August 17, 2006

American arrested in Thailand in Ramsey murder

By Nopporn Wong-Anan

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai police said on Thursday they had
arrested an American in connection with the Christmas 1996
murder of JonBenet Ramsey, a child beauty queen whose grisly
death triggered a U.S. media frenzy.

They did not name the man, identified in U.S. media as
primary school teacher John Mark Karr, 41, but said he was
arrested in conjuction with FBI officers after being followed
for three weeks as he sought a job teaching English in Bangkok.

"We arrested him yesterday at an apartment not far from my
office after having followed him for 21 days," immigration
police chief Lieutenant General Suwat Tumroungsiskul told

"During the arrest, we were accompanied by American
officers. He has been in and out of Thailand a couple of times
and the arrest warrant was issued just a couple of days ago."

Karr 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 at the time the child's body was
found on December 26, 1996.

Suwat said he had arrived on his latest visit with a
working visa issued in the United States and was looking for a
job teaching English.

Suwat said he had revoked the Karr's visa, issued in the
United States and allowing him to work in Thailand, giving him
the status of a "person who could pose threat to the society"
under Thai law.

"People like him are dangerous. We have criminals from all
over the world running away from their home countries to look
for teaching jobs in Thailand," he said.


Thailand is well known for a thriving sex industry that
draws tens of thousands of Western sex tourists, including

JonBenet was found beaten and strangled in the basement of
her family home in Boulder, Colorado, where District Attorney
Mary Lacy said the man "was arrested following several months
of a focused and complex investigation."

KUSA-TV in Denver said Karr had confessed to elements of
the crime that were unknown to the general public.

At the time of JonBenet's murder, a note was left on a
staircase of the family home saying she had been kidnapped by a
"small foreign faction" who wanted $118,000 in ransom.

Both JonBenet's father, John, and mother, Patsy, came under
suspicion during the initial investigation and in 2002 they
reached an out-of-court cash settlement with a former
detective, who wrote a book accusing them of murdering their
own daughter.

Patsy Ramsey died of ovarian cancer in June, but the couple
had been kept in touch with the progress of the investigation
that led to Karr's arrest.

"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.

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 JonBenet
was killed, but the murder generated intense media coverage
drawn by JonBenet's success in youth beauty pageants, the
family's wealth and mysterious elements of the case, including
the note.

(Additional reporting by Keith Coffman in Boulder, Dan
Whitcomb in Los Angeles and Deborah Charles in Washington)