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Thai Police Back Off JonBenet Claims

American John Mark Karr, center, is shown a seat by Thai plainclothes police officers before a news conference at Immigration office in Bangkok, Thailand Thursday, Aug. 17, 2006. Karr, 41, said he was with the girl in her family's basement when she died and that her death was an accident. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)
AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong
Murder suspect John Mark Karr on Friday awaited expulsion to the U.S., where questions mounted over whether his stunning confession to the slaying of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was that of a killer or merely someone obsessed with the case.

Hours after John Mark Karr told reporters in Thailand he was with JonBenet when she died, questions arose about his claims, including whether he sexually assaulted the young American beauty queen or was even in Colorado at the time of the killing.

Lt. Gen. Suwat Tumrongsiskul of the Thai immigration police changed some details Friday of the account he had given of what Karr told investigators. In a telephone interview Thursday with The Associated Press, 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 his statement about the girl being picked up from school was based on a documentary he had seen and not the interrogation.

Meanwhile, slices of Karr's globe-trotting life as a teacher began to emerge as he remained detained in an immigration jail in Thailand's capital.

An administrator at an elite Bangkok school described Karr as articulate and polite, but too strict, and said he was fired after two weeks on the job.

"John Karr came to us with a good resume and with credentials, but then we allowed him a trial (period) with students, we found he was too strict," said Banchong Chompowong, an administrator at Bangkok Christian College's elementary school.

Experts said the questions surrounding Karr's story put more pressure on corroborating evidence such as DNA.

In addition to Suwat changing his story, Lara Karr said she was with her former husband in Alabama at the time of JonBenet's killing, and does not believe he was involved in the homicide. Her attorney, Michael Raines, said he has instructed Karr's ex-wife to go through photographs of the family back in 1996 at Christmas time, when she claims they spent the holiday together.

In Franklin County, Ala., school officials told the New York Times that records showed Karr had been at work there until the end of the term on Dec. 19, 1996, a week before the murder.

CBS News 48 Hours correspondent Erin Moriarty reported that investigators may have arrested Karr this week not because they had definitive evidence linking him to the Ramsey murder, but because they feared he might hurt a child in Thailand.