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DNA Evidence Vindicates Karr As Top Suspect in Ramsey Case

By Kirk Johnson
THE NEW YORK TIMES


BOULDER, COLO.

The case against John M. Karr in the 1996 murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey collapsed on Monday when DNA tests refuted Karr’s claims that he had committed the crime.

The announcement by the Boulder district attorney, Mary T. Lacy, incited a storm of questions about why Karr, 41, had been believed in his admissions, and how he could have led prosecutors into what became an elaborate global farce. Hordes of reporters had tracked Karr’s journey, from his apprehension in Thailand nearly two weeks ago to his return to the United States.

In a motion asking a judge to dismiss the arrest warrant, Lacy wrote that Karr’s obsession with the case and its details, combined with his own statement of guilt, had compelled her to act first and test later. But in the end, she said, his words were all there was.

“No evidence has developed, other than his own repeated admissions, to place Mr. Karr at the scene of the crime,” she wrote. “Mr. Karr was not the source of the DNA found in the underwear of JonBenet Ramsey.”

The resulting anger, in a case that has produced numerous investigative blunders over the years, was immediate. “They took this man and dragged him here from Bangkok, Thailand, with no forensic evidence confirming the allegations against him and no independent factors leading to a presumption that he did anything wrong,” Karr’s lawyer, Seth Temin, said outside the Boulder County Jail, where Karr was still being held on Monday afternoon. “We’re deeply distressed.”

The Ramsey family has been at the center of the story for years, part of that time under suspicion by prosecutors. Patsy Ramsey, JonBenet’s mother, died in June from ovarian cancer at age 49. Her sister, Pamela Paugh, said on Monday that the search for the real killer would continue.

“He wasn’t the only name on the list,” Paugh said of Karr.

What is next for Karr is uncertain. He still faces five misdemeanor counts in California of possessing child pornography on his computer. In 2001, he was held in the Sonoma County Jail for six months and then released, with bail waived. When he failed to appear at a court date, the judge issued a warrant for his arrest.

The district attorney in Sonoma, Stephan R. Passalacqua, said in a written statement that Karr would be extradited back to face those charges.