I think I should get my quarter back.
When John Mark Karr burst onto the news as a possible suspect in the nearly decade-old murder of Jonbenet Ramsey, I was floored.
I have covered this case from the beginning, and over the years, time and again, when people have pulled me aside to whisper conspiratorially, "Who really did it?" my answer has always been the same. "Until the courts convict someone of this crime," I have said, "We will not know who the murderer is, but some of those investigating the murder, lacking other suspects, still cling to the possibility the Ramseys were responsible."
I would always take pains to say that this does not mean the parents did it, but that until someone else was convicted, some investigators felt the family could not be utterly cleared either.
So as Boulder authorities started beating the drum on John Mark Karr, I thought a page might finally be turned. Maybe after all this time, all the speculation, and suffering, the Ramseys would finally be proven to be not involved, and the actual killer would be brought to justice.
I felt that way for about 24 hours. Then the story of John Mark Karr started falling apart. You know all the details by now. You've heard about the unanswered questions about his past. The alibis he didn't even ask for, but were offered up by his family. The strange e-mails and apparent obsession with a little girl's death.
I wrote on this blog
some days back that I long ago bet a quarter with a colleague about the Ramsey case. I told this co-worker that I thought no one would ever be charged with the murder. John Mark Karr, for a short day, made me believe I'd lost the bet, and I was happy for it.
Now I'm back to where I've been for ten years, writing the same sentence that expresses the one undeniable fact of this terrible case: A 6-year-old girl was murdered in her own home on Christmas night, and no one has ever been charged with the crime.
And once again, I doubt that anyone ever will be.