A private investigator who has been probing the JonBenet Ramsey murder case for two decades has identified a new suspect in the famous unsolved crime.
Ollie Gray, who was originally hired by the victim's parents but now investigates the case for free, told the Today show on May 6 that a man named Michael Helgoth could have been JonBenet's killer, the Daily Mail reports.
"The latest development in this particular case as far as I'm concerned is Michael Helgoth," Gray said. "He was basically a hellraiser."
Helgoth was 26 at the time of the 6-year-old beauty queen's death in 1996. Her body was found bludgeoned and strangled in Boulder, Colorado.
According to Gray, Helgoth tape-recorded a confession before committing suicide months after the murder. Gray said the confession is now in the hands of Helgoth's family and friends.
Helgoth was reportedly considered a suspect early on in the investigation but died before police could question him. Gray said that investigators did not look at Helgoth soon enough.
"You have to look for something in order to find something, and unfortunately for this particular case you got a totally inexperienced police agency," he said.
Gray does not think that Helgoth acted alone, however. He said he believes the 26-year-old was one of several people involved in JonBenet's murder.
"I think there was more than one or two people involved," he said.
"Based on what we know now, I believe Helgoth and his accomplices committed the crime," Gray told InTouch magazine in April, according to the Daily Mail. "There's no doubt about it."
One of Helgoth's former coworkers, John Kenady, has lent support to Gray's theory, saying the taped confession, in which Helgoth admits to killing Ramsey, does in fact exist.
"I will never forget, we were walking toward his house and [Helgoth] said, 'I wonder what it would be like to crack a human skull.,'" Kenday said. "I was amazed. I thought it was a very odd thing to say."
Gray said that Kenady contacted police close to 20 times shortly after the murder but that they neglected to return his calls. He believes that if they had listened to Kenady they would have solved the murder.
"I got the distinct feeling that the Boulder police had absolutely no interest in anything that took away from the theory that John and Patsy Ramsey killed their daughter," Gray said.
John and Patsy were the primary suspects in their daughter's slaying for years, after it was reported that Patsy's handwriting was similar to the handwriting in the ransom note. The two were officially excluded as suspects in 2008, two years after Patsy's death.
In spite of everything, Gray is confident that the case can still be solved.
Kenady does not believe that Helgoth actually committed suicide. Rather, he said Helgoth was murdered by his accomplices.
"The gun was found on Helgoth's right side, but the bullet hole goes from left to right. It doesn't make sense why someone would commit suicide in that manner," Kenady said, adding, "He was murdered to keep his mouth shut."
"If they could find out who killed Helgoth," Gray said, "it could lead police to his accomplices in her murder."
Helgoth was cleared of any suspicion in 1999, because none of his DNA was found under JonBenet's fingernails or in her underwear.
Charlie Brennan, a Daily News reporter who still covers JonBenet's murder, told the Today show that the incident remains "the most heinous crime that has occurred in the Boulder area for the 30 plus years that I've lived here."