Producer: Netflix's new JonBenet film used local crews, cast

Posted at 3:26 PM, Jan 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-20 17:26:15-05

DENVER – A local producer who worked on Netflix’s upcoming film about the JonBenet Ramsey case says viewers will see the infamous story told in a way they haven’t seen before.

Mitch Dickman spoke to Denver7 on his way to the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, where Casting JonBenet is making its debut.

Netflix hasn’t released many details about the film, but Dickman said it’s a “unique” approach to telling the story of the 6-year-old beauty queen’s death.

Dickman described the film as a hybrid of documentary and fiction formats, told from the perspective of people who are auditioning for roles in a fictional film about the case.

In a teaser trailer posted on YouTube, young girls audition for the role of JonBenet.

Netflix said Casting JonBenet aims to examine how the case and the multitude of theories surrounding it have affected generations of children and parents in the area.

Australia-based director Kitty Green and her crew traveled to Boulder to film some of the movie’s documentary portions in the summer of 2015. Dickman joined the project in early 2016.

It’s been 20 years since JonBenet Ramsey was found dead in the basement of her parents’ home. Dickman said some in the community questioned why the crew felt the need to bring it up, but he described the response as “largely supportive.”

The state film board, which provided incentives for the film, expressed some concerns about Colorado’s image, but Dickman said he was confident that Casting JonBenet would be produced in a way that was neither exploitative nor sensational.

Dickman said the film cast local residents and employed a large number of locals on its crew. Post-production work on the movie took place in Denver.

Following its premiere at Sundance, Casting JonBenet will debut in theaters and on Netflix in the spring.

Case history

JonBenet Ramsey was found dead in the basement of her parents' home in Boulder on Dec. 26, 1996. She was 6 years old. She died after she suffered a blow to her head, which broke her skull. She also suffered strangulation.

No arrests have been made in the case, but 20 years later Boulder police say the investigation continues.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation will test certain pieces of evidence in the unsolved murder, Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett told Denver7.

"DNA is a very rapidly-developing area of forensic investigation, and of course, it's important for us that any of the evidence in the Ramsey case, and in any case, is tested according to the most current and updated methods," Garnett said.

"I don’t anticipate there’s going to be any dramatic developments from this round of testing, but if the rest of the case comes together at some point, I want to be assured that we have state of the art DNA testing on everything in the case," Garnett told Denver7's Marc Stewart.

Garnett's office and Boulder Police Department investigators are working to decide which pieces should undergo the new, more sensitive testing that is now available. It's called YFiler Plus and it focuses on the Y chromosome.

The evidence likely being considered for the new testing is the duct tape found on JonBenet's mouth, the ligatures that were on her wrists, part of the garrote that strangled her and a flashlight, according to ABC News.

Garnett said while the additional DNA testing "might give us new information that could be helpful to the investigation, I don't expect that DNA test results alone will definitively solve or prove the case."

"To ever have a prosecutable case, we have to have several different pieces of evidence come together," Garnett said.

The last time any of the evidence was tested for DNA was the fall of 2008, when the wrist ligatures were sent to the CBI. The results were inconclusive.

Forensic pathologist Werner Spitz has accused JonBenet's brother, Burke, of killing his sister. Burke was 9 years old when his sister died. Burke is suing Spitz for defamation.

A Lifetime Television documentary pointed the finger at JonBenet's mother, Patsy Ramsey. Patsy died in 2006 from ovarian cancer.

In October 2013, Denver7 learned that the grand jury that investigated the murder case in 1999 voted to indict JonBenet's parents on charges of child abuse resulting in death and accessory to a crime. However, the indictment was not accepted by then-District Attorney Alex Hunter because he said he didn't think he could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the parents were guilty.

Read more about the case here.


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