BOULDER — After Boulder County District Attorney Mary Lacy cleared the man suspected of murdering JonBenet Ramsey, Lacy said she received a phone call from a Longmont man saying she should be “tarred and feathered and run out of town.”
At a tense news conference Tuesday morning, Lacy defended her decision to detain John Mark Karr and vowed to continue investigating JonBenet’s murder. Lacy opted not to bring charges against him Monday, saying DNA did not link him to the crime.
“There is a very high level of frustration and disappointment on the part of law enforcement and the community,” Lacy said. “The decisions were mine. The responsibility is mine. I should be held accountable.”
The missing DNA link between Karr and evidence collected from JonBenet’s underwear would have resulted in an “airtight” case when combined with Karr’s multiple claims that he had committed the murder, prosecutor Pete Maguire said.
“This guy confessed on numerous occasions in great detail,” he said, noting his office had probable cause to pursue an arrest. “This was a bizarre crime and the person who committed this crime acted in a bizarre way.”
Karr became a suspect in the Dec. 26, 1996, beating and strangling of the 6-year-old beauty queen after he began exchanging e-mails with a University of Colorado professor about the case. Karr, in e-mails and phone calls from Thailand, obsessed over the Ramsey case and claimed he accidentally killed JonBenet.
The professor forwarded Karr’s messages to the district attorney’s office in May after Karr confessed to killing the little girl.
“I loved her so much and I am so sorry that she died in my arms,” Karr wrote to the professor in May.
Prosecutors didn’t learn Karr’s name — he went by the name Daxis in e-mails and phone calls — until Aug. 11.
Lacy’s office never established whether Karr visited Boulder around Christmas 1996, despite his claim that he’d had sex with the girl and tasted her blood the night of her murder, Lacy said.
“John Karr sincerely believes he killed JonBenet Ramsey,” she said.
Media reports about the Karr investigation in Thailand forced Lacy’s office to detain the suspect.
Had Karr been found in the United States, investigators might have been able to determine the credibility of his claims without arresting him and sparking a weeklong media frenzy, she said.
However, the publicity surrounding Karr’s arrest resulted in several new leads, investigator Tom Bennett said.
Authorities investigated about 200 other people over the past decade, Lacy said. Karr’s arrest was the first in the history of the case.
In recent months, JonBenet’s father pushed for Lacy to investigate Karr because of Karr’s “dead-on” descriptions of Ramsey family members and JonBenet’s relationship with her brother, Burke.
“John Ramsey and the Ramsey family had their hopes very high. This is going to be a disappointment,” Lacy said.
Amanda Arthur can be reached at 303-684-5215, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.