August 17, 2006

American arrested in Thailand in JonBenet Ramsey case

By Keith Coffman

BOULDER, Colo. (Reuters) - An American elementary school
teacher was arrested in Thailand on Wednesday in the 1996
murder of JonBenet Ramsey, a decade after the child beauty
queen's grisly death at her parent's Colorado home triggered a
media frenzy that transfixed much of America.

The suspect was not named by authorities but U.S. media
identified him as 41-year-old John Mark Karr, a second-grade

He was traveling in Thailand and "was arrested following
several months of a focused and complex investigation," Boulder
County District Attorney Mary Lacy said in a statement.

Karr was taken into custody in Bangkok and KUSA-TV in
Denver said he had confessed to elements of the crime that were
unknown to the general public.

He was expected to be returned within days to the United
States, which has an extradition treaty with Thailand.

MSNBC said Karr had lived in Boulder, Colorado at the time
of the December 26, 1996, murder of 6-year-old JonBenet, whose
body was found in the basement of the family home. She had been
beaten and strangled.


A note was left on a staircase saying JonBenet had been
kidnapped by a "small foreign faction" who wanted $118,000 in

Both her father, John, and mother, Patsy, were consulted
during the course of the investigation that led to Karr's
arrest. Patsy Ramsey died of ovarian cancer in June.

"So Patsy was aware that authorities were close to making
an arrest in the case and had she lived to see this day, would
no doubt have been as pleased as I am with today's development
almost 10 years after our daughter's murder," John Ramsey said
in a statement.

Ramsey told KUSA that to the best of his knowledge he was
not acquainted with the suspect.

No charges were ever filed in the 10 years since the little
girl's murder, but her parents came under what the Boulder
police called an "umbrella of suspicion."

The killing drew intense media coverage focusing on
JonBenet's success in child beauty pageants, the family's
affluence and mysterious elements of the case, which also
spawned several books and a television movie.

Although the Ramseys insisted an intruder must have
murdered their daughter and a grand jury investigation in 1999
failed to bring any indictments, a cloud of suspicion hung over
family for years.

The authorities later admitted the police had seriously
compromised the investigation through a series of blunders,
including their treatment of the crime scene and the handling
of evidence.

Ramsey family lawyer Lin Wood told MSNBC in a telephone
interview the Ramseys had been vindicated when they were not
indicted by the grand jury in 1999 and by a federal judge's
ruling in 2003 that evidence from the crime scene showed an
intruder must have murdered JonBenet.

"John and Patsy lived their lives knowing they were
innocent, trying to raise a son despite the furor around them.
... The story of this family is a story of courage and, at the
same time, a story of an American injustice and tragedy," he

(Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and
Deborah Charles and Joanne Allen in Washington)