Thai Police Back Off JonBenet Claims

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.


A former Boulder district attorney who investigated the Ramsey case told Moriarty he has serious doubts about any confession because of the amount of public information surrounding the case. "I am very concerned about the viability of this case today, it does not sound to me like they've done their homework sufficiently to have arrested him at this time," says Trip DeMuth.

But private investigator Ollie Gray told CBS News' The Early Show, "I do feel that, based on the fact that warrants have been issued, that (the district attorney) obviously has a sufficient amount of evidence."

"I am so very sorry for what happened to JonBenet," Karr told The Associated Press on Thursday as police brought him through his guesthouse to collect belongings following his arrest. "It's very important for me that everyone knows that I love her very much, that her death was unintentional, that it was an accident."

Suwat, the Thai police general, said a Thai officer asked Karr why he had sex with a 6-year-old girl.

"He said that at the time it was just a blur. He said they were lovers," Suwat told The Associated Press.

Suwat said Karr, whom he described as "quiet and kind of strange," now wanted to go back to the United States to fight the case.

He said U.S. authorities were preparing documents and plane tickets for the return journey. The departure could take place at any time, he said.

The divorced father of three children, once detained on charges of possessing child pornography, apparently traveled the world searching for teaching jobs.

In Taiwan, the National Police Administration said Friday that Karr entered the country in August 2005 and left two months later. The NPA didn't know whether Karr taught during his stay and had no indication he engaged in any criminal behavior.

Karr was arrested a day after he began teaching second grade in Bangkok, District Attorney Mary Lacy told reporters in the Colorado.

"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," Banchong Chompowong, assistant director of Bangkok Christian College's English immersion program, told The Associated Press on Friday.

Karr will be taken within the week to Colorado, where he will face charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and child sexual assault, U.S. officials in Bangkok have said.

CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella reports that law enforcement officials said Karr was given a mouth-swab DNA test in Bangkok, but the results are not yet ready.

Denver attorney Larry Pozner, past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said there were "serious questions" about the case.

"I hope we have found the murderer of JonBenet, but I have not heard the evidence that compels that conclusion," he said.