Accused Sex Offender Arrested In JonBenet Ramsey Case

Man Apprehended In Thailand

Authorities confirmed Wednesday that a U.S. citizen has been arrested in Thailand in connection with the unsolved 1996 slaying of JonBenet Ramsey.

Sources close to the investigation, speaking on condition of anonymity, told 7News that John Mark Karr, 42, was arrested Wednesday morning at 6 a.m. (MDT) in Bangkok, where he was being held on unrelated sex charges. Boulder, Colo., District Attorney Mary Lacy confirmed the arrest to 7News, which she called the result of a "focused and complex investigation," but did not confirm details about the suspect.

Karr was arrested in Thailand on an outstanding warrant issued by Sonoma County, Calif., charging him with possession of child pornography, 7News reported.

7News also reported that Karr taught as a substitute elementary-school teacher in the Petaluma, Calif., School District from December 2000 to April 2001.

The Boulder school system checked records dating back to 1980 and found no record of Karr working there however, 7News reported.

Law enforcement officials from Boulder were flying to Bangkok to present Thai authorities with documents in the slaying of the 6-year-old beauty pageant contestant, officials in Washington said.

In a telephone statement delivered from his Denver office to KMGH-TV, attorney Hal Haddon confirmed the arrest.

"The diligent investigation of JonBenet Ramsey's murder by Boulder D.A. Lacey and detectives working with her has been extraordinary," Haddon told the station. "It is hoped this arrest will bring some closure to the Ramsey family after a 10-year ordeal. We respect the legal process and will have no further comment until the legal process is concluded."

Ramsey attorney L. Lin Wood said the Ramseys gave police information about Karr before he was identified as a suspect in their daughter's slaying.

Wood would not say how the Ramseys knew Karr. But 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. Karr is originally from Conyers, Ga.

Wood said Karr confessed to elements of the crime. A law enforcement source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told 7News that Karr had been communicating periodically with somebody in Boulder who had been following the case and cooperating with law enforcement officials.

Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy said the arrest followed several months of work, but she said no further details would be released until Thursday.

The District Attorney's Office said they would hold a news conference Thursday morning regarding the arrest. TheDenverChannel.com will livestream the news conference.

In her statement, Lacy said the suspect was arrested on Wednesday morning. She also said that JonBenet's father, John Ramsey, was aware of the arrest and had been briefed throughout the investigation.

John Ramsey quickly issued a statement about the arrest, which said in part:

"The investigation of the individual arrested today in connection with JonBenet's death was discussed with Patsy and me by the Boulder district attorneys office prior to Patsy's death in June. So 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. Words cannot adequately express my gratitude for the efforts of Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy and the members of her investigative team."

Karr was being brought back to the United States and was expected within the next several days.

Boulder police did not immediately comment on the case.

JonBenet's battered body was discovered in the basement of her parents' Boulder home on Dec. 26, 1996. She had apparently been killed while her parents and brother slept upstairs. Her death has remained unsolved for almost 10 years.

Patsy Ramsey, JonBenet's mother, died in June of ovarian cancer. John Ramsey said in a public statement Wednesday that his wife knew authorities "were close to making an arrest" before she died.

John and Patsy Ramsey had been eyed by investigators in the case from early on. But Wood said the couple lived their lives knowing they were innocent, raising their son despite the furor around them.

Patsy Ramsey always maintained that she found a ransom note on a back staircase demanding $118,000 for her daughter's return. John Ramsey said he discovered the body in the basement eight hours later.

A grand jury investigated the case but returned with no indictments. In December 2003, after investigators obtained a new DNA sample, a federal judge in Atlanta concluded that the evidence suggested an intruder killed JonBenet.

The unsolved death spurred a host of amateur sleuths trying to solve the case.

Lawrence Schiller, author of the 1999 book "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town" about the case, said Wednesday he understood the man had been on a list of sexual offenders who were suspects for a long time.

"There are a lot of facts about her actual death that the public does not know." Schiller said. "If he did confess to some facts of the murder, to reveal those facts of the case, that would finish the puzzle."

Among the facts he said were not generally known was the murder weapon and what the killer did with it.

DNA was found beneath JonBenet's fingernails and inside her underwear, but Wood said two years ago that detectives were unable to match it to anyone in an FBI database. It was not immediately known Wednesday whether investigators had any DNA evidence against Karr.

Bob Grant, a former Adams County district attorney who worked on the case, said there was never enough evidence to convince him that any potential suspect could be successfully prosecuted.

"I wasn't convinced it was an inside job, nor was I convinced it was an outside job," he said. "All the outside suspects were cleared after exhaustive investigation, and there were a whole lot of outside suspects."

JonBenet and Patsy are both buried in Cobb County, Ga.

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