Costly flight for suspect in Ramsey case defended

BOULDER, Colorado: District Attorney Mary Lacy has defended her decision to send her investigators halfway around the globe to arrest a man in the 1996 murder of JonBenet Ramsey, despite the disclosure that DNA tests did not link him to the killing.

"Every one of you here knows that hindsight is 20/20 and that after the game is over, it's easy to criticize what people have done and what decisions have been made," Lacy said at a news conference Tuesday.

Two weeks earlier, at a similar gathering, she announced the arrest in Bangkok of the man, John Mark Karr, 41, a teacher who had jumped bail after serving six months in California on a 2001 child pornography charge.

Since 2002, Karr had engaged in a bizarre series of e-mail messages with a journalism professor at the University of Colorado, Michael Tracey, in which he told Tracey he was a pedophile who preferred to be romantically and sexually involved with 6-year-old girls. He also said he loved JonBenet, but killed her accidentally by leaving a garrote around her neck longer than planned and then striking her on the head.

Karr was taken into custody at his apartment in Bangkok on Aug. 16, an arrest that generated almost as much news media attention as JonBenet's killing did at her family's home in Boulder.

Lacy

is facing a storm of criticism from scores of local residents who have been calling her and sending her e-mail messages to tell her she should be "tarred and feathered." Governor Bill Owens, a Republican, said she should be "held responsible for the most expensive DNA test in Colorado history."

Lacy estimated the cost of Karr's arrest at just under $10,000, which did not include his incarceration. But at the news conference Tuesday, the district attorney and her investigators emphasized that they were not looking to make excuses, but to explain how the case against Karr unfolded and collapsed.

"We had probable cause to arrest him," she said, including Karr's own words in the e-mail messages and subsequent telephone calls to Tracey, and in statements he made to reporters in Thailand.

In addition, she said surreptitious efforts to obtain Karr's DNA before his arrest led to "mixed samples" that were unusable, and that his consent and a court order were needed to get a sample from him for an accurate test.

Katie Kelley contributed reporting.

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