JonBenet Suspect Says Murder 'An Accident'

A man has confessed to the as-yet-unsolved 1996 murder of child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey. Former teacher John Mark Karr, arrested Wednesday in Thailand, said in a chaotic news conference that the murder was "an accident."

Charlie Brennan, a reporter for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, has covered the case from the beginning and talks about the Karr's confession with Alex Chadwick.

JonBenet Ramsey Case Resurfaces with Confession

A former schoolteacher confesses to being with the six-year-old child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey when she died. John Mark Karr, an American who has been staying in Thailand, is under arrest and expected to be returned to the U.S. to face charges in the 10-year-old case.

Copyright © 2006 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

One of the most sensational murder cases of the past decade took a dramatic turn yesterday. A former schoolteacher has confessed to killing the child beauty queen, JonBenet Ramsey. John Mark Karr is an American who has been staying in Thailand. Department of Homeland Security attaché Ann Hurst(ph) announced his arrest in Bangkok.

Ms. ANN HURST (Homeland Security Attaché): He has been charged by the State of Colorado for first-degree murder after deliberation, first-degree kidnapping, second-degree kidnapping, and sexual assault on a child.

MONTAGNE: JonBenet Ramsey was found beaten and strangled in her basement nearly 10 years ago. She was just six years old. When suspect John Mark Karr appeared before reporters and police in Bangkok this morning, he said he never meant to kill her.

(Soundbite of crowd noise)

Mr. JOHN MARK KARR: I loved JonBenet and she died accidentally.

Unidentified Woman: Are you an innocent man?

Mr. KARR: No.

MONTAGNE: John Mark Karr had worked as an elementary school teacher in the United States. Police say he was trying to get a teaching job in Bangkok. The family has already responded to the arrest. Pam Paugh is JonBenet's aunt.

Ms. PAM PAUGH (JonBenet Ramsey's Aunt): We're excited that this killer is finally going to be off the streets, but it's bittersweet in the fact that, for us as a family, it brings up every sad memory that we have of this entire ordeal.

MONTAGNE: JonBenet's parents came under suspicion immediately after their daughter's murder and stayed under suspicion fanned by the media for years. Photos and videos of JonBenet Ramsey dressed up for child beauty pageants appeared all over tabloids and on television. Her parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, had criticized police for botching the case, as they put it, and casting doubt on the family. But after hearing the news of Karr's arrest, John Ramsey thanked the Boulder County police.

Mr. JOHN RAMSEY (Father of JonBenet Ramsey): They have been professional. They have not discussed the case or information and have just done their job.

MONTAGNE: JonBenet's mother, Patsy Ramsey, died of ovarian cancer earlier this year. John and Patsy Ramsey knew that police were closing in on a suspect. Lin Wood, the family's lawyer, asked for patience and restraint as the case heats up again.

Mr. LIN WOOD (Ramsey Family Attorney): I know that if Patsy were here today that one of the first things she would say would be to make sure that no one did to this individual what was done to her and members of her family, and that is to not make accusations and not speculate, but to let his guilt or innocence be determined in a court of law.

MONTAGNE: John Mark Karr will be taken back to Boulder, Colorado within a week.

Copyright © 2006 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.