In Touch (USA) - - Cover story -


Oliva had long kept in touch with an old high school pal, Michael, by ex­chang­ing funny cas­sette tapes. But sud­denly, the tapes get “darker, more de­praved, and sicker; it would turn my stom­ach,” says Michael. In one, Oliva sim­u­lates rap­ing a lit­tle girl he’s babysit­ting.


After do­ing prison time for sex­u­ally as­sault­ing a 7-year-old girl he was babysit­ting in Ore­gon, Oliva breaks pro­ba­tion by try­ing to stran­gle his mother. “I should have killed you a long time ago,” he tells her, then ad­mits to cops that he thought “the world would be a bet­ter place” with­out her.


Jonbenét is mur­dered at her home down the street from St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, where Oliva, then home­less, spent time. Days later, he al­legedly calls Michael and con­fesses that he’s hurt a child. “He was sob­bing like you’ve never heard a grown man sob in your life. I knew this was very se­ri­ous,” says Michael, adding that he called cops about Oliva, but they didn’t fol­low up.


He’s spot­ted at­tend­ing a can­dle­light vigil (be­low) out­side her house on the an­niver­sary of her death. “Jonbenét’s mur­der touched me very deeply,” he says. “I feel she was an ex­cep­tional girl whose death was an ex­cep­tional loss.”


Po­lice search Oliva’s back­pack dur­ing a drug and tres­pass­ing ar­rest and find a stun gun, a pic­ture of the slain beauty queen and a poem en­ti­tled “Ode to Jonbenét.” “I felt the need to build a mon­u­ment, a shrine, to re­mem­ber this lit­tle girl,” ex­plains Oliva, who is finally ques­tioned by cops about the mur­der.


In a jail­house in­ter­view, Oliva in­sists to 48 Hours that he’d never used a stun gun on a child and he didn’t kill Jonbenét, but that he be­came ob­sessed with her after she died: “I be­lieve she was a ge­nius at the age of 6.”


Act­ing on a tip sent from Google to the Na­tional Cen­ter for Miss­ing and Ex­ploited Chil­dren, Boul­der cops ar­rest Oliva — who is home­less — less than four miles from the scene of Jonbenét’s death. He’s charged with pos­sess­ing more than 20 ex­plicit images of child porn, mostly de­pict­ing girls around 4 to 7 years old.

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