August 28, 2006

JonBenet case against Karr dropped

By Dan Whitcomb

BOULDER, Colo. (Reuters) - John Mark Karr, the
schoolteacher who made worldwide headlines by confessing to one
of America's most notorious unsolved crimes, the murder of
6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, was abruptly dropped as a suspect
on Monday after the case against him collapsed.

Prosecutors dismissed the arrest warrant against Karr just
hours before he was due for his first Colorado court appearance
in the 10-year-old case after DNA tests failed to link him to
the girl's body.

The hearing in JonBenet's hometown of Boulder was canceled
but Karr, 41, was taken back to jail because authorities in
Northern California asked that he be sent there to face child
pornography charges.

Karr's claims that he was with JonBenet when she died had
been greeted with growing skepticism and prosecutors said in
legal papers that, without a DNA match, they had no evidence
against him other than his "repeated insistence" that he
committed the crime.

JonBenet's body was found in the basement of her Boulder
home on December 26, 1996. She had been strangled to death, her
skull fractured and mouth duct-taped. Forensic evidence
suggests she had been sexually assaulted.

The DNA taken from JonBenet's underwear, which was found to
be the saliva of a white male mixed with her blood, has never
been matched to a suspect in the murder -- a crime that has
baffled police and fascinated Americans for nearly a decade.

JonBenet's parents, who were once said by authorities to be
under an "umbrella of suspicion" in their daughter's death,
were also excluded from having left the DNA.


The collapse of the case against Karr sent the mysterious
unsolved murder back to square one and District Attorney Mary
Lacy -- who had him arrested in Thailand nearly two weeks ago
and extradited to Colorado based largely on suspicious e-mails
he had sent to Colorado University journalism professor Michael
Tracey -- quickly came under fire.

Karr's lawyer, Seth Temin, said he was "deeply distressed"
that his client had been arrested and extradited to Colorado on
so little evidence and Karr's family members also expressed

Lacy could not be reached for comment but explained in
court papers Karr, using the pseudonym "Daxis" told Tracey in
his e-mails that he "accidentally" killed JonBenet while
asphyxiating her during sex, then delivered a severe blow to
her head.

She said her office moved quickly to arrest Karr in Bangkok
because he had begun to "express sexual interest in specific
young girls" at the school in Thailand where he had recently
been hired.

"Until Mr. Karr was identified there was no way to try to
confirm or disprove his admissions related to causing the death
of JonBenet Ramsey," she said. "Until he was detained, there
was great risk that he might disappear if he became aware that
people from his past were being interviewed about his

After his arrest, Karr publicly repeated his claims to have
loved JonBenet and assertions that she died by accident. But
members of his family have insisted he was out of state at the
time of JonBenet's murder and could not have been involved.

JonBenet's father, John Ramsey, found the girl's battered
body about seven hours after her mother stumbled on a bizarre
letter claiming that she had been kidnapped and demanding
$118,000 ransom.

The Ramsey family has since moved away from Boulder and her
mother, Patsy, died in June of ovarian cancer.

The house where the former Little Miss Colorado died stands