Friday, August 18, 2006

JonBenet Ramsey's murder suspect was in Costa Rica

Murder suspect John Mark Karr is led by Thai and U.S. officials from the detention center to a police news conference at Immigration office in Bangkok, Thailand Thursday, Aug. 17, 2006. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)Suspect taught English clases in Costa Rica. He left the country in August, 2004

By Otto Vargas M.

Translated by Uri Ridelman

A former American school teacher, who is a suspect in the 1996 death of 6-year-old girl in Colorado, was in Costa Rica while on the run from authorities for the crime.

John Mark Karr arrived to Costa Rica on an unknown date and abandoned it crossing the border into Nicaragua by land on August 3, 2004, according to the records of the Immigration and Foreign Issues office.

This however wasn't Karr first visit to Costa Rica. In 1993, three years before Ramsey's murder, Karr spent a week in the country as part of his vacations.

Officials of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) in Costa Rica said that the presence of Karr in Costa Rican soil went unnoticed because they never received an arrest request.

On one of the resumes that Karr posted online, he wrote that he had taught English in many countries, Costa Rica being one of them.

Karr was captured in his apartment by Thai police on August 16 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Child model and beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey/KUSA photoJonBenet Ramsey, a 6-year-old child beauty queen, was found beaten and strangled to death in the basement of her Colorado home the day after Christmas in 1996.

Striking video images of the blonde-haired girl in child beauty pageants helped propel the case into one of the highest-profile mysteries in the United States.

Investigators said at one point that JonBenet's parents were under an "umbrella of suspicion" in the slaying, and some news accounts cast suspicion on JonBenet's older brother, Burke. But the Ramseys insisted an intruder killed their daughter, and no one was ever charged.

Wednesday's arrest was a surprise development in one of America's most lurid murder cases, which had left a cloud of suspicion over her family after years went by with no arrests. Some feared the case would never be solved.

Karr confessed to the killing after his arrest Wednesday at his downtown Bangkok guesthouse by Thai and American authorities, said Lt. Gen. Suwat Tumrongsiskul, head of Thailand's immigration police. Lt. Gen. Suwat Tumrongsiskul, head of Thailand's immigration police, speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at his office.

Suwat quoted Karr as saying he tried to kidnap JonBenet for a $118,000 ransom but that his plan went awry and he strangled her. Patsy Ramsey reported finding a ransom note in the house demanding $118,000 for her daughter.

In a telephone interview Thursday with The Associated Press, Suwat quoted Karr as saying he had sexually assaulted the girl. He also said that the suspect described the encounter with JonBenet Ramsey as "a blur."

The Ramseys learned that police were investigating Karr at least a month before the June death of JonBenet's mother, Patsy Ramsey, of ovarian cancer, the family said.

In a statement Wednesday, father John Ramsey said that if his wife had lived to see Karr's arrest, she "would no doubt have been as pleased as I am with today's development almost 10 years after our daughter's murder."

Information from the AP was used in this article.

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