Below are documented some of John Eller's actions and behaviours while he was head of the detective division investigating the murder of JonBenet
HE DID NOT COME TO THE CRIME SCENE OR TO POLICE HEADQUARTERS IMMEDIATELY UPON BEING TOLD OF THE KIDNAPPING
On the very first day of the murder, 8:10 am on December 26, Sergeant Bob Whitson, the on-duty supervisor called Eller at his home and told him about the reported kidnapping. Eller said he couldn't come in to headquarters because, according to him, he had sick relatives staying with him and needed to stay home. Detective Sergeant Larry Mason as the next in the chain of command, was to serve as acting commander that morning.
HE GAVE ORDERS THAT ACCORDING TO EXPERIENCED INVESTIGATORS COMPROMISED THE CRIME SCENE
Mason arrived at police headquarters after being paged at 9:45am where he met with FBI agent Ron Walker. They were both dismayed to learn that officers had not secured the house. At that point Mason wanted to put the parents up in separate rooms and interview them separately. First, he called Eller who must have ordered him not do this because it was never done. Mason and Walker later learned that Eller had given orders to other officers that the Ramseys be treated as victims, not suspects, to treat them with kid gloves as they were wealthy and influential. Mason realised that this this must have affected the behavior of all the officers at the scene and probably was the reason why so many people had been allowed to enter and stay in the house.
HE ORDERED THAT ALL OFFICERS AND DETECTIVES ATTEND MEETING AT POLICE HEADQUARTERS LEAVING NONE AVAILABLE TO ASSIST LINDA ARNDT AT THE CRIME SCENE
At 10:15 am the first of several calls for immediate assistance came in from Linda Arndt, the detective who had been paged early that morning at her home and sent to the Ramsey house where she had been since 8:10 am. Sh was now the lone police officer present, the others having been recalled to a meeting at police headquarters that had been scheduled for 10:30 am, presumably under Eller's orders.
When Arndt paged Larry Mason she told him she needed detective backup urgently. She was now supposed to be controlling nine civilians, all of whom were in emotional distress in a fifteen-room, three-story house. In spite of this obviously impossible task, backup was never sent. We don’t know why. It seems that Eller’s meeting required that all police officers, detectives and FBI agents were required to attend and the meeting’s agenda must have been so vital that not even one of them could be spared to assist Arndt.
HE REFUSED TO USE THE TRACKER DOG THAT WAS OFFERED BY A LOCAL SHERIFF’S OFFICE
Towards the end of the meeting, or possibly immediately after it, Larry Mason suggested to Eller that they get tracking dogs. If this was an abduction, the kidnapper might still be close by—in a canyon or in the Chautauqua Park area. A tracking dog, Yogi had been made ready by the sheriff’s office in the city of Aurora. The dog was a bloodhound that in 1993 had backtracked nine miles to the base of Deer Creek Canyon and helped find the body of a kidnapped five-year-old girl. Eller ridiculed Mason's suggestion and the dog was never made use of.
ONCE THE BODY HAD BEEN FOUND HE IMMEDIATELY GOT RID OF THE FBI
When Mason returned to police headquarters at mid-afternoon, he found John Eller upset that the FBI was still involved in the case. Eller told Mason the Bureau was no longer needed. Mason had been a police officer for twenty-five years, and he knew how helpful the Bureau could be. Agent Ron Walker hoped the Boulder police would do the job progressively and methodically. He also hoped they would ask for help from the FBI or the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, which had both the experience and the resources for a case like this. But John Eller felt differently and turned the FBI away that very afternoon. This obviously bothered both Detective Larry Mason and FBI agent Ron Walker.
HE WAS ATTEMPTING TO GATHER ONLY A MINIMAL AMOUNT OF EVIDENCE
The deputy DA Trip DeMuth arrived at the house in mid-afternoon the day of the murder and was soon troubled by the reluctance of the police to consider his advice on the preservation of evidence. After 1.5 hours, the police had announced they were almost ready to release the house as a crime scene. DeMuth was appalled as were others in the DA’s office when they received the information.
That night after JonBenet's body had been wheeled out of the residence and after a cursory search of the house and the collection of a few items of evidence, Eller was preparing to turn the house back over to the family. Pete Hofstrom who had overseen 23 murder cases in Boulder County in his time as chief of the felony division at the DA's office, confronted Eller about his decision. Eller made it clear to Hofstrom that he wanted the DA’s office to get out of the crime-scene-analysis business. It was his call to make, Eller said, and if he said the police were finished at the Ramsey house, then they were finished. Hofstrom, who at the time, considered the Ramseys prime suspects, determined put a stop to this action by Eller bluntly explained to him how much work still had to be done at the crime scene. The officers and technicians hadn’t even scratched the surface, he said. Hofstrom wanted the entire house fingerprinted, shoeprint impressions taken, hair and fibers collected, drainpipes ripped out, floorboards removed. He wanted every drawer, every closet, every nook and cranny searched. The evidence, Hofstrom insisted, must be in a form that could be properly presented in court when the time came.
Hofstrom got his way and only after eight more days of searching and evidence collection, with help from the CBI and the Boulder County Sheriff's Department, the house was handed back over to Ramseys.
HE GOT RID OF HIS ONLY DETECTIVE WITH HOMICIDE EXPERIENCE ON TRUMPED UP CHARGES THE FIRST CHANCE HE GOT
Eller assigned thirty officers to the case. Detective Larry Mason, the only detective with Boulder Police with any experience in homicide investigations led the team in day-to-day field assignments. Almost immediately there were problems between the two. In early January Eller accused Mason of leaking to CNN the fact that the Ramseys had agreed to an interview with the Boulder police. This was information Eller said he had personally given to Mason on the phone when Mason was at the Roswell, Georgia, police department the night before. It was, said Eller, information that nobody else knew. Mason denied the charge. He said he had not released any unauthorized information.
“You’re lying,” Eller said. “I know for a fact you did.” “I’m not lying,” Mason shot back. “You’re absolutely wrong.” The next day, Monday, January 6, Bryan Morgan, one of John Ramsey’s attorneys, told Eller that someone within his own office had disclosed the information to CNN. Despite this information, and though Eller had information that could have caused him to believe he had wrongly accused Mason—and though news of Mason’s suspension had not yet been released to the media—he did not change course.