Ramsey Suspect's Father, Half Brother Doubt Guilt

ByABC News via via logo

Aug. 25, 2006 — -- The father and half brother of John Mark Karr defended him against charges that he is responsible for the 1996 slaying of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey in an exclusive interview with "Good Morning America" today.

Asked if John Karr, who now sits in a Colorado jail awaiting charges in the Ramsey case, could have been involved in the girl's death, the suspect's half brother, Nate Karr. said, "Absolutely not. Emphatically, absolutely without a doubt impossible."

About his son's apparent television confession in Thailand, Karr's father, Wexford Karr, added, "I don't believe a word of it."

Asked whether Karr was with his family on Christmas 1996, Nate Karr told ABC News, "Well, I can say almost without question that from the time that John had children he has never missed a Christmas with his family -- and that's any Christmas. So, whether it be in Atlanta with us or with Lara in Alabama, we are positive that from the time period that he had children that he's never missed a Christmas with his children."

As for Karr's reported obsession with the Ramsey case, Nate Karr said it was an innocent project that grew out of a college assignment.

"He had expressed interest in writing a book to my father," Nate Karr said. "And I believe my father said to him, 'John, look, whatever grips the American public. … What will sell books? What's on the headlines?' And, of course, that year the No. 1 headline was the tragedy that happened to the Ramsey family. So at that point my brother … decided that would be something people would want to read about. So from that point, it's my understanding John actively pursued information about not only the Ramsey case and the Polly Klaas case … but maybe others as well."

While Nate Karr acknowledged his half brother's interest in the girls' murder cases, he rejected the accusations that he was obsessed with children.

"I think that John has definitely been misunderstood," he said. "He has never done anything to a young child. He may care overly for children as some people do, but he would never do anything to hurt a child, or molest a child or anything like that. There's been no evidence in the past that he's ever done anything like that. You know? So to me that's just wild speculation."

Wexford Karr believes his son is a victim of a huge misunderstanding.

"It must be," he said. "I don't know how this all got started. I cannot believe these stories I see. To me it's fabrication."

John Karr, the 41-year-old former teacher, was transferred Thursday from California to Boulder, Colo., where he is set to face formal charges in the 1996 slaying of JonBenet Ramsey. Before TV cameras and reporters in Thailand last week, Karr said he was with JonBenet at the time of her death and called her death an accident.

Nate Karr said he was disturbed by the images of his half brother following his arrest in Thailand.

"My thought was, 'What have they done to him?' " he said. "That was my immediate thought: 'What have they done to him to make this happen?' Because he looked to me like he had been drugged, almost. It wasn't the John that I know."

In recent days, new details about the suspect's past have emerged. News reports detailed Karr's allegations that his mother tried to kill him when he was a baby.

His mother, Patricia Elaine Adcock, "made a big round doughnut [of kindling] and put him in the middle of it," said George McCrary, a family friend who said he has known Wexford Karr for 40 years.

"She just boxed the little baby in and tried to light it," McCrary said. John's older brother, Michael, "came running in just before she got the flame to the flammable material."

McCrary said Adcock was later committed to a mental institution and is now deceased. She and Wexford Karr divorced in 1973, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Wexford Karr twice married and divorced women who were many years younger than him. He met Adcock, an 18-year-old traveling evangelist from Lovejoy, Ga., and married her when he was 37, according to McCrary.

The interview with John Karr's father and half brother came days after his first wife spoke to "Good Morning America." Quientana Ray was just 12 years old when she met Karr in 1984. Within a year, against her parents' wishes, she married Karr, who was 19 at the time.

Ray told "Good Morning America" that Karr frequently talked about young girls.

"He had fantasies about little girls he would talk to me about," she said.

Ray said her marriage to Karr was tumultuous. In 1985, after nine months of marriage, Ray filed for an annulment, complaining in court records that she was "fearful for her life and safety."

In a response filed with the court, Karr contested Ray's age, saying she was in fact 14. A judge later granted the annulment.

Karr later married a second time, to Lara Karr, who was 16 when their twin daughters died the day they were born on Sept. 1, 1989. The couple went on to have three boys in 1990, 1992 and 1993, and divorced in 2001.

Karr is expected to face first-degree murder and kidnapping charges for the Ramsey slaying.

In addition to first-degree murder, the counts against Karr in a sealed probable-cause arrest warrant include felony murder, first-degree kidnapping, second-degree kidnapping and sexual assault on a child.

Boulder, Colo., prosecutors have not revealed the evidence they have gathered against Karr, though critics have been skeptical about the truthfulness of his alleged confession because of inconsistencies between his statements and the circumstances surrounding JonBenet's slaying.

Karr's family has said that he was not in Boulder, Colo., at the time of JonBenet's killing. Lara Karr told ABC News affiliate KGO-TV in San Francisco that she was with her former husband in Alabama, where they lived at the time of JonBenet's killing, and that she did not believe he was involved in the slaying.

Karr, she said, was fascinated with the Ramsey investigation long before his arrest and spent a lot of time studying her case, as well as the case of Polly Klaas, the 12-year-old girl who was abducted from her Petaluma, Calif., home and slain in 1993.

Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said Karr would be locked alone in an 8-by-10-foot cell, away from the facility's other 480 inmates. The county public defender's office has asked to meet with Karr, and Pelle said he expected a public defender will represent him.

The date of Karr's court appearance in Boulder may be announced today, according to the district attorney's office.

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