Breaking: JonBenet Ramsey Murder Suspect Arrested in Thailand

CNN Breaking News: “Authorities arrest a suspect in Bangkok, Thailand, in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case, two law enforcement officials confirm to CNN.”


A man arrested in Thailand is being held in connection with the slaying of JonBenet Ramsey, U.S. law enforcement officials said Wednesday. Federal officials familiar with the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the man was being held in Bangkok on unrelated sex charges.

The girl was found beaten and strangled in the basement of the family’s home in Boulder, Colo., on Dec. 26, 1996.

Law enforcement officials from Boulder were flying to Bangkok to present Thai authorities with documents in the slaying of the 6-year-old beauty pageant contestant, officials in Washington said. They asked to remain anonymous pending an announcement in Colorado.

The girl’s parents, Patsy and John Ramsey, had been under an “umbrella of suspicion” in JonBenet’s death. The Ramseys said an intruder killed their daughter. A grand jury investigation in Boulder ended with no indictments, and no arrests had been made in the case. Patsy Ramsey died in July.

In 2003, U.S. District Judge Julie Carnes in Atlanta concluded that the evidence she reviewed suggested an intruder killed JonBenet. That opinion came with the judge’s decision to dismiss a libel and slander lawsuit against the Ramseys by a freelance journalist, who the Ramseys had named as a suspect in their daughter’s murder. The Boulder district attorney at the time said she agreed with Carnes’ declaration.

UPDATE: Blogswarm, activate.

  • AllahPundit: “Thailand. Sex charges. Gobsmackingly vile.
  • Mary Katharine Ham: “I know it’s a Greta Van Susteren story . . .”
  • LaShawn Barber: “Some people, including me, suspected that her mother, the late Patsy Ramsey, was involved with the killing. I’ll hold off making a statement until I get more info.” [A clear violation of the blogger code! – ed.]

UPDATE: The suspect, American John Mark Karr, has confessed.

John Mark Karr Confesses to JonBenet Ramsey Murder Photo The American suspect in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case said publicly Thursday he was with the 6-year-old when she died and called her death “an accident,” a stunning admission that will help answer 10 years of questions in the unsolved murder case. “I was with JonBenet when she died,” John Mark Karr told reporters in Bangkok, visibly nervous and stuttering as he spoke. “Her death was an accident.”

Police said Karr, 41, admitted to the killing after he was arrested Wednesday at his downtown Bangkok apartment by Thai and American authorities. Karr will be taken to Colorado within the next week where he will face charges of murder, kidnapping and child sexual assault, Ann Hurst, Department of Homeland Security attache at the American Embassy in Bangkok, said at a news conference in Bangkok.

Karr, speaking to reporters after the news conference, declined to say what his connection was to the Ramsey family or how long he had known JonBenet. Wearing a blue, short-sleeved shirt, he appeared ashen with an expressionless look on his face.


Lt. Gen. Suwat Tumrongsiskul said U.S. authorities informed Thai police on Aug. 11 that an arrest warrant had been issued for Karr on charges of premeditated murder. The warrant was sent to Thai police on Wednesday. At the press conference, Suwat said Karr insisted after his arrest that his crime was not first-degree murder. “He said it was second-degree murder. He said it was unintentional. He said he was in love with the child. She was a pageant queen,” Suwat said. The Thai officer quoted the suspect as saying he tried to kidnap JonBenet for a $118,000 ransom but that his plan went awry and he strangled her to death. Patsy Ramsey, JonBenet’s mother, reported finding a ransom note in the house demanding $118,000 for her daughter.

Hurst said Karr has been “very cooperative” with authorities and that he’s shown a “variety of emotions.” She said he has been a suspect “for a while” but wouldn’t specify how long. Suwat said Karr arrived in Bangkok on June 6 from Malaysia to look for a teaching job. It was not clear whether he had gotten a job, the police officer said.

If Karr is the real murderer, he will join a long line of infamous killers who use three names (John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, Mark David Chapman come readily to mind).

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Lucas says:

    I interviewed most of the people involved in “investigating” JonBenet’s murder… most did not believe the Ramseys were involved, but proof could not be found— until today! Ten long years, but finally, hopefully, justice will be served!

  2. Kent G. Budge says:

    From the previous link:

    Can you imagine the grief of losing your child and being falsely accused of murder?

    No, I can’t. It’s unfathomable.

    The public that pays for tabloid rumors are a ghoulish lot, aren’t they?

    But I wonder if we aren’t all voyeurs at some level.

  3. veggiedude says:

    I doubt this is the real killer. He is trying to dodge hard jail time in Thailand, what better way to escape than to confess to this one? Also, his ex-wife says it is geographically impossible for him to be involved in this murder.

  4. mikem says:

    “The public that pays for tabloid rumors are a ghoulish lot, aren’t they?”

    Ah, that’s not fair. I’ld say there are a high percentage of Scientific American readers who believed that one of the Ramseys did it and then bungled a coverup.

    Frankly, I’m waiting to see if this confession is legit. If the guy is guilty (hopefully) then he sure did a masterful job of making the Ramseys look guilty.

  5. mikem says:

    I wonder what the chances are that he will totally rescind his confession as soon as he touches down on the USA.

  6. legion says:

    Are you serious? Thai jail may be nothing to look forward to, but trading it for what’s very likely to be a life sentence in prison for raping & murdering a 6-year old, in a case that every single person in the country has heard of, isn’t that much of an upscale…

    Plus, I believe they’ve already made a DNA match…

  7. Kent G. Budge says:

    If there’s a DNA match, it kind of cements the case.

    Otherwise, I’m a bit skeptical myself. I’m not an expert on Thailand, but it’s just possible that, in Thailand, there aren’t the protections against coerced confessions we have here. Ya think?

    The idea that this is a dodge to get out of Thailand seems a long shot, but the idea that he will recant the moment he touches down here is not. And if he doesn’t, he might still be someone with a pathological need for attention, happy to confess to a famous crime he didn’t commit. (There are precedents.)

    On the other hand, I have gotten the impression in the past that Thailand is a Mecca for sexual deviants looking for, ah, specialty sexual workers. If he was swept up in a Thai attempt to shut down tourist/child prostitution, that might indicate he fits the profile of Ramsey’s murderer.

  8. Kent G. Budge says:

    Curiouser and curiouser.

    My guess at this point is that the man is a complete nut case, and quite possibly a pederast, who is being completely truthful when he says he was infatuated with JonBenet — and who has come to firmly believe his own fantasy that he was with her when she died.

  9. Jim Henley says:

    The capture of this killer shows why people must support my politics.