IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Lawyer: JonBenet mom was asked to meet Karr

Authorities Thursday cautioned against rushing to judge the schoolteacher who made a stunning confession that he killed JonBenet Ramsey. Experts point to holes in the man’s story.
US teacher John Mark Karr (C) makes his
U.S. teacher John Mark Karr confessed Thursday to killing 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey a decade ago in Colorado. He said her death was unintentional. Saeed Khan / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: The Associated Press

Authorities asked Patsy Ramsey in late May — a month before she died of cancer — whether she would be willing to meet with the man who claims he killed her 6-year-old daughter, the Ramsey family’s attorney said Friday.

Ramsey said she would meet with John Mark Karr if it would advance the investigation into JonBenet Ramsey’s Christmastime 1996 slaying, but the meeting never took place because authorities did not get back to her before she died in June, attorney Lin Wood said.

The attorney also said the written correspondence Karr sent to Patsy Ramsey either in the form of e-mails or letters was never received by her because it was routed to someone else. He said police or someone else set up an address for the correspondence to be sent to make it look like he was writing to Ramsey. It was turned over to the police instead.

“He thought that he was corresponding with Patsy, but he wasn’t,” Wood told The Associated Press.

A spokesman for the Roswell, Ga., Police Department, which helped to identify and locate Karr, declined to say Friday whether his agency conducted the correspondence ruse.

“We’re not commenting on any part of the investigation,” Sgt. James McGee said.

Karr, 41, was arrested in Bangkok, Thailand, this week in a surprise twist in one of the nation’s most lurid unsolved slayings. The former teacher told the AP he “was with JonBenet when she died. Her death was an accident.”

Questions about confession
Legal experts had questioned some of Karr’s claims — including whether he sexually assaulted the girl or was even in Colorado at the time of the slaying.

“It’s clear to me that he’s somewhat interested or maybe even obsessed by the case and the real question is whether he’s inserting himself into it for some obscure psychological reason,” said author Carlton Smith, who wrote 1997’s “Death of a Little Princess: The Tragic Story of the Murder of JonBenet Ramsey.”

District Attorney Mary Lacy refused to say whether authorities have evidence linking Karr to JonBenet’s death at her Boulder home on Dec. 26, 1996.

“We should all heed the poignant advice of John Ramsey,” said Lacy, quoting the girl’s father. “Do not jump to conclusions, do not rush to judgment, do not speculate. Let the justice system take its course.”

Karr’s ex-wife, Lara Knutson, told reporters she cannot defend him, then insisted he was with her in Alabama that Christmas.

“She cannot think of a Christmas while they were together when he was away from the family on Christmas day or immediately thereafter,” said her attorney, Michael Rains, though he added she could not specifically recall Christmas 1996.

But Wood suggested that authorities may have something more against Karr, noting that a number of people had confessed over the years but none had been arrested.

“There have been e-mail confessions in the case before,” Wood said. “John Ramsey has received e-mail confessions in the past and nobody was arrested.”

Authorities have not said whether Karr could have written the ransom note demanding $118,000 found in the Ramsey home. And the professor who swapped four years’ worth of e-mails with Karr and brought him to the attention of prosecutors in May refused to characterize the suspect either as killer or kook.

“I don’t know that he’s guilty,” said Michael Tracey, who teaches journalism at the University of Colorado. “Obviously, I went to the district attorney for a reason, but let him have his day in court and let JonBenet have her day in court and let’s see how it plays out.”

Note proclaims, ‘JonBenet, my love’
Correspondence obtained by the Rocky Mountain News between Tracey and a person investigators believe to be Karr included one message in which the professor was asked to visit JonBenet’s home in Boulder to read aloud an ode called “JonBenet, My Love.”

“JonBenet, my love, my life. I love you and shall forever love you. I pray that you can hear my voice calling out to you from my darkness — this darkness that now separates us,” read one of the e-mails, which the newspaper said Friday it obtained from a source close to the investigation.

It said the message was part of a small sample of correspondence between Karr and Tracey. In other e-mails, Karr said he was under federal investigation for “child murder and child molestation” in four states.

In Washington, federal law enforcement officials said Karr’s comments since his arrest have piqued their interest and they want to question him. Regarding Kerr’s purported claims in emails that he was under federal investigation for child murder and molestation, one law enforcement official said “there is no four-state federal case” in which Karr is wanted or even suspected. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is being handled by local prosecutors in Colorado.

‘Peer group’
In another e-mail, the Rocky Mountain News reported, Karr said he sympathized with Michael Jackson, who has been accused of molesting young boys.

“I will tell you that I can understand people like Michael Jackson and feel sympathy when he suffers as he has,” Karr wrote.

“I can relate very well to children and the way they think and feel,” one Karr e-mail said. “I think you are asking if I am much a ’Peter Pan.’ In many ways, the answer is yes. In other ways, I suppose it is no because I am trapped in a world that does not understand.”

In one correspondence, Tracey asked whether Karr’s “fascination with little girls — which clearly has a strong erotic component — is a way of going back.”

“Maybe I am not going back but have simply stayed consistent,” Karr responded. “My peer group has not changed since I was a little boy, and girls were the people I was with always. Referring to them as a peer group is somewhat incorrect, but might also be the very definition of what they continue to be in my life.”

Tracey refused to discuss the e-mails with reporters on Thursday and declined comment for the newspaper story.

More DNA tests planned
Legal experts said DNA evidence will likely be key to the case: DNA was found beneath JonBenet’s fingernails and inside her underwear, and authorities have never said whether it matches anyone in an FBI database.

Karr was given a mouth-swab DNA test in Bangkok, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation. The results of that test were not known. Karr will be given another DNA test when he returns to the United States in the next several days, the official said.

Karr began teaching at Bangkok Christian College, an elite private school with about 5,500 male students in 12 grades, in early June, school officials said. He worked there for about two weeks before being dismissed.

“John Karr came to us with a good resume and with credentials, but then we allowed him a trial (period) with students, we found he was too strict,” said Banchong Chompowong, assistant director of the English immersion program at Bangkok Christian.

Banchong said Karr gave the students “time outs” and another teacher said he had a reputation for yelling at students.

Official backtracks on claims
Lt. Gen. Suwat Tumrongsiskul of the Thai immigration police changed some details Friday of the account he had given of what Karr told investigators. In a telephone interview Thursday with The Associated Press, Suwat quoted Karr as saying he had sexually assaulted the girl and given her drugs. He also told reporters before a news conference that day Karr had claimed to have picked up JonBenet at her school, though her 1996 death came during the holiday break.

On Friday, Suwat confirmed to the AP his account of the sexual assault. But asked if Karr gave the girl drugs, Suwat said the suspect described the encounter with JonBenet Ramsey as “a blur.”

“It may have been drugs, or it may have been something else because (Karr said) it was a blur, blur,” Suwat said.

Suwat also said Friday that his statement about the girl being picked from school was based on a documentary he had seen and not the interrogation.

JonBenet’s autopsy report found no evidence of drugs, saying her death was caused by strangulation after a beating that included a fractured skull. While it describes vaginal injuries, it makes no conclusions about whether she was raped. Investigators later concluded there was no semen on JonBenet’s body.

Suwat said Karr wants to return to the United States to fight the case. He said U.S. authorities were preparing documents and plane tickets for the return journey. The departure could take place at any time, he said.