As JonBenet arrest fizzles, killer still unknown
By Dan Whitcomb
BOULDER, Colo. (Reuters) – Two weeks after the stunning
arrest of John Mark Karr for the long-unsolved murder of
6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey, Colorado prosecutors
on Tuesday tried to explain how the case fell apart and were
left wondering if they would ever find her killer.
Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy, who came under
withering criticism after abruptly dropping Karr as a suspect
on Monday, defended her handling of the arrest and said her
office was misled by the schoolteacher’s apparently delusional
The prosecutor said it was now clear that Karr, 41, could
not have killed JonBenet, leaving police without a suspect in
one of America’s most notorious unsolved crimes. The girl was
found strangled to death in the basement of her Boulder home on
December 26, 1996.
“John Karr himself sincerely believes he killed JonBenet
Ramsey so I have no sympathy for him,” Lacy said. “Because he
believed it himself and continues to believe it his (account of
the crime) had all of the emotional impact that you would
expect (from the killer).”
Lacy conceded that when Karr was apprehended in Bangkok on
August 16, triggering a media frenzy, she had no evidence
against him aside from his bizarre e-mails to a college
professor — but said she had to act because he was considered
an imminent threat to a 5-year-old girl there.
“He was expressing feelings toward this child in the same
way that he was expressing feelings toward the dead child
(JonBenet),” Lacy said, adding that her office tried but failed
to keep the arrest secret from reporters.
Answering pundits who said authorities should have obtained
Karr’s DNA before extraditing him from Thailand, Lacy said that
her investigators had surreptitiously retrieved a sample while
he was under surveillance but were told by their forensic
experts that it was not clean enough.
Police have never matched DNA found in JonBenet’s
underwear, thought to be a mix of her blood and the saliva of a
white male, to any suspect in the case. Members of the Ramsey
family have been eliminated as having left the DNA.
Karr’s detailed confession included an explanation of why
his saliva might have been found mixed with the girl’s blood in
her underwear, which prosecutors said lent credibility to his
Investigators could not determine his whereabouts at the
time of the murder, although he was living in Alabama.
Former Denver prosecutor Craig Silverman called Lacy’s
explanations “damage control” that wouldn’t wash.
“Her claim that she needed a pristine DNA sample makes no
sense,” he said. “She went from the penthouse to the doghouse
with this DNA report.”
Colorado Gov. Bill Owens has also slammed Lacy, saying she
should be held accountable for what amounted to “the most
extravagant and expensive DNA test in Colorado history.”
Lacy said she was still frustrated and “baffled” that
JonBenet’s killer eluded capture despite the thousands of hours
of investigation poured into the case, which has been covered
exhaustively by the media for 10 years.
JonBenet was discovered about seven hours after her mother
came across a letter claiming she had been kidnapped and
demanding $118,000 in ransom. She had been strangled with a
homemade garrote, her skull fractured and her mouth duct-taped.
The Ramsey family moved away from Boulder after the murder
and her mother, Patsy, died of cancer in June. The house where
the former Little Miss Colorado died stands empty.
(Additional reporting by Keith Coffman)