Psychiatrist: Ramsey Suspect Seems Like 'Ill Man'

ByABC News via via logo

Aug. 26, 2006 — -- Alleged voice recordings of the suspect in the killing of child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey and exclusive interviews with the suspect's relatives reveal a "deeply disturbed, psychiatrically ill man," according to a renowned forensic psychiatrist.

Dr. Keith Ablow, host of the upcoming "Dr. Keith Ablow Show," reached that conclusion on "Good Morning America Weekend Edition" after listening to alleged telephone recordings of the suspect, John Mark Karr, broadcast exclusively by ABC News, and after viewing ABC News' exclusive interviews with Karr's father, half brother and first wife.

"GMA" asked Ablow to review the public evidence that surfaced this past week in advance of Karr's first court hearing on Monday, and before the debut of Ablow's television show on Sept. 11.

Following are excerpts of Ablow's conversation with ABC News' Kate Snow:

Kate Snow: Let's start with our exclusive interview that we had here on ABC News with Nate Karr, the brother of John, and also his father, Wex. When I spoke to them, they talked about his obsession, John's obsession, with JonBenet Ramsey.


Nate Karr: I think that he -- because of the fact that he had, you know, five years ago, had lost basically the ability to see his sons and his wife -- that maybe he felt lost and maybe that was the only reality he had left, you know, unfortunately. That's very unfortunate, but that's a possibility in my mind -- you know, maybe -- that his dedication to that project is all he had left.

Snow: He's talking about the project of researching and being obsessed with JonBenet.

Dr. Keith Ablow: Absolutely. That's what I've been speaking … publicly about this man, is he seems untethered to his own existence. In other words, he's not sure of his own gender. He's not sure chronologically even what age he is. He had such trauma in his early life experience, including apparently an assault, an attempted murder by his mother, that I think he is a free-floating individual who isn't anchored in himself. Therefore, he can dock his ship wherever he's moved to. As his brother alludes to in your interview, he has had trauma more recently: He's lost everything. This may be all he has. It makes sense. It makes psychological sense.

Snow: Does this make sense -- another thing Nate Karr said? When I asked whether John was obsessed with little girls, whether he had any problem with little girls, here was his answer to that.


Nate Karr: I think that John has definitely been, you know, misunderstood. He has never done anything to a young child. He may care, overly, for children, as some people do, but it's like … he would never do anything to hurt a child, to molest a child or anything like that.

Snow: They said he had a normal attraction to women, not little girls.

Ablow: Well, I think that I would beg to differ. In my interview with John Karr's first wife, it's clear that, number one, he married a 13-year-old. Secondly, he asked her to appear younger. Also, in the tapes I've reviewed that you asked me to review, he speaks about physical characteristics of little girls that are very compelling to him in a romantic and sexual way, and says that he uses those to stimulate himself sexually. So his brother seems to be mistaken. Provided all the tapes that have been presented are John Karr, we're talking about a person who is attracted to little girls.

Snow: Let's move to the audio tapes made my a woman, Wendy Hutchens. She says she was working as a confidential informant to law enforcement, Sonoma (Calif.) police, and provided them with excerpts of these conversations that she made with a man she says is John Karr. ABC news has exclusive access to these tapes, as you know. Let's hear the caller who we believe may be John Karr, the caller talking about how he loves moms.


Recorded voice purported to be John Karr: I do, I fall in love with them. I think it's a throwback to my own mom. … It's my desire that my own mom would have been more perfect. When I run to the one who is like -- I'll call her Mrs. Ramsey, you know -- who's perfect … I'm the type of person where if I knew that that mom had killed her daughter and had sex with her and was sexually attracted to her, I would love to just tell her, "Please just let this go and forgive yourself, because your daughter's forgiven you."

Snow: What's the explanation there? What is going on?

Ablow: Well, what's happening there is that John Karr is presenting his lead theory about the murder of this young girl, JonBenet Ramsey. His lead theory that comes out of the audio tapes you asked me to review.

Snow: John Karr's theory.

Ablow: John Karr's lead theory. Not my lead theory. I don't need a call from Lin Wood, the Ramseys' attorney. John Karr's lead theory is that Patsy Ramsey killed her daughter. That's what he's alluding to there. He's saying that, "I would want that mother to have peace and be forgiven." And, remember, his mother tried to kill him. And he's saying moms are perfect.

Snow: You think he might be covering for Patsy Ramsey?

Ablow: I think that one logical conclusion, psychologically, that comes out of listening to those audiotapes, is that he wishes to take the rap for the person he believes did this, Patsy Ramsey.

[Note: A Colorado grand jury in 1999 determined there was not sufficient evidence to support the theory that John and Patsy Ramsey were involved in the slaying of their daughter JonBenet. Neither parent was ever charged in connection with the case.]

Snow: Let's take one more here. You did an interview with his first wife and you talk about the control John Karr had over her.

Clip from upcoming episode of "The Dr. Keith Ablow Show":

Ablow: You had the sense that he was drugging you. What did you experience when it happened?

Quientana Ray, Karr's first wife: Well, I would wake up in the morning. My eyes would be just solid red. And I had blood blisters in places that I shouldn't.

Ablow: So what do you say to him?

Ray: I know I went to bed Tuesday and I know I'm waking up on Thursday. I said something to him about it. He just got angry.

Snow: He just got angry. Was he a controlling man?

Ablow: Absolutely controlling. After all, he asked her to smile in a different way. According to her, he drugged her and assaulted her sexually in her sleep as she slept for a day and a half. So controlling -- beyond belief controlling. [He] wanted her only to shower with him, to go to bed unclothed because he had to decide what she wore -- so controlling, absolutely. What emerges from your audiotapes is a deeply disturbed, psychiatrically ill man, if that is him on the audio tapes. He believes he's in communication with these girls, that he has ESP, that when he drives by these homes a force slaps him physically. If this is the man we are talking about, John Mark Karr, we are talking about a psychiatrically ill man, for sure, based on your tapes.

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