Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sunday, August 20, 2006

DNA test for teacher who says he killed JonBenet


Catherine Elsworth and Andrew Drummond Bangkok


August 20, 2006


THE suspect in the killing of child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey is
expected to be extradited to America today despite growing speculation
over his confession to Thai authorities and the likelihood that only DNA
testing will prove whether he committed the crime.


John Mark Karr, 41, a teacher and child-care assistant, allegedly
told Thai officials that he drugged, raped and accidentally killed
six-year-old JonBenet in the basement of her family home in Boulder,
Colorado, 10 years ago.


Once extradited to Colorado, Karr is likely to face charges of murder, kidnapping and child sexual assault.


But speculation has grown that rather than being the killer, the
husband of two teenage brides who was once arrested for possession of
child pornography could merely be obsessed with the case.


Karr was seized in an apartment in Bangkok on Wednesday after a US
judge issued a warrant for his arrest. Hours later, before a roomful of
journalists, he said: 'I was with JonBenet when she died. Her death was
an accident.'


But some experts have said that without corroborating evidence, such
as DNA, the confession appeared unlikely to secure a conviction.


DNA that came from a Caucasian white male was found beneath the
girl's fingernails and on her clothing. Authorities have never said
whether the DNA matched anyone on an FBI database.


A DNA mouth swab was taken from Karr in Bangkok. The results are
unknown. He will be given another test when he is handed over to
prosecutors.


'DNA is the big ticket, the 600-pound gorilla in this case,' former
Denver prosecutor Craig Silverman told the Rocky Mountain News.


'If his DNA doesn't match, that's a huge problem for the prosecution.
If it's a match, then it's game, set and match for the state.'


Karr's ex-wife, Lara Knutson, whom he married when she was 16, said
Karr was with her and their three children in Alabama during the
Christmas holiday period in 1996 when JonBenet was killed.


The post-mortem examination showed no evidence of drugs in the girl's
system and there was no conclusion about whether she was raped.


Examples of Karr's handwriting are also being examined to see if he
wrote the ransom note demanding $118,000 left in the Ramsey home.


The email correspondence that led to Karr's arrest reveals an
obsession with the Ramsey case. In a series of messages Karr sent to
Michael Tracey, a British academic in Colorado who produced three
documentaries about the Ramsey murder, the suspect says he was 'in love'
with JonBenet.


In one message, sent on December 23 last year, Karr asked Professor
Tracey to visit JonBenet's old house in Boulder and recite a poem.


It read: '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.'


Professor Tracey contacted authorities in May.



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