August 21, 2006

JonBenet suspect arrives in US

By Kemp Powers

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The American schoolteacher
suspected of murdering child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey
arrived on Sunday night in the United States, where he will
face questioning about the 1996 killing.

John Mark Karr, 41, landed in Los Angeles at around 9:30
p.m. after traveling for 15 hours in business class from
Bangkok, Thailand, with U.S. law enforcement officials.

"He was treated like a VIP," said Sanjay Chowdhury, a
passenger who sat in front of Karr aboard the Thai Airways
flight. "He was actually quiet. He was talking to the guy next
to him, who was a U.S. Marshal."

Another passenger, Kathryn Sorrells, said Karr was calm and
relaxed during the flight.

U.S. officials accompanying Karr turned him over to Los
Angeles police, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said
in a statement.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said it would
detain him for up to 48 hours pending an extradition hearing
before he would be sent to Boulder, Colorado, where the murder

Karr was arrested in Bangkok on Wednesday on suspicion of
first-degree murder, kidnapping and child sexual assault. He
told reporters he had been with the 6-year-old when she died at
Christmas a decade ago but that her death was an accident.

Wearing a short-sleeved red shirt and dark tie, Karr looked
composed but nervous when he arrived at the Bangkok airport
escorted by Thai police. He did not answer questions fired by
the crowd of journalists who thronged around him.

In Los Angeles, he was led off the plane outside the view
of the media.

It was not clear exactly when he would be flown on to
Colorado, where investigators were waiting to question him.
Karr said last week he loved JonBenet and answered "no" when
asked whether he was innocent.

Some of his statements were at odds with details of the
crime, leading some to believe he may not have been involved in
JonBenet's murder.

The arrest was a surprise development in a case that has
drawn intense media coverage focusing on JonBenet's success in
child beauty pageants, her family's wealth and mysterious
details of the murder, including the bizarre ransom note.

JonBenet was found December 26, 1996, in the basement of
her home in Boulder, strangled with a garrote made from a stick
and cord and her skull fractured.

Her father discovered her body hours after the girl's
mother stumbled on three-page letter claiming she had been
kidnapped for a $118,000 ransom.

(Additional reporting by Prapan Chankaew in Bangkok and Dan
Whitcomb in Los Angeles)