Eight women and four men convened regularly over 13 months. They heard from dozens of witnesses, considered 30,000 pieces of evidence. All of it was with one question in mind: Who was responsible for 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey's death?
On October 13, 1999 -- nearly three years after the diminutive Colorado pageant queen's body was found in her home -- the 12 grand jurors went back to their own homes, sworn to silence and with nothing apparently to show for their effort.
"We do not have sufficient evidence to warrant the filing of charges," then-Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter said.
The presumption was that the grand jury hadn't voted to indict anyone. That included failing to take action against JonBenet's parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, whom Boulder police had said were under "an umbrella of suspicion" in the girl's death.
Yet the Boulder Daily Camera, the daily newspaper in that Colorado city, now says there was more to the story. Citing several unidentified jurors as well as an assistant district attorney in Hunter's office, the paper reports that the grand jury did, in fact, vote to indict the Ramsey parents on charges of child abuse resulting in death.
Hunter, the man who presented the case to them, didn't sign the indictment, however, the Daily Camera reports.
It's a decision that Bill Wise, a former prosecutor who wasn't directly involved in the grand jury proceedings, confirmed to the paper and said makes sense.
"The state of the evidence in that case was simply inadequate to file a charge in my opinion, and that obviously was Hunter's opinion, too," Wise said. "Whether it's against one or two people, you just didn't have the evidence."
Those now in the Boulder County District Attorney's Office aren't commenting on the report, spokeswoman Catherine Olguin said Monday.
But Lin Wood, the Atlanta lawyer for John Ramsey, said, "I have known for years that Boulder prosecutors did not file charges against John and Patsy Ramsey because the evidence to prosecute them did not exist."
He said Monday that any reported "confusion of the grand jury over child abuse" could have been addressed had the Ramsey parents testified, as they repeatedly offered to do. Wood also pointed to the 2008 findings from then-District Attorney Mary Lacy that, citing DNA tests, ruled out any Ramsey family member's involvement in the girl's death.
"The DNA tests performed after the time of the Boulder grand jury not only prove the Ramsey family to be innocent and the grand jury wrong, they also make former District Attorney Alex Hunter a hero who wisely avoided a gross miscarriage of justice," Wood told CNN.
Mom: 'There's a killer on the loose'
It was December 26, 1996 -- a day after JonBenet got a bicycle as a Christmas gift -- when Patsy Ramsey said she discovered a three-page ransom in her Boulder home. Police came and, later that day, found JonBenet's beaten and strangled body in the family's basement.
Days after burying the girl in suburban Atlanta, where they had previously lived,the Ramseys appeared on CNN.
"There's a killer on the loose," Patsy Ramsey said January 1, 1997, in an interview that brought an intense national spotlight on the case.
"I don't know who it is. I don't know if it's a she or a he, but if I were a resident of Boulder, I would tell my friends to keep your babies close to you. There's someone out there."
The parents insisted an intruder committed the crime, but no one was caught and no description was given.
In time, the focus turned on the parents: Could they have done it?
Investigators didn't find footprints in the snow outside the home, there was no sign of forced entry. A paintbrush from her mother's hobby kit was used to tighten the rope that choked JonBenet. And the alleged ransom note was written from paper inside the house and referenced little-known details about the family's past and its finances.