The Star on the Starr Report

A summary of what's been in the tabloids.
Sept. 11 1998 3:30 AM

The Star on the Starr Report

And other tabloid news about Diana and JonBenet.

The tabloids hit a macabre trifecta this month with extensive reports on three of their major stories: the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, the death of Princess Diana, and the dead duck presidency of Bill Clinton.

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Who killed JonBenet, the 6-year-old beauty queen, has been an obsession of the tabs since her father found her body in the basement of their Boulder, Colo., mansion in December 1996. The coverage of the investigation has been like the course of a long, fatal illness, with many remissions and recurrences. But this week, at least, the tabs indicate the end may be near. Each of the three weeklies touts different "bombshell" allegations that tie the girl's parents to her death.

Emily Yoffe Emily Yoffe
Emily Yoffe writes the Keeping Tabs column for Slate. You can e-mail the author at eyoffe@hotmail.com.

JonBenet's wealthy father, John Ramsey, wasn't as surprised by the discovery of his daughter's body as you might suspect, says the National Enquirer, citing grand jury testimony by the Ramseys' former friend Fleet White. According to the publication, White looked in the basement for the supposedly kidnapped girl but, unable to locate a light switch, he couldn't see anything in one of the pitch-dark, windowless rooms. Later, the Enquirer says he testified, Ramsey started screaming at the entrance to that room before he flicked on the switch, leading White to believe Ramsey already knew his daughter's body was there. The Enquirer also says Ramsey tried to convince authorities that an intruder had entered the house by lifting a grate outside the basement. But, the Enquirer reports, analysis by arachnologist Brent Opell of a spider web covering the grate indicates it had been undisturbed for at least a month prior to JonBenet's death. Oh, what a tangled web we weave.

A pair of beaver skin boots could implicate JonBenet's mother, Patsy, declares the Star. Referring to "top-secret police files," the publication says that a strand of animal fur was found on the duct tape used to cover the murdered girl's mouth. Police suspect it will match the boots Patsy was wearing the night of the murder. Also, three weeks after the murder, a bookkeeper at a Boulder hardware store notified police that a man named John had called wanting copies of receipts for purchases charged by Patsy Ramsey. Police believe the duct tape was bought at the store, but the receipt listed only prices, not specific items. Also, John and Patsy told police that they had put their daughter to bed after Christmas dinner and never seen her alive again. But an autopsy revealed that at midnight JonBenet had a snack of pineapple--fingerprints on a kitchen bowl indicate she and her mother and brother ate together--and that she died around two hours later.

The Globe touts an "exclusive" from a "tipster" who claims that in the hours after JonBenet was discovered, John Ramsey gave away a box--supposedly of the girl's personal items--so they wouldn't "get ruined during the investigation." The Globe claims that the box actually contains the sheets and several stuffed animals that were on her bed the night of her murder, as well as the nightgown she was wearing. An informed source told the Globe the allegations are "totally misinformed" and "completely inaccurate."

On the anniversary of Diana's death, the tabs exhume their theories about the nefarious reasons her life was cut short. The Star floats what could be called the Anne Boleyn theory--that is, the British government had Diana murdered. Their evidence doesn't quite rise to the level where it could be characterized as preposterous. Here it goes: The drunken driver of the car in which Diana died, Henri Paul, had more than $200,000 in the bank, although he earned only $30,000 a year. This indicates to the Star that he was an informer for British intelligence. Richard Tomlinson, an ex-employee of MI6 who was jailed last year for trying to sell his memoirs, asserts that only the British would pay a Frenchman that well. "French intelligence would never pay him that amount of money," says Tomlinson. Aside from the issue of pay scales on either side of the Channel, even if Paul was an informer, the Star doesn't grapple with why MI6 would want Diana dead. Like Boleyn, she may have been an incompliant consort, but by then she was a former one.

Into the breach steps the Enquirer, whose theory is that the car accident was the result of a kidnapping gone wrong. British intelligence didn't want to kill Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Al Fayed, it simply wanted to scare them apart because, asserts Islamic scholar Yaqub Zaki, "the idea of the future King of England, Prince William, having a Muslim stepfather was intolerable. And the idea of a half-brother or half-sister with brown skin was unthinkable."

If there was a murder plot, the Globe may have unwittingly ended up pointing the finger at a really big fish. In this week's issue the publication reports that shortly before she died, Diana "told pals she was planning to remarry the prince!" Now, if this were true, there is certainly one person who would want to make sure such an event never came to pass. Or to put it another way, does anyone really know where Queen Elizabeth was the night of Diana's death?

The tabs are filled with royal news this month. Most disturbing is a report in the Globe that Prince Charles might be suffering from Alzheimer's disease. The publication says royal insiders are worried about an apparent decline in Charles' short-term memory and say the prince has turned to a specialist for help. Helping Charles' sons deal with their grief over their mother's death is former nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke. Although Diana "despised" her for calling the boys "my babies" (according to the Enquirer), a royal insider says, "If Di's looking down from heaven, I'm sure she's forgiven her." And love has found an ex-member of the British royal family. According the Enquirer Sarah Ferguson is "head over heels" over Italian Count Gaddo della Gherardesca. As the Enquirer says, nobody would begrudge Fergie a little happiness, but how much more euphonious it would be if Tiggy Legge-Bourke had coupled with Gaddo della Gherardesca. Finally an item in the Globe wins this month's "When Hell Freezes Over" award. According to the publication, Frank Sinatra's widow, Barbara, has set her sights on Grace Kelly's widower, Prince Rainier of Monaco. Reports the Globe: "Now pals say it's only a matter of time before Barbara's mourning is over and she flies off to Monaco and a new life with Rainier."

Stuck in his old life is our commander in chief, and the tabs take notably different approaches to his predicament. Last week the Enquirer delivered when it said it found out the "shocking truth behind the Zippergate scandal." And what is this new, depraved revelation?