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New reports could link Karr to JonBenet

A day after his claims were questioned, reports suggest the suspect knew details about the death that had been kept private.

Published August 19, 2006

BOULDER, Colo. - As John Mark Karr waited in a Thailand jail on Friday to be returned to the United States to face charges in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case, new reports surfaced that could, in fact, link the former schoolteacher to the death of the 6-year-old beauty queen.

Karr, 41, on Thursday told reporters that he was with JonBenet when she died but that her death was an accident.

Inconsistencies in Karr's story had led legal experts to question his claims - including whether he sexually assaulted the girl or was in Colorado at the time of the slaying.

However, CNN, citing an anonymous U.S. law enforcement source, on Friday reported that Karr gave authorities graphic details about the condition of JonBenet's body that have never been publicly revealed.

Those details were known only to the medical examiner and the investigators investigating the child's death, the law enforcement official said.

Some of the details Karr shared were gruesome - and they were accurate, the source said.

Karr is expected to face charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and child sexual assault when he returns to the United States. JonBenet's body was found Dec. 26, 1996, in the basement of her family's Boulder, Colo., home. She died from a severe skull fracture and strangulation, according to an autopsy report.

Also Friday, an attorney for Karr's ex-wife, Lara Knutson, said that she continues to maintain that Karr was with her the night JonBenet was murdered and that she is searching for photos or documents to prove it.

"She's got homework to do; she's going to go through old records, photographs, home movies - anything she has from that time period to show that (Karr) was with his family that Christmas," attorney Michael Rains said. "It's been 10 years, but you would think she'd remember if her husband wasn't around on Christmas."

The Rocky Mountain News also reported Friday that Boulder prosecutors were in contact with a former Hamilton, Ala., classmate of Karr's because a yearbook signed by him more than 20 years ago could reveal why the ransom note left for the Ramseys was signed "S.B.T.C."

In the 1982 yearbook, Karr ended his missive with the line, "Though, deep in the future, maybe I shall be the conqueror and live in multiple peace," raising the question of whether S.B.T.C means "shall be the conqueror." The words "shall be the conqueror" do not appear anywhere as an acronym, but they are written in uppercase characters.

Also Friday, a Thailand police official backed off some details he had given of Karr's story - details that raised suspicions about whether Karr was just a wanna-be trying to insert himself into a high-profile case.

Lt. Gen. Suwat Tumrongsiskul of the Thai immigration police initially quoted Karr as saying he had sexually assaulted the girl and given her drugs, even though the autopsy showed no drugs in the girl's body. He also told reporters before a news conference that Karr had claimed to have picked up JonBenet at her school, though her death came during the holiday break.

On Friday, Suwat confirmed to the Associated Press his account of the sexual assault. But asked if Karr gave the girl drugs, Suwat said the suspect described the encounter with JonBenet 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 his statement about the girl being picked from school was based on a documentary he had seen and not the interrogation.

The Rocky Mountain News also published excerpts of e-mails that Karr sent to University of Colorado journalism professor Michael Tracey, who had produced several documentaries on the Ramsey case.

In an e-mail Karr reportedly sent on Dec. 23, 2005, just before the anniversary of her death, he wrote: "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."

The e-mail asked Tracey to visit the Ramseys' former home in Boulder and read aloud the ode he called "JonBenet, My Love."

"Sometimes little girls are closer to me than with their parents or any other person in their lives. When I refer to myself as JonBenet's Closest, maybe now you understand," he wrote in an another message.

In another e-mail, the newspaper reported, Karr said he sympathized with pop music star 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."

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

Karr, a divorced father of three who was once detained on charges of possessing child pornography, once lived in an Atlanta suburb near where the Ramsey family lived before moving to Boulder.

There is no known evidence tying Karr to Colorado. Eric Yoder, an investigator for the Colorado Department of Education, said Karr was never licensed to teach in the state and there is no record of him applying for a teaching job.

In other developments Friday, the Associated Press reported that only weeks before she died, police had asked JonBenet's mother if she would meet with Karr.

Patsy Ramsey was willing, but she died from ovarian cancer in June before investigators went any further, family attorney Lin Wood said Friday. Wood said Karr had exchanged e-mails with someone he thought was Patsy Ramsey, but the e-mails were being intercepted by authorities.

"He thought that he was corresponding with Patsy, but he wasn't," Wood said.

Police in Roswell, Ga., where Ramsey spent the last days of her life, declined to say if they conducted the correspondence ruse.

In another development, guards at San Quentin State Prison on Friday searched the death row cell of convicted killer Richard Allen Davis after learning he may have corresponded with Karr, authorities said.

Officials said they found no letters from Karr, however.

Davis, 52, was sentenced to death for the 1993 kidnapping and murder of 12-year-old Polly Klaas. The girl was from Petaluma, Calif., where Karr lived from 2000 to 2001, when he was charged with misdemeanor possession of child pornography.

Lt. Eric Messick said officials decided to search Davis' cell after learning that Karr had told detectives in 2001 that he had a letter from Davis and was researching a book on him.

"Our reasoning was that if there was evidence of them having this relationship, then it might shed some light on things - it wasn't a far reach," he said. "But I don't think we've found anything so far suggesting there was a nexus between Davis, Karr and JonBenet Ramsey.

In Washington, federal law enforcement officials said Karr's comments since his arrest have piqued their interest and they want to question him. Regarding Karr's purported claims in e-mails that he was under federal investigation for child murder and molestation, the Associated Press reported that there was no federal case in which Karr is wanted or even suspected, citing a federal official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is being handled by local prosecutors in Colorado.

Patsy Ramsey's sister said her family was remaining patient.

"We are optimistic, but it's wait-and-see," Pamela Paugh said. "We've been patient for 9½ years; what's a few more months?"


[Last modified August 19, 2006, 01:08:33]

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