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Details Slim After Arrest in JonBenet Ramsey Case


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

The prosecutor in the Jon Benet Ramsey murder case asked for patience today, and she advised reporters and the public not to jump to conclusions. On Wednesday, John Mark Karr was arrested in Bangkok, Thailand, where he'd started teaching second grade the day before. Karr allegedly admitted to killing the six-year-old girl by accident in 1996. But Boulder County District Attorney Mary lacy says the investigation will continue.


From Denver, NPR's Jeff Brady reports.

JEFF BRADY reporting:

Dozens of reporters lined up in a grassy area across from the justice center in Boulder expecting to learn more about the decade-old murder case. Prosecutor Mary Lacy talked for nearly 30 minutes but said she wouldn't offer much new information.

Ms. MARY LACY (District Attorney, Boulder County, Colorado): We can't comment on the evidence in this case at this time.

BRADY: Lacy repeated that comment more than a dozen times. Her caution is understandable considering that the investigation, especially early on, was criticized by many, even some who were closely involved. Lacy said her office and many law enforcement agencies have been looking for John Karr for several months and that one of her staffers left on very short notice on Monday to go to Thailand.


Ms. LACY: What I can tell you in a generic sense is that in all serious cases we work hard with law enforcement not to make an arrest until the investigation is substantially complete.

BRADY: But, Lacy said, that's the best-case scenario. Sometimes it's necessary to arrest someone earlier for fear they might be in danger or they might try to flee. But then she repeated that she was talking in a generic sense, not about this particular case.

What we do know is that John Karr was charged five years ago with possessing child pornography in California, but he jumped bail and fled the country. If reporters were frustrated with the lack of new information, there was one person in the crowd they were anxious to interview.

Michael Tracey is a University of Colorado journalism professor. He's made documentaries critical of how the police, the previous D.A. and the media handled the original murder investigation. But today he had nothing but praise for D.A. Lacy and her team.

Professor MICHAEL TRACEY (University of Colorado): It was an incredible performance and personally restored a certain faith in law enforcement, because I didn't have a lot of faith in law enforcement.

BRADY: Tracey has become a part of the investigation. Four years ago he says he began exchanging e-mails with John Karr. Tracey says he waited until May to go to the police but won't say why, nor will he talk about the content of the e-mails or how they might factor into a case against Karr. One reporter asked Tracey if he thought the developments of the past couple of days vindicate John and Patsy Ramsey.

Professor TRACEY: There's basically zero meaningful evidence that points to the Ramseys. I believe an intruder killed Jon Benet, whoever it was.

Unidentified Man #1 (Reporter): You believe it was John Karr.

Professor TRACEY: I have no comment on Mr. Karr.

BRADY: John Ramsey, JonBenet's father, was also restrained in his comments about Karr. He said the justice system should be allowed to operate to its conclusion in an orderly manner, and he said he wants “to avoid feeding the type of media speculation that my wife and I were subjected to for so many years.” His wife, Patsy, died earlier this year after battling ovarian cancer. Ramsey said that before her death in June, she was aware that investigators were close to making an arrest. He said that if she had lived to see this day, she no doubt would have been pleased.

Jeff Brady, NPR News, Denver. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.