Thai Police: Karr Admits Killing Ramsey

Associated Press Writer
Thursday, August 17, 2006; 3:33 AM

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- A former schoolteacher has admitted to killing 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey and will face charges of murder, kidnapping and child sexual assault in Colorado, officials said Thursday.

John Mark Karr, 41, admitted to the killing after he was arrested at his downtown Bangkok apartment Wednesday night, Lt. Gen. Suwat Tumrongsiskul told The Associated Press.

Karr will be taken to Boulder, Colo., within the next week, where he will be charged with first degree murder, kidnapping and child sexual assault, Ann Hurst, Department of Homeland Security attache at the American Embassy in Bangkok, said at a news conference in Bangkok.

Karr, appearing ashen with an expressionless look on his face, also appeared briefly at the news conference but did not say anything.

Suwat said U.S. authorities informed Thai police on Aug. 11 that an arrest warrant had been issued for Karr on charges of premeditated murder. The warrant was sent to Thai police on Wednesday, the day he was picked up in Bangkok.

At the press conference, Suwat said that Karr insisted after his arrest that his crime was not first-degree murder. "He said it was second-degree murder. He said it was unintentional. He said he was in love with the child. She was a pageant queen," Suwat said.

The Thai officer quoted the suspect as saying he tried to kidnap JonBenet for a $118,000 ransom but that his plan went awry and he strangled her to death.

Hurst said Karr has been "very cooperative" with authorities and that he's shown a "variety of emotions." She said he has been a suspect "for a while" but wouldn't specify how long.

Suwat said Karr arrived in Bangkok on June 6 from Malaysia to look for a teaching job. It was not clear whether he had gotten a job, the police officer said.

Karr has been in Thailand four times over the past two years, police said.

Police said he was living in a dormitory-style hotel called The Blooms in a neighborhood of massage parlors and travel agents that cater to expatriate residents and offer sex tours.

The arrest was a surprise development in one of America's most lurid murder cases, which had left a cloud of suspicion over her family after years went by with no suspect arrested.

JonBenet was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family's home in Boulder in the U.S. state of Colorado on Dec. 26, 1996. Striking video images of the girl in child beauty pageants helped propel the case into one of the highest-profile mysteries in the United States.

Ramsey family attorney Lin Wood said the arrest vindicated JonBenet's parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, who had initially been suspected of being involved in the crime. Patsy Ramsey died of ovarian cancer June 24.

Karr was a teacher who once lived in Conyers, Ga., according to Wood. The attorney said the Ramseys gave police information about Karr before he was identified as a suspect.

Wood would not say how the Ramseys knew Karr. But JonBenet was born in Atlanta in 1990, and the Ramseys lived in the Atlanta suburb of Dunwoody, about 30 miles northeast of Conyers, for several years before moving to Colorado in 1991.

© 2006 The Associated Press