Police: Suspect in JonBenet case denies involvement in 1996 slaying

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The suspect, John Mark Karr, was a teacher who once lived in Conyers, Ga.

BANGKOK, Thailand -- An American suspect arrested in connection with the death of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey denied any connection to her murder when he was detained at his downtown Bangkok apartment Wednesday, police said.

The suspect was identified as John Mark Karr, according to Lt. Gen. Suwat Tumrongsiskul, who heads the country's immigration police. Karr denied involvement in the slayings, another police official said.

Karr's visa has been revoked because he was regarded as an "undesirable person" since he is accused of a crime in the United States, Suwat said.

Federal officials in the United States, speaking on condition of anonymity, also identified the suspect as Karr, a 42-year-old American, and said he was being held in Bangkok on unrelated sex charges.

But Thai police said he had not committed any crime in Thailand.

Suwat said he expected American officials to take the suspect back to the United States in the next few days.

The arrest was a surprise breakthrough in one of America's most lurid murder cases -- a decade-old crime some feared would never be solved.

JonBenet was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family's home in Boulder, Colo., on Dec. 26, 1996.

"When we informed him that he has been accused of committing a crime at home he denied all accusations. It is normal for a suspect to deny the charges," said a senior police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The suspect, who has been in Thailand four times over the past two years, was being detained by immigration police pending arrival of U.S. officials, the police said.

Suwat said Thai police investigated the suspect and made the arrest at the request of U.S. officials.

The district attorney in Boulder, Mary Lacy, said the arrest followed several months of work. She would not disclose any details about the suspect, but the Ramsey family's attorney in Atlanta said the man was a schoolteacher who once lived in nearby Conyers, Ga.

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