J.T.Colfax (Pg 288) in Perfect Murder, Perfect Town by Lawrence Schiller
The following is from the best selling book, Perfect Murder,
Perfect Town by Lawrence Schiller (Pages 288 through 291)
February 18, 1999:
James Thompson, known to this friends as J.T. Colfax,
worked for M&M Transport in Denver. His job was to pick
up cadavers and deliver them to funeral homes. On April 28,
he went to pick up a body from the morgue at Boulder
Community Hospital. The cadaver was having its eyes
removed for donation to an eye bank, and Colfax was told to
come back later.
At around 1:00 a.m., Colfax went back to the morgue, just to
hang out. On a whim, he leafed through the log book, came to
the month of December and tore out the pages with an entry
about JonBenet. Later that morning, he photocopied the log
pages, wrote "All in a night’s Work" on the copies, and
mailed them to friends in new York and California.
That afternoon, low on cash, colfax tried to shoplift a
photo-finishing order he had placed at Safeway Photo
Processing. He was arrested. The police looked at the
evidence, twenty seven photos and discovered that the
pictures were of cadavers. Colfax found himself in a police
car en route to the Denver PD. Which one those people had
he murdered, the cops wanted to know. None. Colfax said,
he just liked to photograph dead people. Did you murder
JonBenet Ramsey. No, he said, he had been in Vancouver,
Canada on December 26, at the Royal Hotel on Granville
Street. One officer shouted that he was a pervert.
Two days later Colfax made bail, was given a court date, and
became an item in the Denver papers. Mike O’Keeffe, a
reporter for the Rocky Mountain News, was told by a friend
of Colfax’s about the morgue log pages. O’Keeffe passed the
information on to his colleague. Charlie Brennan, who was
covering the Ramsey case,. Brennan in turn called the morgue
to inquire about the log pages, not mentioning Colfax’s name.
That afternoon, when the pages were discovered missing, the
sheriff was called. Until then, no one had noticed they were
Meanwhile Colfax, who was becoming a minor media
celebrity confessed to the press that he’d stolen some morgue
log paes containing JonBenet’s entry, as a souvenir. When the
Boulder police heard Colfax’s tale, they assigned Detective
Ron Gosage to pay him a visit.
It was raining when Gosage arrived at Colfax’s Denver
apartment. The log pages from the morgue were lying on the
floor. Within minutes he was arrested. On the way to Boulder,
Gosage chatted with Colfax. Out of the blue, Gosage asked,
"What do you think, are people born gay or do they become
gay?" The conversation was so casual it was like talking to
someone at a party. "I was born gay." Colfax replied,
"Nobody wants to be gay." Suddenly it occurred to Colfax
that homosexuality might have something to do with
JonBenet’s death. Gorage asked him if he knew JonBenet’s
brother, Burke. No, Colfax replied. What about Jon
Andrew? He didn’t know either of them, Colfax said.
Colfax understood he was a suspect. Later that afternoon he
was formally interviewed. The police asked him to describe
the morgue. It was orange, he said, no, it was governmental
green or gray, shit, he couldn’t remember the color. Then they
got around to JonBenet’s death. Did you know the Ramseys
in Boulder? In Denver? Colfax said he’d lived Atlanta but that
he didn’t know patsy Ramsey. Gosage grilled him for two
hours Then Colfax gave the detective the hair evidence he
Gosage cut his hand pulling hair samples from Colfax’s head.
While Colfax completed his handwriting samples, the
detective sat there wringing his hands while blood flowed from
between his fingers. Next, Colfax’s inner cheek was swabbed
for a DNA sample. Then he was booked for criminal mischief
and theft. Bond was set at $1,000.
Two months later, Colfax still had not been sentenced for
stealing the morgue log pages. He was out on bail. One
morning he visited Alli Krumpski at the offices of the Daily
Camera and told her she’d look good as a dead body. He’d
been drinking. Then he walked 2 miles to the Ramseys’
house. Along the way, two tourists stopped and asked him
where Patsy Ramsey lived. "I think it’s up here," he said,
motioning them to follow him. When they arrived, the tourists
took his picture in front of the house. The he walked down to
University Hill and tried to call Gosage through 911. Believing
that the police were after him, he wanted to meet the
detective. After he left the message, he walked back 6o the
Ramsey’s house. At around 11:30 p.m., he considered
breaking in and spending the night but then decided against it.
Better to write the Ramseys a note.
"If you hadn’t killed your fucking baby," Colfax wrote, "this
wouldn’t have happened." He stuffed the note and some
pages from a paperback book, Interview with a Vampire, into
the front door mail slot, took a matchbook, printed Gosage’s
name on it, and set fire to the paper. He watched it scorch the
inside wall from a nearby window, hoping that because it was
made of brick, the house wouldn’t burn down.
The next morning he called Gosage again. This time he
confessed to trying to burn down the Ramseys’ house, which
the police knew nothing about. Within an hour he was
arrested. Six months later on January 16, 1998, Colfax was
sentenced to twenty-four months’ probation for first-degree
arson, a class-three felony. For stealing the morgue log pages,
he was sentenced to two years in the county jail with no credit
for the seven months he had sat in jail after turning himself in
for the arson. By then, Lou Smit and Trip DeMuth had
interviewed him several times. Colfax’s alibi for December 26
checked out. "
"I grew up in Colorado. My father was a navy recruiter. I hated
school, probably because I was gay. I felt pretty isolated. Then I
finally met some artists, and we got to be friends. When I returned
from the military in ’87 I had my first sexual experience. Some
strangers say my art projects were off-the-wall. In ’94 after my
mother died, I wrote a letter a day for a year to four people in
Clarksburg, West Virginia. I listed each person’s name and phone
number on the other person’s letter so everyone would begin to
talk to each other. In the letters I told about getting drunk, buying
cocaine, and having sex with another guy. Then I did the same
thing in Blytheville, Arkansas. I just picked the cities at random.
They were all small towns. I’d lived in New York, San Antonio, Los
Angeles, Denver. The Associated Press, the Washington Post,
Newsday, and the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote stories about my
exploits. In Los Angeles I saw my first body. In MacArthur Park.
That’s when I got a job at a mortuary transportation service
picking up bodies. In Denver I made $13 a body, seven days a
week. It was a one-man job at hospitals and nursing homes. Two
men when the coroner called.
Soon I started photographing bodies
with funny signs attached to them. "Time’s up, Yee-ha." "Getting
fired isn’t the end of the world." "Happy Halloween." I never moved
a body in any particular way. Never sat them up. I just threw the
signs on them as they were laying there. It was art. Good art. I
included the photographs in my collages.
The morning after
JonBenet was killed I was crossing the Canadian border into the
United States. A week later I read about her in a Portland paper. I
was out of money so I called my father in Aurora and came home.
I found another job with a body transport company near boulder.
My boss seemed upset that he’d missed being selected to pick
up JonBenet’s body. "