30 August 2006

John Mark Karr: the Suspicious Suspect

Karr appeared to be a bizarre and unreliable character, and generally suspicious, but there were grounds for doubt about aspects of his confession in the JonBenet murder case.

Information that emerged about this curious man, made him appear a somewhat bizarre and unreliable character, and generally suspicious, even though there appeared to be grounds for considerable doubt about aspects of his confession in this case.

He told various versions of his life story, some seemingly unreliable, but with a consistent and troubling element: a strong desire to be close to children.

He posted what may be a partly or largely fake CV on various websites, claiming a consistent record of successfully preparing youngsters "for a successful future", though he doesn't seem to be remembered by many of those he claims to have worked for. Yet in another online CV he said he worked for years in real estate and restoring old homes.

He was arrested in Thailand where he went to look for work as a teacher, and from his descriptions of his career, has been moving restlessly between short-lasting jobs in a remarkable number of countries, almost always working with children.

In Alabama and California it has been confirmed that he worked in the late 1990's and in 2001, as a substitute teacher, though without notable success.

In Alabama he was fired for things he said which were considered inappropriate for an elementary class, but details are unavailable at present. Yet he has described himself as teaching in "some of the most prestigious schools in the United States, working with children from high profile families", though there has been no confirmation of this.

Ex-wife speaks out
Lara Karr, a former wife, has said he studied the cases of JonBenet Ramsey and also of Polly Klass, another notorious victim, who was in 1993 abducted from her California home, not far from where Karr later lived, and was found killed. But she insists he was with her in Alabama at the time JonBenet was killed, and she doesn't believe he could have been involved.

School officials in Alabama have apparently confirmed that he was at work there as a substitute teacher until a week before the murder.

Twice he married teenagers, both of whom later claimed to have been coerced into the marriage. In 1984, aged 19, he married a girl of 13, according to court records. The next year she applied for annulment of the marriage, saying she was "fearful for her life and safety". In response he insisted she was aged 14. In 1989, he married a girl of 16. Locally, he is remembered as a used car salesman, and as claiming that he delivered their three children at home.

In 2000 after some college classes, he received a bachelor of science degree in liberal arts from a correspondence college, and moved to California, where he again worked briefly as a substitute teacher. This ended when he was arrested for possession of child pornography. Apparently he told his father that he was being held for questioning in connection with the Ramsey killing, though this was not so.

His wife filed for divorce, telling the court that he had lost a job as substitute teacher because he tended to be "too affectionate with children". He pleaded not guilty to the child pornography charges, and was released from jail on probation and required to avoid children and places where children gather.

Later a judge issued a restraining order that he remain at least 100 yards away from his ex-wife and his own children, for three years. Later a warrant was issued for his arrest, for violating the terms of his release.

But by then, according to one of his own versions of events, he was overseas and again working with children. He claims to have taught children in Seoul, Korea, and then in the Netherlands, and later as a private teacher and caregiver in Germany and Holland. He is apparently not remembered at the schools where he says he taught.

He later may have been in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras, before getting a job in Bangkok, Thailand.

Peter Pan
In the meantime, he continued a substantial four-year e-mail correspondence with a Professor at the University of Colorado who had investigated the Ramsey case (apparently not revealing his name), and with JonBenet's mother, Patsy, who very recently died of cancer.

There appears to be concern that in these messages he included some details of the Ramsey house which had not been publicly released. He seems to have described himself as a Peter Pan, who related very well to children.

It's reported, too, that in the e-mails he described himself as wanted for child molestation and murder in four American states, and expressed strong sympathy with Michael Jackson, saying that he too was "trapped in a world that does not understand".

So, what do we seem to have here? A creepy guy, apparently an unreliable witness, with an obsession with little girls and with this JonBenet case in particular. Creepy guys can be innocent, or at least found innocent, as we've seen before; and unreliable guys who tell lies about themselves, can also be guilty. – Prof M.A. Simpson, CyberShrink

Related articles:
What can we make of Karr's "confession"?
Why would ANYONE make false confessions?
(August 2006)




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