Wednesday, August 16, 2006
What really matters about JonBenet's case
I never thought I'd see it. When I covered the JonBenet Ramsey murder and the unending aftermath that started a decade ago, I reached only one firm conclusion about the case -- I just knew that no one would ever be arrested.

Missteps by the police, the apparent wariness of John and Patsy Ramsey, and sheer time seemed to make it impossible for anyone to ever be locked-up for this crime.

Every suspect I heard about was soon discounted by the authorities. Every new lead turned to trash. Every suspicion seemed to lead back to the family or someone very close to them, and yet police could simply not find enough proof to level a charge. The winter of the killing turned to spring, then to summer, then to fall and then winter came again, and still I was stalking the streets of Boulder and filing reports on the horrible murder of a six-year-old girl.

I took to ending many of my stories with a simple statement; something like this: "For all the months of investigation, this is all we know -- a six-year-old girl was killed in her home on Christmas night, and no one has yet spent a day in jail for her murder."

I thought it was a line that captured what really mattered. Beyond the hype and tabloid coverage and prurient interests that swirled around the death of a little beauty queen, I felt I should always point out that she was first a little girl. It was her house. No one was being charged. And that is inherently tragic. I thought it was a line that would last forever.

The man who has been arrested, no one should forget, has not been convicted of this crime and we haven't even heard his side of the story yet. The book on JonBenet's murder is far from closed. But a new chapter has been opened and that is an enormous surprise.

A colleague in New York asked me years ago the perennial question: When will someone be arrested?

I took out a coin, taped it to the top of her computer, and said, "I'll bet you this quarter that it never happens. If it does, take the quarter. Meanwhile, I'll always know I've got 25 cents waiting for me in New York."

I hope she took it today. Best quarter I ever lost.
Posted By Tom Foreman, CNN Correspondent: 9:55 PM ET
I find it hard to belive that it's almost been 10 years.
Posted By Anonymous kat, SF, CA : 10:19 PM ET
I would simply say that this cuts many ways. Having spent many years looking at the books, interviews and articles, there is much more that we don't know, but it certainly wasn't jumping to conclusions to look very hard at the parents. A PR firm has worked this story for the Ramsey's for many years. It is possible this arrest is staged and will come to nothing. It is also possible that this arrest was purposely deferred till after the death of Patsy to spare her some embarrassment. It is possible that it is the most extraordinary stalking and murder of a child ever perpetrated. But the latter seems fantastical when one examines the evidence. DNA discovered seven years late. An incoherent fawning ransom note. The dog which barked in the night.
Posted By Anonymous G. W. Boyd, Mount Holly NJ : 11:16 PM ET
Why is the media so obsessed about this story? Let's rest this poor girl's soul to rest and move on. Enough already!
Why can't we spend the same amount of time and effort talking about child poverty and child labour around the world?
Posted By Anonymous G.G.,Ontario, Canada : 11:25 PM ET
Hey Tom- I am fasinated with this case.Thanks for the great coverage of the breaking news. I watch the tapes of Patsy Ramsey crying and warning other parents that a murder is loose. At the time I just thought she was bad acting but what guilt I feel today as I realize that she was indeed innocent and living with the public accusations of murdering her own daughter. How unbearable it must have been for Patsy to live each day. I do hope that she is now with jonbenet and somehow knows that a suspect has been arrested. We should all take this as a lesson to not jump to conclusions so quickly. God bless her and may she and Jonbenet rest in peace.
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann Taylor Nacogdoches, Tx : 11:32 PM ET
Such a tragic end to a small life. My oldest daughter is the age Jon Benet would be today. I look at the things her mother and father must have missed out on and sigh. I truly hope this is the killer and that some of their "not knowing" will be over.
Posted By Anonymous mls, NO LA : 11:33 PM ET
It's hard to believe that Jon Benet would be sixteen years old this year. I was glad to learn that Patsy knew that the DA's thought they were getting closer to an arrest, before she passed.

Everyone I know, who knew the Ramsey when they lived here, all believed them to be innocent, that there was no way they could have killed their daughter.

If Carr is guilty, I hope they can match his DNA with that found on Jon Benet. That should pretty much seal the case, and there won't have to be a gureling trial. This case is very important to the Boulder County's DA office. This is a career-making or career-breaking case for Mary Lacey; I know she is making sure everything is done right this time.

I hope this can bring some peace to the family. I don't think there can be closure, but maybe some relief.

Boulder, Colorado
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Boulder, Colorado : 11:45 PM ET
Hi Tom,
Yes, that was indeed a quarter well spent.. It goes to show us that we all must believe in never saying never..I hope JonBenet's family will get justice once and for all..Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton Calif. : 11:51 PM ET
It is so sad to see the media make such a circus over an arrest - we are so far away from a conviction. With all the mistakes and contamination it's hard to believe that there is enough evidence to convict beyond a doubt.
I really hope that this is the perpertrator and that he is convicted, Only then will Mrs Ramsey and her child finally rest in peace. My heart goes out to Mr Ramsey and the family.
Posted By Anonymous Reena, Phoenix AZ : 12:15 AM ET
This is a huge surprise. The Boulder DA and police department have been lambasted for apparent missteps and errors in the investigation, yet 10 years after the crime, they now seem to have a solid suspect.

This proves we should let the system and the people in it do their job, and not pass judgment on them when there is so much about cases like these yet to be made public. It also makes me sad for the Ramseys, who were considered by most of the US to be the culprits for lack of a more solid suspect.

We should each be humbled and learn from this.
Posted By Anonymous Mitch, Orange County, CA : 12:22 AM ET
I think I'm as stunned to hear about the arrest in this case, as I was to hear about this child's murder. If evidence proves this man to be guilty and his punishment fits the crime, perhaps the rest of Jon Benet's family will finally begin to heal and remember only the sweetness of a beautiful little girl who wanted nothing more than to be happy and loved.

Posted By Anonymous Maggie, Grain Valley, MO : 12:29 AM ET
I am sorry for the accusations and harsh words the Ramseys suffered due to mere speculation, especially after the loss of a child in such a horrific way. And to then be put on the defense and have your world torn from underneath you. Mr. Ramsey's statement is honorable. Remember, he has not been convicted yet.
Posted By Anonymous Carri Baldwin, Yukon, Ok : 12:43 AM ET
I find it hard to believe you only bet a quarter!
Posted By Anonymous AMA, Sac, CA : 12:49 AM ET
I have believed from minute one in the innocence of this family. The older I get the more I know that it can take a long time to shine a light on deep, true evil - a lesson for all. Having also been through chemotherapy for three years, I believe that the stress of the treatment in combination of being falsely accused was a lethal combination for Mrs. Ramsey. And the burden of her death should rest on the conscience, or lack thereof, of anyone who falsely accused the family for personal fame- disgusting.
Posted By Anonymous b moor baltimore md : 12:56 AM ET
I really feel sorry for her parents. Without any specific reason, the strong suspicion of killing her had been put on them.
I hope that JonBenet Ramsey and her mother can rest in peace finally....
Posted By Anonymous Koji, Tokyo/Japan : 1:00 AM ET
It will be interesting to see how this unfolds. I'd tape that quarter back up for a little while longer.
Posted By Anonymous dan moss transfer, pa 16154 : 1:19 AM ET
WOW! What a surprise. I hope they have their man. I never felt the Ramsey's were guilty and what a horrible life they had after the loss of their daughter. I hope the prosecution has their act together. Justice for the Ramsey's is way overdue and bittersweet at that.
Posted By Anonymous Ginger, Colby, Ks : 1:21 AM ET
We lived in Boulder down the hill from the Ramsey's in 96 when this horrible crime took place. I could see immediately that the Boulder Police had no clue how to handle a case such as this. The arrogance displayed was especially frustrating considering the eneptness, that was quite apparent. They should be ashamed.

I was quite sure immediately that these people did not do this. Yet my wife thought completely the opposite and we argued it for years.

I believe it is the never ending suspicion as well as the tragedy itself that finally did Patsy in. Imagine losing your precious daughter in such a way, and then being cast as the villan by so many for the rest of your life. And one can only imagine how John has felt through all this, and that being the second daughter he lost in tragedy. I think the original Boulder investigators (book writers and all) owe John Ramsey and his family a huge apology for the actions that they took.
Posted By Anonymous Rob Adelman, Eden Praire, MN : 2:00 AM ET
Finally, the Ramseys have been vindicated. And we're all guilty or share the blame for having looked in their direction as to who is responsible for Jon Bennet's death. There's an important lesson here---we should not judge anyone on mere suspicion. I sympathize with the Ramsey family, for the pain and suffering they have experienced in the last 10 years. And for deeming them as the likely suspects.
Posted By Anonymous Jess Matubis, Manila, Philioppines : 5:51 AM ET
wow, stirring and ridiculous. You've got the bottom line right. It was a little girl. She died. One of those stories you wish never happened. I wish I could do more than ruminate.
Posted By Anonymous matt martinez, Austin Texas : 5:57 AM ET
I'm amazed that a suspect has been taken into custody for death of JonBenet Ramsey. Especialy since the Ramset family had already been tried and convicted in the media. As well as the with the poor handling of the original investigation.

I would just hope that the evidence that the Boulder police and DA have gathered is credible. I would like to see the presiding judge places a gag on this case to reduce the media pandemonium, out of respect to the family and to ensure a fair trail.
Posted By Anonymous Dan, Highland,NY : 8:44 AM ET
I hope to see the politicians, police, and district attorneys that so publicly accussed Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey of being involved back in the spotlight apologizing to them for their behavior. They should be hounded by the media like the Ramsey's were until they do.
Posted By Anonymous Beth Goldstein Wynnewood, PA : 9:21 AM ET
Interesting that you didn't mention how cable news organizations deserve much of the blame for leaving the impression that one of the Ramseys killed their child. cable news entities devoted hundreds, no thousands, of hours to the case, featuring an endless parade of lawyers, cops, and "experts" (who knew nothing of the facts) spewing their opinions. For cable, the only question was, which Ramsey did it? Once again, we see the damage from the endless speculation and pontification on which cable networks thrive.
Posted By Anonymous Mark Schwed, West Palm Beach : 9:45 AM ET
I do not believe that Karr is the murderer. There is something "fishy" about the whole matter. I would think most kidnappers take the victim from the place of safety. The case continues to be strange.
Posted By Anonymous Judith Simmons, Kettering, Ohio : 9:59 AM ET
What is the deal with the mass media, why do you all report on this case of Jon Bennett Ramsey? Why dont you just report events that matter in the world today, its so sad.
Posted By Anonymous Bob, Austin, Texas : 10:02 AM ET
I'm not at all sure they've "got their man". There is something very weird about this. I think maybe the guy has mental health issues and got fascinated by the case, enough to actually confess to the murder. I'm waiting on more details.
Posted By Anonymous Anne Tarrill, Washington, DC : 10:15 AM ET
As this story unfolds, I have a feeling it may be shocking and sad... Just watching the guy answer questions gives me the creeps... He seems so calm, of course he has had ten years to prepare for this day, if he is indeed the killer... If nothing else, it will be interesting...Maybe he's been writing a book these last 10 years...
Posted By Anonymous Sherry Sarasota, Florida : 10:38 AM ET
You are exactly right-first and foremost, JonBenet was a child who was the vicitm of a horrific crime. Too much attention was focused on criticizing the parents and sensationalizing the events around the murder. I have to admit, there was a time when I believed the parents were guilty. They were tried by the public over the last 10 years. I'm ashamed I ever believed that. What they went through is unimaginable. And I also never believed that anyone would be arrested. And I know he hasn't been convicted, but if he is, he should face the most severe penalty.
Posted By Anonymous Debbie, Baton Rouge, Louisiana : 10:41 AM ET
IF Mr. Karr is indeed the killer of JonBenet...thank GOD he is off the street. One question tho....if he was questioned early on in the investigation...could the Boulder PD not get a sample of his DNA then??? IF he is indeed found to be the killer...certain "people" owe the Ramsey family a huge apology. Let this be a lesson ... don't rush to judgment.
Posted By Anonymous TM, Las Vegas, Nevada : 10:45 AM ET
I worked in law enforcement for over 20 years, and the bungling of this case which led to the perpetrator being caught only after he made admissions implicating himself doesn't surprise me one bit.

The real tragedy is that the ineptitude of the police caused the parents to live under a cloud of suspicion for 10 years.

How could it happen? Cops are routinely sent to numerous training classes on how to find and arrest drug users and petty drug dealers and conduct asset seizures (which are a major source of income to many police departments).

Thus, we have created an incentive for law enforcement to focus limited resources on the never ending 'war on drugs' rather than being tasked with the job that really matters - properly investigating crimes and apprehending violant predators, child molesters, and murderers.
Posted By Anonymous Lynne, Reno, NV : 11:00 AM ET
I always believed that the Ramsays were innocent. It doesn't make sense that they'd be normal people for 30 or 40 or 50 years and then brutally murder their own child. When you scratch the surface, abusers always reveal a pattern of behavior. My own daughter was abused by a teacher and investigation showed a very clear pattern of aberrant and abusive behavior by the culprit over a period of many years and in every single situation we were able to examine. The Ramsays just didn't exhibit the repetitive patterns of behaviors inevitably demonstrated by abusers.
Posted By Anonymous May Piper, Chicago, IL : 11:05 AM ET
Is the crisis in the middle east over? Have we won the war against terror? Is the economy paving our streets with gold? According to CNN's coverage of this arrest, apparently so.

Another question: Were any non-white young girls slain in the last ten years?

According to CNN's coverage, apparently not.
Posted By Anonymous Gary, Bolingbrook, Illinois : 11:21 AM ET
Yeha, well, let's just understand that all of what this man is saying is, basically, nothing that has not been already seen in the news, several times over. If there is no DNA to connect this man to this little girl's death, then he may just be trying to sensationalize both the case and himself by claiming he did it. I've seen nothing yet in this story to actually connect him to anything more than trying to get himself noticed in the news, and frankly, everybody already has him convicted just because he said he did it. He had no prior offenses, and his ex-wife says he was with her in Alabama at the time of the murder. Everything he says sounds like he read up on the case, not like he actually performed the crime, right now.
Posted By Anonymous Catherine Chiola, Galloway, New Jersey : 11:24 AM ET
I'll tell you what really matters about this case - that 40 sex offenders lived within 2 miles of the residence and that the family could not keep their little girl safe.
As of yet, with what has been published and broadcast, I don't blame the Ramseys - with the exception described below - when it comes to the violation of their house and Jon Benet. It is extremely difficult in today's society to have a home safe enough to repel burglars.
But the absence of blame comes with the caveat of what relationship did Karr have with the Ramseys? How alert where they to friends and neighbors and their intentions toward their daughter?
It is unfortunate, but one can not be unwary or let their guard down with conditions the way they are in the U.S. A constant state of paranoi seems required to keep a child safe.
The Ramsey case illustrates the reason for registering sex offenders and keeping tabs on them as well as the need for educating children and parents about such dangers facing our children.
Posted By Anonymous Sam Adams, Sterling, VA : 12:42 PM ET
Hopefully they have their man, though things don't add up. There are people who are mentally ill who get so involved in the case that they need to be a part, no matter the consequences. Previously, he had been in contact with the man who was writing the book, as well as Patsy. He seems all too comfortable with his confession. Also, as one reader had commented, wouldn't a kidnapper bring the child outside? Especially before the abuse took place. No drugs were found in her body, contrary to what he says, and now the ex-wife has an alibi for him. Watching this unfold should be interesting. Lets not get our hopes up though.
Posted By Anonymous A.Stockman, New Hampshire : 2:24 PM ET
I agree that this may not be the guy, People who are actually saying that they have found the man are as bad as the people who acused the parents. Has this man even been charged yet? Has he been indicted? Has he been convicted? No. I think he comments look very staged and that he may just be crazy and obsessed with the case. He researched it so much. His ex wife said that He was with her, and if he is admitting to the muder, she wouldn't lie about that. It's not like she needs to protect him. It's very odd that all of a sudden this guy decides to confess. I don't buy it. People can just be mentally ill and confess to crimes that they did not actually commit.
Posted By Anonymous Christine, Albany NY : 3:13 PM ET
I agree it is the best quarter you ever lost. Yet the damage has been done to the Ramsey family. I for one am very disappointed in the orginal investigation of this crime. John and Patsy were guilty as charged from the beginning. They never got their day in court so to speak. Patsy escaped the years of finger pointing but John has to contiune to live with the past and what the future brings. If this person is found guilty when will John get back what was taken from him? My guess is never no matter what the out come is.
Posted By Anonymous Danni, Seattle, WA : 5:05 PM ET
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