August 23, 2006

Comments by JonBenet suspect fuel skepticism

By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Schoolteacher John Mark Karr,
suspected of killing child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey 10
years ago, awaited extradition to Colorado on Wednesday as
newly reported comments by him fueled doubts over his claims of
involvement in the notorious unsolved crime.

Los Angeles Sheriff's officials said Karr, 41, would not be
leaving for Colorado on Wednesday. They declined to say when he
would be turned over to authorities in the town where the
six-year-old was found strangled in the basement of her home on
December 26, 1996.

Prosecutors in Boulder have disclosed none of their
evidence against Karr, whose surprise arrest in Thailand last
week provoked a U.S. media frenzy.

A tent city of camera crews and reporters has sprung up in
the small college town for his arrival there, despite officials
insisting Karr "will not be paraded" to public view.

While in Thailand, Karr professed his love for JonBenet and
told journalists he was with her when she died but described
her death as "an accident." She was found with a fractured
skull and had been strangled with a garrote.

DNA evidence, found in JonBenet's underwear and under her
fingernails, is likely to prove crucial to the case.

But People Magazine on Wednesday quoted Karr as telling
Thai authorities while in their custody; "The DNA might not
match, but you can't trust the test."

Karr reportedly told the unnamed Thai officials he was
alone when JonBenet was killed. Asked whether her death was
brutal, he replied; "It's not what that seemed to be."

Defense lawyers have told reporters Karr is anxious to get
to Colorado and get his legal process started. He is wanted
there on five counts of murder, kidnapping and sexual assault
on a child but has not been formally charged.

Several media outlets have asked a Boulder County judge to
unseal his arrest warrant, saying there was great public
interest in whether Karr's arrest was "yet another mistake."

Karr, who has a previous conviction for possessing child
pornography, has been obsessed by the JonBenet case for several
years, according to acquaintances.

But an ex-wife has said that on the night of JonBenet's
murder Karr was at home with her and their children in Alabama.

According to People, Karr dismissed the alibi, telling Thai
officials: "It's normal that people in a family protect you."

The house in Boulder where JonBenet died appears unoccupied
but has been attracting the attention of curious passers-by and

JonBenet's family moved to Michigan after the murder and
her mother, Patsy, died in June of ovarian cancer.

(Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Boulder)