Statement Analysis®

JonBenet Ramsey Murder - John Mark Karr

On August 17, 2006, Thailand authorities arrested John Mark Karr a 42-year-old American teacher who allegedly confessed to killing JonBenet Ramsey. Karr had been emailing a Colorado professor and was making incriminating statements about his involvement in JonBenet's death. The Boulder District Attorney's Office wanted to charge him with her murder. He was extradited back to the United States and brought to Boulder, CO to be arraigned for her murder. However, when the DNA found on JonBenet did not match Karr's DNA, the murder charges against were dropped. He was then sent to California to face child pornography charges. Let's look at some of the incriminating statements made by John Mark Karr.

August 20, 2006

From, a video titled In Karr's own words." These questions were asked while the Thailand authorities were parading Karr in front of the cameras. Karr was surrounded by a lot of people. It sounds as if two different reporters asked him questions.

Reporter: I am with the Associated Press. Can you give us a brief statement?
Karr:       I, I love JonBenet and she died accidentally.
Reporter: Are you an innocent man?
Reporter: Are you an innocent man?
Karr:       No.
Reporter: What happened?
Karr:       Um...Her death was, was an accident.
Reporter: So you were in the basement?
Karr:       Yes.
Reporter: Can you tell us about your connection to the Ramsey family?
Karr:       Ah, no comment on that.
Reporter: How did you, how did you get into the basement?
Karr:       No comment on that.
Reporter: And how, how do you feel now? How have you been treated?
Karr:       Ah, I'm being treated ok.
Reporter: How long had you known JonBenet?
Karr:       Ah, I have no comment on that.

The reporter got exactly what she asked for - "a brief statement." As an interviewer never place a limitation on what the subject may tell you. The more he talks the more information we have to analyze. Karr repeats the word "I" which is an indication he is thinking about what to say. He may be thinking of a lie to tell or if he is being truthful he may be thinking how much should he tell.

He then stated, "I love JonBenet." Since JonBenet died nearly ten years ago, Karr should have spoken in the past tense, "I loved JonBenet." Deceptive people will sometimes use the wrong verb tense. He may also be using present tense language because he is living in a fantasy world. In his mind, she is still alive.

Karr finished the sentence by saying, "she died accidentally." This is an admission but not a confession. An admission is a statement that indicates the person may be involved. Stating that she died accidentally ties Karr to the crime scene if his statement is true. Perhaps he didn't kill her he but witnessed her death. In a confession, the person will take responsibility for what happened. In all of the statements that I have heard and read, Karr never takes responsibility for JonBenet's death. He did not say, "I accidentally killed her" but instead he leaves himself out and says, "she died accidentally." A confession will also include details which Karr refuses to give to the press.

Reporter: Are you an innocent man?
Reporter: Are you an innocent man?
Karr:       No.

Karr was asked this question twice before he gave an answer. It is possible he did not hear the question the first time. It is also possible he did not want to answer the question or was not sure how to answer it.

The question is a terrible question. Even if Karr did not kill JonBenet, his answer of "no" could still be a truthful answer. Karr is probably guilty of something which allows him to say, "No, I am not innocent." A better direct question would have been, "Did you kill JonBenet?"

Reporter: What happened?
Karr:       Um....Her death was, was an accident.

Twice Karr hesitated ("um" and "was, was") when giving his answer. This means he is stalling for time to think about his answer. This is not a confession because he did not say, "I accidentally killed her." Again, he leaves himself out of the statement. This answer also lacks details.

Reporter: So you were in the basement?
Karr:       Yes.

This is a poorly worded question. A better question would have been to ask, "Were you in the basement?" The reporter was not asking him if he was in the basement. The reporter was telling him, "So you were in the basement." This makes it very easy for a person to say, "Yes" because the question implies that the subject was in the basement.

The question did not specify which basement he was in. However, it is presumed the reporter is talking about the Ramsey's basement. In an open statement, people will rarely lie. When asked specific questions a deceptive person may lie. It is easier to lie when a person is asked a "Yes" or "No" question. When Karr was asked a question that required him to explain something he stated, "No comment on that."

The other thing I noticed about this answer was Karr's nonverbal gestures. Your focus should always be on a person's language rather than their body language. However, you should take advantage of any obvious nonverbal cues as long as you don't compromise your listening skills. When Karr was asked this question he looked directly at the reporter. After she asked the question, he turned his head away, looked up and to the right and said "Yes." This is an indication he gave a deceptive answer. When people look up and to the right they are using the creative part of their brain. When a person is attempting to recall information from his memory, he will usually look up and to his left. This is only true if the person is right handed person. For a left handed person, it would be the opposite. I don't know if Karr is right or left handed. That is why the language is more important than the nonverbal gestures.

Here are some statements made by Karr that I have seen in the press.

Karr:       I was with JonBenet when she died.

This is not a confession but an admission. He did not say, "I killed JonBenet." We cannot believe that he killed her unless he tells us he killed her.

The word "with" always indicates distance. Why does he use language that distances himself from JonBenet if the two of them were together? He could have said, "I saw JonBenet die." In that sentence, we do not know if he was close to her or at a distance. He could have said, "We were together when she died" which would show they were very close.

People do not want to lie and if possible they will avoid telling lies. It may be hard for Karr to state, "I killed JonBenet" because that is a direct lie. Therefore, he tells an easier lie; "I was with JonBenet when she died."

Karr:       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.

Again this is an admission and not a confession. He also used present tense language when he said, "I love her very much."

August 27, 2006

The September 4, 2006 issue of People magazine claims they have an exclusive jailhouse interview with John Mark Karr. The problem is People did not personally interview Karr. Instead, People interviewed the Thailand authorities who told them what Karr said. So, the statements we are about to analyze are from a second hand source. People reports that Karr made the following statements.

On JonBenet's death:

Karr:       (The Ramsey's) feel their daughter was brutally murdered, and she wasn't. It looks like that but she wasn't. I want
              them to hear the truth. I need closure and her family needs closure. All of us have gone through enough pain.

First recognize Karr does not confess to the murder. He stated that JonBenet was not brutally murdered but he does not tell us who killed her. The autopsy, which showed signs she was brutally murdered, would seem to contradict his statement.

Karr stated he wanted the Ramseys to hear the truth but he has yet to tell us the truth about what he knows. The fact that he needs closure still does not make him a killer. A lot of people following this case would like some closer.

On the DNA test:

Karr:       The DNA might not match, but you can't trust the test.

Now we have Karr starting to back away from his admission that he killed JonBenet. DNA is one of the most accurate forensic tools that we have. If Karr left DNA at the crime scene, we should be able to match it to him. However, if he was not in the Ramsey house then his DNA is not at the crime scene. Karr has probably heard the authorities have unidentified DNA from the crime scene. He knows it is not his so he comes out with the statement this DNA might not match because the test is not reliable.

August 28, 2006

The Boulder District Attorney announced they were dropping the charges against John Mark Karr in the JonBenet Ramsey murder. It turns out the DNA did not match Karr's DNA. We knew that was going to happen because of Karr's own words, "The DNA might not match" Karr knew it would not match because he was never in the Ramsey house.

There are two things that bother me. First, the Boulder DA did not listen to what Karr was saying. He absolutely needed to be checked out. However, when he does not confess to the killing and only alludes that he might have done it, don't be so quick to want to charge him with her murder. They could have left him in California to face the child pornography charges while they gathered more evidence.

Secondly, one of the best defenses a defendant can have is an alibi. While the crime was being committed the defendant shows evidence he was somewhere else and not at the crime scene. It has been reported that the police never interviewed Karr's family prior to his arrest and extradition to the U.S. Most people know where they were during the Christmas season. Karr's family has always maintained that Karr was with them when JonBenet was killed. Basic police work would be to anticipate an alibi and interview the family before charging someone with a crime.

July 9, 2008

On July 9, 2008, Mary Lacy, the Boulder District Attorney, announced that recently developed "touch DNA" technology had cleared all members of JonBenet Ramsey's family of her slaying. DNA from an unknown male was found on JonBenet's underwear. I am puzzled as to how Mary Lacy came to the conclusion that this evidence exonerates the Ramsey family. The new DNA evidence only proves two things; that an unknown male was perhaps present at the crime scene (We do not know where the DNA came from.) and that the DNA does not belong to any members of the Ramsey family. This evidence does not exonerate the Ramseys. It does not prove they were not present or were not involved or do not know who killed JonBenet.

Next - Burke Ramsey's Interview

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