- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 17, 2006

BOULDER, Colo. — Investigators arrested a suspect in Thailand yesterday in the JonBenet Ramsey slaying nearly a decade after the 6-year-old girl was found strangled in her home and well after many had given up hope that the case would ever be solved.

The suspect was identified by Ramsey family attorney Lin Wood as John Mark Karr, a 41-year-old former elementary-school teacher.

U.S. authorities said he confessed to the crime after he was arrested in Bangkok on an unrelated sexual-assault charge, adding that he knew certain details about the crime that had not been released publicly.

A Boulder County investigator was expected to fly Mr. Karr to Colorado in the next day or so. He was assisted in the arrest by agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Thai police.

Boulder County District Attorney Mary Lacy is scheduled to hold a press conference about the arrest at 2 p.m. today. One law-enforcement official told the Associated Press that Boulder police had tracked Mr. Karr down online.

The arrest is the first in one of the most widely publicized murder cases in U.S. history. The Boulder County District Attorney’s Office said the confession came after “several months of a focused and complex investigation.”

Patsy Ramsey, JonBenet’s mother, had been told that authorities were closing in on a suspect before her death of ovarian cancer on June 24, according to a statement released yesterday by her husband, John Ramsey.

“Patsy was aware that authorities were close to making an arrest in the case, and had she lived to see this day, would no doubt have been as pleased as I am with today’s development almost 10 years after our daughter’s murder,” Mr. Ramsey said.

“Words cannot adequately express my gratitude for the efforts of Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy and the members of her investigative team,” he said.

Mr. Wood claimed vindication for his clients after years of vilification.

“John and Patsy lived their lives knowing they were innocent, trying to raise a son despite the furor around them,” Mr. Wood told a press conference in Georgia. “The story of this family is a story of courage, and a story of an American injustice and tragedy that ultimately people will have to look back on and hopefully learn from.”

Thai police said Mr. Karr was arrested at his apartment in downtown Bangkok at the request of U.S. officials and was being held until they arrived. Lt. Gen. Suwat Tumrongsiskul said that he was unaware of any criminal charges pending against Mr. Karr in Thailand and that he expected U.S. officials to take Mr. Karr back to America in the next few days.

Mr. Wood also said the Ramseys gave police information about Mr. Karr. Although he would not say how the Ramseys knew him, he did say Mr. Karr had lived in the Atlanta suburb of Conyers. JonBenet was born in Atlanta in 1990, and the Ramseys lived in the Atlanta suburb of Dunwoody for several years before moving to Colorado in 1991.

The Ramseys moved back to the Atlanta area after their daughter’s slaying.

The Ramseys became the primary suspects in their daughter’s killing soon after her body was found the day after Christmas 1996 in a room off the family’s basement. She had been bound, gagged and strangled.

Boulder police quickly zeroed in on the Ramseys, primarily because JonBenet’s body was found at home in a hidden room. Only her parents and 9-year-old brother, Burke, were at home that evening.

Mrs. Ramsey called police early the next morning after finding JonBenet missing and a three-page ransom note demanding $118,000 for her return. Boulder police approached the case as a kidnapping until Mr. Ramsey found his daughter’s body during a search of the house a few hours later.

Shortly thereafter, the Boulder police chief said the Ramseys were “under an umbrella of suspicion.” They vehemently proclaimed their innocence and urged the police to look into whether JonBenet had been killed by an intruder.

The case was soon front-page international news, largely because it had elements other slayings didn’t. For one, the Ramseys were millionaires living a seemingly charmed life until JonBenet’s death. Then there was JonBenet, a strikingly beautiful girl who had won a number of child-beauty pageants.

Her pageant career was apparently driven by her mother, a former Miss West Virginia. JonBenet had also been extensively photographed by professionals, and those photos frequently made their way to the front page of national tabloids.

In 1999, after a three-year investigation, a Boulder grand jury declined to indict the Ramseys for lack of evidence, and the case appeared to go cold.

Mr. Wood also blamed the press coverage in part for the investigation’s length and difficulties.

“I think the public’s mind was so poisoned against this family that no one was able for too many years to look at the evidence,” the lawyer said.

• Jerry Seper contributed to this article, which was based in part on wire-service reports.

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