JonBenet's Aunt: Wait And See On Karr

With questions swirling about John Mark Karr's role in the death of JonBenet Ramsey, the slain 6-year-old's aunt said Friday her family is cautious but hopeful about the arrest.

"We are optimistic, but it's wait-and-see," said Pamela Paugh, sister of JonBenet's mother Patsy Ramsey, outside her family's Roswell, Ga. home. "We've been patient for nine and a half years; what's a few more months?"

Karr remained jailed in Thailand on Friday, one day after his public proclamation there that he was with JonBenet when she was killed in Boulder, Colo., in 1996. He is due back in the U.S. on Sunday.

A Thai police general said, "The tickets for 41-year-old John Mark Karr's departure are ready."

Karr said Thursday that he wasn't innocent in the case, but questions have been raised about some of his claims.

Paugh, who has acted as her family's spokeswoman since the arrest, said the family has its own concerns about Karr's statements but remains confident in the work of Boulder County District Attorney Mary Lacy and other investigators.

"She would never do something (haphazardly) when she knows the world's eyes are on her," Paugh said of Lacy. "She's not going to just go out there willy-nilly and pick up some nut case."

CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen, who has followed the Ramsey case extensively, agrees.

"If they don't have anything, they become laughingstocks of all time in the law enforcement profession, and I'm simply unwilling to believe that," Cohen says of the Boulder DA's office.

Paugh said she's spoken with JonBenet's father, John Ramsey, but did not know where he currently is. She said he's upbeat about the arrest, but not yet ready to speak publicly.

"It's a very touchy thing right now," Paugh said. "All this is bringing up some very hurtful and terrible memories, even though it's a good thing; he just needs some alone time."

Meanwhile, police in the town just north of Atlanta where Patsy Ramsey spent the final months of her life, declined to comment Friday on whether they had set up a ruse to trap e-mails or letters that Karr tried to send Ramsey.

The family's attorney, Lin Wood, in Atlanta said Patsy Ramsey never received the correspondence because police or someone else set up an address. "He thought that he was corresponding with Patsy, but he wasn't," Wood told The Associated Press.

A spokesman for the Roswell Police Department, which helped to identify and locate Karr, declined to say Friday whether his agency conducted the correspondence ruse.

"We're not commenting on any part of the investigation," Sgt. James McGee said.

Authorities asked Ramsey in late May — a month before she died of cancer — whether she would be willing to meet with Karr, Wood said.

Ramsey said she would meet with Karr if it would advance the investigation into her daughter's slaying, but the meeting never took place because authorities did not get back to her before she died in June, Wood said.

For most of Friday, speculation swirled around e-mails Karr sent regarding Ramsey's death. The day before Christmas Eve 2005, Karr sent an e-mail to University of Colorado professor Michael Tracey. It was one of a disturbing series of e-mails between Tracey and a person investigators believe to be Karr.

A source close to the investigation told CBS News the reason investigators moved in on Karr was because of details in these emails about the Ramsey house that had not been made public, reports CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella.

Correspondence obtained by the Rocky Mountain News included one message in which the professor was asked to visit JonBenet's home in Boulder to read aloud an ode called "JonBenet, My Love."

Tracey once worked for CBS News as a consultant on the Ramsey case.

"JonBenet, my love, my life. I love you and shall forever love you. I pray that you can hear my voice calling out to you from my darkness, this darkness that now separates us," read one of the e-mails, which the newspaper said Friday it obtained from a source close to the investigation.

In other e-mails, Karr said he was under federal investigation for "child murder and child molestation" in four states.

"I don't know that he's guilty," said Tracey. "Obviously, I went to the district attorney for a reason, but let him have his day in court and let JonBenet have her day in court and let's see how it plays out."


In another e-mail, the Rocky Mountain News reported, Karr said he sympathized with Michael Jackson, who was accused but later acquitted of molesting young boys.

"I will tell you that I can understand people like Michael Jackson and feel sympathy when he suffers as he has," Karr wrote.

"I can relate very well to children and the way they think and feel," one Karr e-mail said. "I think you are asking if I am much a 'Peter Pan.' In many ways, the answer is yes. In other ways, I suppose it is no, because I am trapped in a world that does not understand."

In another correspondence, Tracey asked whether Karr's "fascination with little girls, which clearly has a strong erotic component, is a way of going back."

"Maybe I am not going back but have simply stayed consistent," Karr responded. "My peer group has not changed since I was a little boy, and girls were the people I was with always. Referring to them as a peer group is somewhat incorrect, but might also be the very definition of what they continue to be in my life."

Karr is a man who, while wanted as a fugitive on child pornography charges, sought to impress prospective employers with a long record of accomplishment preparing young lives "for a successful future."

Karr went through his teen years mostly unnoticed, one of his classmates told CBS News 48 Hours correspondent Erin Moriarty, keeping mostly to himself.

He is a man who twice married teenagers — one just 13 at the time. Both would later claim they had been coerced.

And he is the man who years ago confided to family members that he was deeply troubled by the murder of the Colorado 6-year-old, who told U.S. investigators that he picked JonBenet up at school, drugged and had sex with her before accidentally killing her in Colorado in 1996, Thai police Lt. Gen. Suwat Tumrongsiskul told The Associated Press.

But questions have been raised about some of his claims, including whether he drugged the 6-year-old, sexually assaulted her or was even in Colorado at the time of the slaying.

Hours after Karr told reporters in Thailand he was with JonBenet when she died, questions arose about his claims.

Suwat changed some details Friday of the account he had given of what Karr told investigators. In a telephone interview Thursday with the AP, Suwat quoted Karr as saying he had sexually assaulted the girl and given her drugs. He also told reporters before a news conference Thursday that Karr had claimed to have picked up JonBenet at her school.

On Friday, Suwat confirmed to the AP his account of the sexual assault. But asked Friday if Karr gave the girl drugs, Suwat said the suspect described the encounter with JonBenet Ramsey as "a blur."

"It may have been drugs, or it may have been something else because (Karr said) it was a blur, blur," Suwat said.

Suwat also said Friday that his statement about the girl being picked up from school was based on a documentary he had seen and not the interrogation.

Among the possible discrepancies between his confession and earlier established facts: An autopsy was inconclusive about sexual assault, and few experts believe that a girl who was slowly strangled with a garrote was killed by accident. There are even questions whether Karr was in Colorado at the time of the slaying — his ex-wife says he was with her in Alabama throughout the 1996 holiday season, when JonBenet was killed.