Questions raised over JonBenet murder confession

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The Independent US

The breakthrough arrest of a suspect in the long-unsolved murder of six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey started to look distinctly shaky yesterday, as legal experts and former investigators in the case poked holes in the confession of expatriate schoolteacher John Mark Karr and even Colorado prosecutors said they were proceeding cautiously.

Mr Karr was arrested in Thailand on Wednesday and was quickly paraded before reporters, claiming he was with JonBenet when she died in the basement of her family home in Boulder in 1996 and that her death was a horrible accident for which he took responsibility.

Thai officials also said he had admitted drugging her and having sex with her before she died. The girl was found beaten and garroted, with a piece of duct tape over her mouth.

That story, however, did not match the autopsy results, which showed JonBenet had no drugs or alcohol in her system. There was evidence of some sexual molestation but not full intercourse.

"This confession seemed delusional," a former Denver prosecutor, Craig Silverman, said. "He looked like a drugged-out Lee Harvey Oswald." By yesterday, Suwat Tumrongsiskul, of the Thai immigration police, had changed his story on what Mr Karr had or had not confessed, leaving out the part about the drugs and saying instead the whole encounter was "a blur".

It is still not clear what evidence, if any, places Mr Karr in Boulder on the day of the crime, or how he came to know the Ramseys. Mr Karr's former wife claims that he was with her in Alabama at the time.

"At this point, I haven't heard anything very reassuring that we have the right person," said Trip DeMuth, a former Boulder prosecutor who was on the case for the first four years. "I am hoping that they based the arrest on corroborating evidence."