- Title: THAILAND/USA: Thai police arrest American in JonBenet case
- Date: 17th August 2006
- Summary: (W2) BANGKOK, THAILAND (AUGUST 17, 2006) (REUTERS) VARIOUS SHOTS OF KARR BEING LED BACK TO DETENTION CENTRE BY POLICE AFTER NEWS CONFERENCE (SOUNDBITE) (English) SUSPECT JOHN MARK KARR SAYING: (Reporter: Sir, did you kill JonBenet?) "No, I did not kill anyone. She died accidentally I was with her when she died." MORE OF KARR
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- Story Text: An American primary school teacher accused of the grisly Christmas 1996 murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey said on Thursday (August 17, 2006) the child beauty queen died accidentally.
John Mark Karr, 41, arrested in Thailand on Wednesday (August 16) in a dramatic twist in the case that has gripped the U.S. media, was charged with murder, kidnapping and sexual abuse of a child.
In a brief appearance at a news conference, Karr appeared nervous and stuttered as he answered reporters' questions, saying he was with the girl when she died.
"I was with, I was, I was with JonBenet when she died." (Reporter: Were there other people with you?) "No," said Karr, adding her death was accidental. "Her death was an accident. (Reporter: So you were in the basement?) Yes," Karr said.
Bangkok-based U.S. Homeland Security official Ann Hurst told the news conference Karr would be extradited within a week from a country where the process can take weeks.
"Upon investigation we were able to identify the subject and that is John Mark Karr. Now, he was arrested yesterday, the investigation continues, he will be removed to the United States within the next week," Hurst said in a news conference in Bangkok.
"He has been charged by the State of California, I'm sorry, Colorado, for first degree murder after deliberation, first degree murder, felony, murder, first degree kidnapping, second degree kidnapping and sexual assault on a child," she added.
Karr was arrested on a U.S. Federal warrant in the presence of FBI officers after being followed for three weeks as he sought a job teaching English and Mathematics in Bangkok.
Police said Karr had applied for jobs at Bangkok's dozens of international schools. They had said earlier one had hired him.
Thai Immigration Bureau Commissioner, Suwat Tumrongsiskul, told reporters Karr had admitted to accidentally killing Ramsey, a child beauty queen, and had also said he was in love with her. "When my official asked him, he said he loved the girl, that's all, he loved the girl," he said.
Thai police had followed Karr for 21 days before arresting him at a serviced apartment in downtown Bangkok.
Karr had been in and out of Thailand a couple of times in the past, and has been staying in the country for two months before his arrest late on Wednesday (gmt 0900).
U.S. media said Karr had been living in JonBenet's hometown of Boulder, Colorado at the time of the murder. The child was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her home on Dec. 26 1996.
At the time of JonBenet's murder, a note was left on a staircase of the family home saying she had been kidnapped by a "small foreign faction" who wanted $118,000 in ransom.
JonBenet's parents, John and Patsy, came under suspicion during the initial investigation and in 2002 they reached an out-of-court cash settlement with a former detective who wrote a book accusing them of murdering their own daughter.
Patsy Ramsey died of ovarian cancer in June. The couple had been informed of the progress of the investigation that led to Karr's arrest.
Ramsey told KUSA-TV in Denver that, to the best of his knowledge, he was not acquainted with Karr.
No charges were ever filed in the decade since JonBenet was killed, but the murder generated intense media coverage drawn by JonBenet's success in youth beauty pageants, the family's wealth and mysterious elements of the case, including the note.
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- Embargoed:1st September 2006 13:00