanks for suggesting this book.
            It would be neet to look at the Cummings child disappearance (from Florida), too. Another intriguing case. No body in that one.

          • Hos Estein

            Thank you for clearing that up. I didn’t know that the show I recently watched was so biased. Had me convinced of Burke’s innocence. I concluded that Burkes parents thought he did the deed and thus covered for him (silly note, fleeing etc.), although it was actually an intruder.

          • Tam L.

            Transfere evidence is called Locards principle

          • taffytoo

            I always wondered about the ransom note.It seems to me that fingerprints could have yielded something relative to the crime..

        • Tam L.

          No she wasn’t hung. I studied this case and had an assignment on it. She was strangled and a paintbrush was used to twist the string (looks like a shoelace) tighter. They also found foot print leading to a suitcase that was set directly under the basement window. So this person who killed her had to know the layout of the basement and knew where to get the paintbrush.

          • Betsy Bachhuber Phariss

            Paint brush used to twist string around the neck. The more I learn, the more childlike the killer seems. An adult probably would have used their hands to strangle. He/she would have been wearing gloves anyway.
            Intriguing case indeed.

          • Marsha Wolf

            Or it was an adult that didn’t want to leave hand or finger prints.

          • Tam L.

            A woman would have had a harder time strangling, so using the paint brush makes sense.

          • jlalewicz

            That’s the stupidest thing Ive ever heard. If you’d seen the knot itself you’d know that no child could have tied it and used the paintbrush in such a sophisticated way. Sometimes if your not very versed in a case, you probably shouldn’t comment. See, THIS is why I would NEVER allow a jury to decide my fate. I’d go for a trial by judge all the way. ESPECIALLY if I were innocent. An ignorant jury will hang you up so fast it’ll make your head spin.

      • Guyonthenet.

        She was not hung. Absolutely incorrect. She was strangled. Ligature marks were noted.

      • Kia_Ora World

        Wrong son…..(right family)

  • Marsha Wolf

    I totally agree with Lt. Joe. I think the Zodiac died.

    • Vonda

      Agree

    • mgkellam

      There was a theory for a while that the Texarkana Tx/AR Phantom Killer and the Zodiac were one in the same. They killed in a similar manner and both wore the cloth mask. Read up on the Phantom Killer, it’s weird.

  • Migdalia Torres

    I heard that after all these years the Parents of Jonbenet Ramsey were the Killers. I confession was given by her Mom, just before she passed away. Is this true??? We would love a follow up as to what really happen that night and why this case has been put to the side. No Justice at all for Jonbenet Ramsey. As if she didn’t exist!!

    • Marsha Wolf

      It don’t think that is true.

      • Migdalia Torres

        Still wondering if this is Fact or Fiction. No more Updates on the matter.

        • Marsha Wolf

          Personally, I always suspected the parents, as well. Especially because they refused to talk to police. I guess we’ll never know for sure.

          • Migdalia Torres

            I said the same thing. I think it was the Parents, but yet Wealth and Riches could buy anything. Hush, Hush Money on this Case. Well, that’s what I personally thing.

          • jlalewicz

            No they DIDN’T refuse to talk to the police. Jesus another uninformed individual. They talked to the police MANY times but stopped and hired an attorney when it became obvious the police weren’t looking for the little girls killer and only focusing on THEM. That’s what police do though. They will take suspects and try to build a case around THEM instead of looking elsewhere. The Ramseys did what anyone with any brains should have done.

          • Dumas911

            They didn’t talk to the police until AFTER they had went on tv and did an interview with a reporter.

  • Michele Mybelle

    We want nothing more than to find my sister Tara

    • jaime4brienne

      She hasn’t been forgotten. There is an Unsolved Mysteries forum on the sitcom boards website and her case has often been discussed there.

    • Gandi007

      Luke 8:17 King James Version (KJV)

      17 For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.

      While we may never see those who toke Tara brought to justice we’ll at least know what happened and finally closure can be brought to this case and your sister’s spirit can rest you’ll see her again

  • Kevin J. Kozlowski

    I am shocked to hear that according to Lt. Joe, the Ramsey case will never be solved. I thought recently there were new clues that were discovered. Being from Michigan, this case hits’ home since they moved here after the tragedy.

    • josette63

      i will never believe the parents were/are innocent. the thing that pisses me off is the fact that had this been a lo-income black family, those parents would have immediately been separated and brought to the police station and grilled. because they were affluent and white AND had a friendship with the D.A., they were allowed many, MANY months to come up with a bullshit lie. remember the note….the mother’s words to the T. “grow a brain” one of Mrs. Ramsey’s favorite expressions. done.

      • Dumas911

        If it had been ANY poor family, regardless of race!!

      • jlalewicz

        ANYONE is entitled to invoke their right to an attorney if they have sense enough to do it. I would NEVER talk to the police, ESPECIALLY if I were innocent! I would ask for legal assistance immediately. It is your right as a U.S. citizen yet the police would have you believe it is definitely a sign of guilt. Its a sign of intelligence is what it is. Yes even that theoretical BLACK COUPLE of yours is entitled to an attorney.

        • Dumas911

          They also did it! Or Burke did, and they covered it up. All because he was jealous of her attention, and I think she grabbed a piece of his pineapple/milk that night, he instinctively grabbed that flashlight and hit her. Not meaning to kill her, but just out of spite, and the parents covered it up. NOBODY came in or out that basement window or there wouldn’t have still been cobwebs across it.

  • brucejhammer

    !!!****Brelliant Quality Of performance ffeed… <..~~~.. Find Here

  • Shannon

    It’s hard to read that Lt. Kenda has no hope of the Ramsey case being solved, it’s upsetting. Guess those cops screwed up things even worse than what the public knows about

    • josette63

      it was a matter of the WHITE parents station in life that allowed this murder to go unsolved. had this been a poor black family….’nuff said.

      • Mike Sovocool

        What about Poor White Families, Poor Spanish Families, Poor Native American Families? Why interject one race when it happens to all poor races?

        • Dumas911

          They’re just another race baiter. Had nothing to do with the race, but everything to do with politics and money.

        • matt kemp

          Because Josette63 has big lips!

        • jlalewicz

          yea I’m rather tired of hearing about ONLY those “poor black families” myself.

      • matt kemp

        Josette63 You are stupid!

    • Dumas911

      Kenda acts like he wants to rip apart his former investigative colleague that went over the case, but is holding back out of friendship.

      What pisses me off is the grand jury voted to indite, but the prosecutor refused!

  • rain

    The brother was 11 please explain how he hung her up?

    • Annie Ruler

      And, the knot that an 11 year old would not know how to do?

      • Andy

        Jonbenet did not die by hanging. And there weren’t any difficult knots involved.

      • Dumas911

        The ligature marks around her neck was made using a makeshift garrot, that I believe Jon Ramsey did to cover up Burke hitting her with the flashlight (that perfectly matches the skull fracture). She wasn’t hanged.

    • Marion Prisk

      Read the book by lead detective.Kolar.
      The brother had mental issues and was very jealous of Jo Benet. He hit her with a flashlight..it cracked her skull. The parents covered it up. They got the grisly details from a book that they knew about that was written by a friend of the family. By faking the kidnapping that were able to completely contaminate the crime scene because of their affluence and the naivete of the Boulder police dept.

  • Helena Taylor

    You go Joe.

  • Sue Smith

    Regarding the Jonbenet Ramsey case; shame on ID for posting the headline that says Lt. Kenda could solve (or had a solution that would solve it). Lt. Kenda specifically said the case was so screwed ip by Boulder Police it would be difficult to impossible to solve so long after the fact. Such sensational headlines undermines the credibility of your website.

    • Migdalia Torres

      That seems to be true. Is anyone keeping up with this case?

  • lynda bates

    if joe cant find them no one can, he is my hero and always will be

  • Marion Prisk

    I watched the special on Jon benet recently and I find the father the most perplexing. He seems dissociated from the event. This is always a sign of guilt. He seemed more concerned
    about his grandaughter thinking bad
    Thoughts about him Jon Benets
    murder. Bizarre.