- The Washington Times - Friday, August 18, 2006

BOULDER, Colo.— John Mark Karr could arrive in the United States from Thailand as early as today as skepticism continues to mount about his confession to the 1996 slaying of JonBenet Ramsey.

Thai police Lt. Gen. Suwat Thamrongsrisakul told the Bangkok newspaper the Nation that Karr’s airline ticket had been readied for him to be deported and that he is scheduled to arrive in the United States today.

Karr, a 41-year-old schoolteacher, signed a document indicating that he planned to fight the case against him.

He could have plenty of help. As details about Karr continued to surface, analysts voiced more doubts about the validity of his confession, pointing to inconsistencies in his story and raising the possibility that he could be an obsessive JonBenet follower trying to interject himself in the case.

“Either this is the first big break in the case or the first major hoax,” Denver criminal defense attorney Scott Robinson said. “My take is that this is a case of mere obsession, not true confession.”

Karr, who is wanted in Sonoma County, Calif., on child-pornography charges, has a long history of inappropriate behavior toward children. He has been fired from at least two elementary-school teaching jobs for making strange comments and acting oddly in the classroom.

But while Karr has an extensive history of pedophilia, including two marriages to 13- and 16-year-old girls, he has no known criminal history of violence.

“I think Karr is obsessive, delusional and fascinated with young children,” said James Cohen, a professor at Fordham University Law School.

“He becomes fixated with JonBenet. He’s very deeply into the case, and he sinks deeper into this obsession. He convinces himself on some level that he’s responsible for this, either as her protector or someone who loved her,” Mr. Cohen said.

JonBenet was found bound, gagged and strangled Dec. 26, 1996, in a room off her family’s basement. Her parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, initially thought she had been kidnapped after discovering a ransom note in the kitchen early that morning.

Boulder police had suspected the parents in the slaying, but no arrests were ever made in the case until Tuesday, when Karr was arrested in Bangkok at his apartment. He has not been charged.

Lara Knutson, Karr’s ex-wife, has said that he was with her and their three children celebrating the holidays in Alabama when JonBenet was killed. She is now searching her belongings for photos and other evidence that will place him there, not at the crime scene in Boulder, said her attorney, Michael Rains.

She is expected to be interviewed soon by Boulder authorities, he said.

“She wants to tell the truth. If that helps authorities in a prosecution of this man, fine. If it doesn’t, that’s fine, too. She doesn’t have a vested interest one way or the other at this time,” Mr. Rains told television reporters outside Ms. Knutson’s home in Petaluma, Calif.

Some inconsistencies in Karr’s story may have been the fault of Thai authorities. Gen Thamrongsrisakul, who recounted Karr’s confession to police to the press, said he was mistaken about some details, including an anecdote about Karr picking up JonBenet from school the day she was killed.

He also said he wasn’t sure whether Karr said he had given JonBenet drugs before having sex with her, saying the suspect described the assault as “a blur.”

An autopsy performed on JonBenet’s body found no evidence of drugs and concluded that she had not been raped.

Karr also is said to have provided details about the case that have never been publicly released. Skeptics argued that his knowledge was the result of his obsession with the case, noting that he even wrote a paper about it in college.

He also wrote letters to Mrs. Ramsey before her death in June, which were routed to the police. A four-year e-mail exchange with University of Colorado professor Michael Tracey included declarations of his love for JonBenet.

A high school friend of Karr’s produced a yearbook that could provide a link to the ransom note found at JonBenet’s home. The note concluded with, “Victory! S.B.T.C.!”

Authorities have never figured out the meaning of the acronym, but the friend produced a yearbook that Karr signed as follows: “Though, deep in the future, maybe I shall be the conqueror and live in multiple peace.”

The first initials of the words “shall be the conqueror” are written in uppercase, according to the Rocky Mountain News.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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