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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 August 2006, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Suspect speaks on JonBenet death
John Mark Karr (centre) in Bangkok
John Mark Karr (centre) is a former teacher
A US man has been arrested in Thailand in connection with the death of child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey 10 years ago in Colorado.

John Mark Karr, 41, told reporters: "I was with JonBenet when she died. Her death was an accident."

The six-year-old was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her home in a case that shocked the US public.

JonBenet's father said he and her mother, who died of cancer in June, had both been aware an arrest was imminent.

US warrant

Mr Karr, a former teacher, was arrested at an apartment in the Thai capital, Bangkok.

It's certainly a day we have been waiting for for 10 years. I hope this is a first major step in really drawing this to a conclusion, but it also opens up old wounds, and that's painful
John Ramsey, father

He was held on a US warrant after being tracked by police as he sought to find a teaching job in Thailand, officials said.

Paraded briefly before reporters, Mr Karr, when asked if he killed JonBenet, said: "No, I did not. It was an accident."

District Attorney Mary Lacey in JonBenet's home town of Boulder said the arrest had followed "several months of a focused and complex investigation".

Mr Karr will be sent to Colorado within days to face charges of murder, kidnapping and child sexual assault, said US official Ann Hurst.

Patsy and John Ramsey in 2000
Patsy Ramsey - who died in June - and her husband John knew an arrest was expected

The Ramsey family, who later moved to Atlanta, Georgia, have fought for years to clear their names of persistent accusations of involvement in the death of their daughter.

Their lawyer, Lin Wood, said the Ramseys had learned about the suspect at least a month before JonBenet's mother, Patsy, died of cancer.

"It's been a very long 10 years and I'm just sorry Patsy isn't here for me to hug her neck," Mr Wood said.

Father John Ramsey said in a statement: "Patsy was aware that authorities were close to making an arrest in the case and had she lived to see this day, would no doubt have been as pleased as I am with today's development almost 10 years after our daughter's murder."

Mr Ramsey later told US media that to the best of his knowledge he did not know Mr Karr.

The Ramsey family lawyer told Associated Press news agency Mr Karr once lived near the family in Georgia before they moved to Colorado.

Settlement

Patsy Ramsay had called police on 26 December 1996 to say JonBenet was missing and that there was a ransom note demanding $118,000 (62,000).

JonBenet Ramsey's grave in Georgia
Many thought that the case would never be solved

After an initial police search of the home, officers asked John Ramsey to look again and he found JonBenet's body in the basement.

The case captivated US media, which focused on the ransom note, the role of child beauty pageants in society and attempts by the parents to resist police interviews.

In 1999, the Governor of Colorado, Bill Owens, told the parents to "quit hiding behind their attorneys, quit hiding behind their PR firm".

The Ramseys showed they had passed lie detector tests in 2000, which they said proved they were not attempting deception.

In 2002 they agreed an out-of-court cash settlement with an ex-detective whose book said they had murdered JonBenet.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Background to the murder of child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey



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