AP: Professor Recalls Leading Cops to Karr

The Associated Press
Tuesday, August 29, 2006; 4:13 AM

DENVER -- Michael Tracey says he could barely stand to listen as John Mark Karr described in graphic detail how he supposedly had sex with JonBenet Ramsey and then accidentally killed her.

"It was just horrible," the University of Colorado journalism professor told The Associated Press. "I cannot get the image out of my head."

Investigators say e-mail correspondence and phone calls between Karr and Tracey over four years _ and specifically in the past several months _ are what prompted them to bring Karr to Boulder from Thailand and jail him on a murder warrant.

The case went out the window Monday after DNA tests ruled out Karr as a suspect in the 1996 slaying.

Tracey, who has produced three documentaries on the Ramsey case, said Karr's claims simply could not be ignored.

"It was a situation where you didn't quite know, but you had to err in that direction" of taking Karr seriously, said Tracey, who added that Karr first contacted him about four years ago because of the documentaries.

"Was I certain? No, I couldn't claim to be certain," he said. But as a father, Tracey said, he felt he had an obligation to alert authorities.

Karr's claims about 6-year-old JonBenet were so detailed that investigators decided it was "crucial" to test his DNA to try to confirm his account, Boulder County District Attorney Mary Lacy said Monday in court papers.

Tracey said one phone conversation, when Karr went into explicit and chilling detail about JonBenet's death, was almost too revolting to endure.

An investigator who monitored the conversation said Karr described undressing the girl, kissing her, asphyxiating her and performing sex acts on her, according to court documents.

"I had to pretend it was OK, and that was horrible," Tracey said. "I had to role-play, and I couldn't let my emotions interfere in any way. I'll be honest, after that phone call _ the account lasted about three hours _ I lost it."

Tracey said he has been attacked as a publicity hound by people calling for his dismissal from the university, but he said he never sought attention and never leaked any details to the media. He said he tried only to do the right thing.

"The people attacking me haven't a clue what he was like. Not a clue," he said.

Tracey hopes to return to work on a book detailing his view that an intruder killed JonBenet, who was found strangled and beaten in the Boulder home of her parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, in December 1996. Patsy Ramsey died of cancer in June.

"A lot of people want to believe the Ramseys are guilty, but I don't believe it," he said.

Tracey hopes the debunking of Karr's claims does not bring the investigation to a standstill.

"I hope the investigation continues because if it isn't Karr, it's someone else, in my view," he said. "And JonBenet is still very dead, John Ramsey is still under siege, and both those things are very wrong."

© 2006 The Associated Press