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Cops: JonBenet Suspect Has Confessed

John Mark Karr, left, being taken to a police news conference at Immigration office in Bangkok, Thailand Thursday, Aug. 17, 2006. Thai police said that Karr, a 41-year-old American schoolteacher, admitted to the 1996 Boulder, Colo., killing of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey - a crime some feared would never be solved.
AP
A man suspected in the 1996 slaying of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was arrested Wednesday in Bangkok - a breakthrough in a case some feared would never be solved.

JonBenet was found beaten and strangled in the basement of the family's home in Boulder, Colo., on Dec. 26, 1996. Patsy Ramsey reported finding a ransom note demanding $118,000 for her daughter.

At a Thursday morning news conference, a top Thai police official said John Mark Karr - a 41-year-old American teacher - has confessed to the Ramsey killing.

Lt. Gen. Suwat Tumrongsiskul, who heads Thailand's immigration police, says Karr insists 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."

The Thai officer quoted the suspect as saying he tried to kidnap JonBenet for ransom but his plan went awry and he killed her instead.

Karr himself spoke to reporters after the news conference, saying he was with the little girl when she died - but didn't mean to kill her.

CBS News correspondent Erin Moriarty, who covered the case for years and interviewed the Ramseys two years ago, says investigators were led to this suspect because of statements he allegedly made about the case.

An FBI source tells CBS News the leads in this case originated in the United States and went to the FBI in Bangkok, where the suspect's e-mail and phone conversations have been monitored since earlier this summer.

Investigators describe what the suspect talked about in his messages as "hair-raising - to see what he'd done, or contemplated doing, to children."

The source calls those accounts "deadly frightening."

Wednesday, in Boulder, District Attorney Mary Lacy said the arrest follows several months of work. A Ramsey family attorney says Karr, who teaches second grade, once lived in nearby Conyers, Ga., not far from one of the towns the Ramseys have called home.

A law enforcement source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the AP that Karr had been communicating periodically with somebody in Boulder who had been following the case and cooperating with law enforcement officials.

A University of Colorado spokesman, Barrie Hartman, said journalism professor Michael Tracey communicated with Karr over several months and contacted police. The CU spokesman said he didn't know what prompted Tracey to become suspicious of Karr.

Tracey produced a documentary in 2004 called "Who Killed JonBenet?"


Read a statement from John Ramsey,
JonBenet Ramsey's father.

Ramsey family attorney Lin Wood says the arrest is vindication for JonBenet's parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, who had come under suspicion in the slaying. The attorney said the Ramseys learned about the suspect a least a month before Patsy Ramsey's death on June 24 after a long battle with ovarian cancer.

"John and Patsy lived their lives knowing they were innocent, trying to raise a son despite the furor around them," said Wood. "The story of this family is a story of courage, and story of an American injustice and tragedy that ultimately people will have to look back on and hopefully learn from."

"It's been a very long 10 years, and I'm just sorry Patsy isn't here for me to hug her," Wood added.