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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Mark Klaas Speaks Out on Ramsey Case; Internet Sensation 'Snakes on a Plane' Premieres
Aired August 18, 2006 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A day of twists and surprises in our top story. The JonBenet Ramsey murder investigation. So let's get right to our "In-Depth" coverage, with what we know this very minute.
Tonight there are still plenty of doubts about the story being told by John Mark Karr. The man who says he was with JonBenet Ramsey when she died in 1996. However, a U.S. law enforcement source tells CNN that Karr has given investigators graphic physical details about the condition of her body. Details that have never been made public.
An attorney for the Ramseys says last May investigators asked JonBenet's terminally ill mother if she would be willing to meet with Karr. Patsy Ramsey was willing, if it would have helped the investigation, but she died in June.
And just hours ago, California authorities revealed they'd searched the prison cell are Richard Allen Davis. He's on death row for killing another young girl in the early 1990s, Polly Klaas. Kerr is said to be obsessed with the Klaas murder. The search of Davis' cell turned up nothing related to Karr, however. I'll talk with Polly Klaas' father, Mark Klaas in just a few minutes.
A U.S. government official visited Karr at a Thailand jail today, making arrangements to bring him back to the United States. That should happen by the end of next week.
And tonight, we have reporters standing by across the country as well as in Thailand. And Colorado, is where we begin tonight. Ted Rowlands joins us live from Boulder.
Tell us what you know, Ted.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, PAULA ZAHN NOW: Well, Carol, authorities are still not comment in on the strength of their case. But tonight we are learning a little bit more about why they may think that John Karr killed JonBenet Ramsey.
ROWLANDS (voice over): According to a U.S. law enforcement source, John Mark Karr knows graphic, physical details about JonBenet Ramsey's body. Something the source says very few people know about, and had never been made public.
But is John Karr really the one who killed JonBenet Ramsey? He says he was there when she died, but some legal observers, and others are very skeptical. Are there several potential holes in his story, and questions over how he would be able to pull it off. How did he get in and out the Ramsey house? And why would he leave a ransom note found at the scene?
CYRIL WECHT, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: He doesn't write the note in advance and he doesn't take pen and paper to write the note there. And then he tells us he that he drugged her. Then he tell us he raped her, physical sexual intercourse. There was no drugging, no chemical compound found in her body. There was definitely no rape.
ROWLANDS: John Karr's bizarre statements to the press and e- mails that he apparently wrote, that were published in a Colorado newspaper are disturbing. But is he really a child killer? Or a delusional pedophile who got himself involved in a high-profile case? Craig Silverman, a former Denver prosecutor, who's followed the case, says the boulder DA must have some hard evidence.
CRAIG SILVERMAN, FMR. DENVER PROSECUTOR: It seems to me that they must have the goods on this guy, more than just the confession. Solid corroboration, if not, this is massive prosecutorial incompetence.
COSTELLO: Well, let's talk about that statement, Ted. Explain more for us. Is the DA worried about that?
ROWLANDS: Well, obviously the district attorney here and investigators that have been working this case know what they're doing. And to second guess them without all of the evidence would be premature. The sense is they do have some hard evidence. The same questions that we're asking now, you bet they asked when John Karr first surfaced, and during their investigation.
How did he get in? What was the motive? And how did he get out without leaving a trace? One would have to think you just have to wait for the evidence to see and one would have to assume they have some solid evidence that we just don't know about yet.
COSTELLO: At least we would hope so. Ted Rowlands live in Boulder, Colorado, tonight.
It looks like a few more days before Karr is sent back to the United States from Thailand, so let's head to Bangkok now. Where Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin has been talking with the people who knew Karr there.
What have you found out?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Found out quite a bit, Carol. And you know the guy who brought suspicion upon himself remains locked up in this Central Immigration Detention Center, right behind me, waiting to go back to Colorado. But in the meantime, the more we learn about him from the people who knew him, the less they are surprised that he may be involved.
GRIFFIN (voice over): They tell the story of a loaner, a man who lived in a room here at Bloom's Guest House since December. No visitors, no friends. And according to this neighbor, a teacher himself, John Mark Karr's mood in the last few weeks had changed.
BIJAN SARDJAD, NEIGHBOR: I think he was very paranoid. I think he was -- he looked like he had something on his conscience, guilty about something. And he would never talk to anyone.
GRIFFIN: More details are emerging about the 41-year-old's life in Bangkok looking to be a teacher. One school showed CNN this job application from Karr. A school official said Karr seemed overly eager to be working with children, especially young girls. And Karr wanted to work alone without an assistant.
At one point the school says, messages sent from Karr's e-mails contained pornography. This school actually hired Karr as a teacher, but he was let go after two weeks because administrators say he was simply too strict.
Bryce Smedley, a teacher who knows Karr, calls him strange.
BRYCE SMEDLEY, TEACHER WHO KNEW JOHN MARK KARR: I'm not a doctor or anything, but I think he is someone who is a little mental unstable to be honest with you.
JOHN MARK KARR, SUSPECT: Her death was an accident.
GRIFFIN: It was this admission from Karr, two days ago, that bordered on the bizarre. After almost 10 years, this loaner in Thailand says he was with six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey when she died Christmas night 1996 in Boulder, Colorado.
The statement raised suspicions Karr was just perhaps looking for attention. But according to this Thai police official, Karr has insisted he was involved.
SUWAT TUMRONGSISKUL, THAI POLICE LT. GENERAL: I heard from my people that -- that he said that he had sex with the girls.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about drugging her?
TUMRONGSISKUL: Not drugging her. And my officers asked, how come you have sex with the girls? He said, I got (UNINTELLIGIBLE) love (ph).
GRIFFIN: The big question now, when Karr will return to Colorado and face charges. Homeland security official Ann Hurst met with Karr today and said details are being worked out.
ANN HURST, HOMELAND SECURITY: He's been treated well. And he's fine. Just takes time to make the necessary arrangements.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COSTELLO: The Thai investigator that you talked about, that said that Karr might have taken -- might have drugged JonBenet Ramsey. He seemed to contradict that in your interview. You can expound on that for us?
GRIFFIN: Two different days, Carol. And this is a Thai police official who's actually getting his information secondhand from his detectives, who are inside here talking with Karr. So I think it was just miscommunication of the force. He did kind of come out and straighten things out the other day, that he was misquoted, he said. Or maybe he just misinterpreted what those detectives said.
COSTELLO: Well, that could be very important. Because that would mean that Karr never said that he drugged JonBenet Ramsey.
GRIFFIN: Yeah, well the implication now that we're getting here, Carol, is that maybe Karr himself was using drugs. But, again, this really doesn't matter what this Thai police official says. It's what actually the detectives, the U.S. detectives who are going to be questioning Karr, and what Karr says to them -- have to say.
This is a lot of secondhand information coming out of this Immigration Detention Center with all of the media attention here.
COSTELLO: Drew Griffin live in Bangkok, Thailand tonight, thanks.
Earlier today on "American Morning", I spoke in length with one the people we just heard in Drew's report. A man who worked and knew John Mark Karr in Thailand. I started by asking Bryce Smedley for his impressions of Karr.
SMEDLEY: I guess my first impression of him was he just seemed to be a little awkward. And a little strange. And those first impressions didn't really lead to me wanting to get to know him a lot more. There's a lot of teachers there, but he seemed to be a little indifferent and a little aloof almost.
COSTELLO: You can explain more for us why you found him so awkward and rather odd?
SMEDLEY: I think he is someone is a little mental unstable to be honest with you. And I think the way he presents himself, the way he communicates with people, the way he carries himself. It's very easy just being a normal person to realize that there's something not fitting there.
You know, living overseas, you interact with a lot of cultures. A lot of Westerners and you get a pretty good feeling of normal behavior. And he just struck me as someone who was a little abnormal in his behavior.
His relationship with his students, seemed to be a little awkward. The reason he didn't get hired is because he was too strict. And, you know, he just didn't fit. And I know that sounds kind of rude, and don't mean it to be but I'm a pretty good judge of character and so are most people. And sometimes you just run across people who are a little quirky. And I think that really calls into question his admissions and what he's really admitting to, and it'd be interesting to see what he --
COSTELLO: OK, stop right there for just a second. Because I want to go back to, he was going through a probationary period, that he didn't make it through with this particular school where you met him.
COSTELLO: You said that he was let go because he was too strict. In what way was he too strict with the children?
SMEDLEY: The students were intimidated by him and they -- you know, students are very good judges of teachers. When you're in a classroom, if you come in unprepared, the students know it, and it doesn't matter what country you work in, students know when you're on top of your game.
They also know when you are a friendly person and not a friendly person. And there were complaints by students. Our school did a really terrific job. They really monitor teachers no matter who you are, or what credentials. And if they get suspicious and get alarmed, especially coming from students, they put an end to it because the welfare of the students come first. And it's very important to keep a very positive and safe learning environment, and they did that.
COSTELLO: A final question for you, Bryce. Because it sounds as if you don't believe Mr. Karr's claims. Is that true?
SMEDLEY: Do I believe him? I don't know. I think that the Denver police or the Boulder police, they need to let justice take its course and the legal system in the U.S. needs to solve this answer.
COSTELLO: Bryce Smedley who worked with Mark Karr in Thailand. I spoke with him for CNN's "American Morning", which you can catch every weekday starting at 6:00 a.m. Eastern.
More of our top story coverage in just a few minutes, but now it's time for our countdown of the top 10 stories on cnn.com.
More than 17 million of you logged onto today. At No. 10 on our list, the arrest of a suspect in connection with the killing of at least eight young women in Jaurez, Mexico. Edgar Alvarez Cruz was arrested in Denver on an immigration violation. Investigation made international headlines. More than 100 young women have been killed in or around Jaurez since 1993.
And nine, a plane flying from England to Egypt was forced to land in Italy because a bomb threat. The search of the aircraft turned up no explosives. Nos. 8 and 7, just ahead. Plus our top story coverage continues, with a deeper look at the suspect's curious past.
Children and John Mark Karr. A teacher obsessed with child murder. Married to teenagers. Could an extreme fixation get him mixed up in a notorious crime?
Plus, the truth behind false confessions. The surprising reasons people confessed to horrible crimes they did not commit. All that, and more just ahead.
COSTELLO: Tonight's top story the man who says he was involved in JonBenet Ramsey's killing. In a little bit, we'll look at some other famous confessions that turned out to be false.
And I will ask a top story panel of experts how they figure out if someone is telling the truth.
Our top story coverage continues with a puzzling question, was John Mark Karr anywhere near JonBenet Ramsey when she died? Karr stunned reporters when he told them he was with her at her death, and sources are telling CNN that Karr knew graphic, physical details about the body, that were never made public.
And there's this: A possible link between a school yearbook entry made by Karr decades ago, and a still unexplained piece of evidence found at the scene of the crime. Here's CNN's Brian Todd.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT, PAULA ZAHN NOW: Twenty four years later, four words that seem innocuous in a high school yearbook now seem eerie. 1982, John Mark Karr is in 11th grade.
At the end of an entry in a classmate's yearbook obtained by CNN, he writes the phrase "Maybe I shall be the conqueror." The first letters of those last four words, SBTC. The same as the sign off on the ransom note found in JonBenet Ramsey's home at the time of her death in 1996, 14 years after the yearbook entry.
We looked at that with John Hargett, who once ran the document section of the U.S. Secret Service.
JOHN HARGETT, FMR. SECRET SERVICE AGENT: I find it to be an interesting coincidence that notation appears on a document from the 1980s. And there's an SBTC appearing on the letters that were involved in this matter addressed to Mr. Ramsey.
TODD: But on pure handwriting comparison and analysis, Hargett says, don't jump to any conclusions.
HARGETT: Quite frankly based upon this, I see no similarity, really, between the SBTC appearing on the document from the 1980s and the one appearing on the letter.
TODD: Next, we ask Hargett to compare the ransom letter with Karr's recent application for employment in a school at Thailand, also obtained by CNN. When placing the application, written in all capital letters, next to the Ramsey ransom note, Hargett and other experts agree.
HARGETT: Quite frankly, you just can't really compare. Can't really make a meaningful comparison between capital letters and lower case letters.
TODD: Hargett believes the style of handwriting in the yearbook entry is likely not the style that individual would normally use. All the artistry and flourishes, he says, likely reflect a young person experimenting with a handwriting style.
Hargett and other analysts tell us they have long believed the author of the Ramsey note was trying to disguise his or her handwriting. But again, they say, all of similarities could easily be just coincidence.
TODD: The ransom note shows another inconsistency with Karr's admission. On it, the demand you will withdraw $118,000 from your account. The exact amount of money John Ramsey's received in a company bonus before his daughter was killed. Experts have long believed the only people who could have known that that were very close to the Ramsey family. John Ramsey says he does not know John Mark Karr -- Carol.
COSTELLO: I'd like to back to the signatures. Because if this is a coincidence , I mean, what are the odds?
TODD: The odds are very long indeed, but when you do examine the two pieces of writing, side by side, they are vastly different.
COSTELLO: Brian Todd reporting live for us tonight. Thank you.
COSTELLO: Just about everything we've heard about John Mark Karr points to a fascination, even an obsession, with children. He's hopped from job to job, teaching and caring for small children. He married twice, both times to teenaged girls. He faced child pornography charges in California.
And that fascination also came through in some of the e-mails that surfaced today, that Karr apparently sent to a Colorado journalism professor. Joining us now to look more deeply into them, psychotherapist Robi Ludwig.
These are fascinating.
ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Yes.
LUDWIG: It is, you get the heebie-jeebies when you look at this guy and hear more about this case as it unfolds.
COSTELLO: And Karr exchanged these e-mails with this journalism professor over a period of years. I know you have reviewed a lot of them and give me your general sense of --.
LUDWIG: Well, my sense was -- is that Mr. Karr really has identity issues, and sexual identity issues. And when I was looking at the interaction, it almost looked like a provocative, seductive, sexual e-mail. I wonder what, in his mind, his relationship with the professor was.
COSTELLO: You mean seductive toward this professor?
LUDWIG: I wonder if he had a crush on this professor. He liked the idea of engaging with him, being noticed, being seen. I wonder if there were some sexual identity and sexuality issues with this man. Because it just seemed like he was very intrigued by the professor, and performing in front of --
COSTELLO: Well, stop right there. Because I want to read this first one, and it may prove that -- I don't know. This is an e-mail from John Mark Karr. "I have found that you are easily overwhelmed, and when so, you seem to stop responding altogether. Please check your mail each day prior to Christmas. Don't stop responding now."
So he's clearly concerned that this professor will stop communicating with him.
LUGWIG: Doesn't that sound like a girlfriend or boyfriend that is having trouble? Like, why did you stop e-mailing me? I was looking forward to it. Please don't stop now.
So that's what sounds a little bit like he's sexually interested in this man, or there's some type of seduction going on.
COSTELLO: Oh, wacky. OK, let me read another one. This one says, "JonBenet, my love, my life. I love you and shall forever love you. I pray that you can hear my voice calling out to you from my darkness. This darkness that now separates us."
He wanted, the professor, to take this one to the Ramsey house in Boulder, Colorado, and kind of read it as an ode to JonBenet. I mean, what does this say about him?
LUDWIG: It sounds a little bit psychotic, doesn't it? You know, it's almost like a teenager that has a crush on a teenaged pin-up or one those pin-up women, or somebody on a magazine cover.
JonBenet, when you think about, it she was absolutely gorgeous. She would be a pedophile's dream or poster girl. It sound like an unrequited crush, and it sounds crazy.
COSTELLO: OK, so how can be like sexually attracted to a girl- child and also to a grown man, this journalism professor?
LUDWIG: First of all, I think there is a misconception. Just because a pedophile it doesn't mean that they can't be attracted to adults. You can be attracted to both. And you can also be bisexual when you are a pedophile. There are homosexual pedophilia, there are heterosexual pedophilia, there's bisexual pedophilia. It could be that he was sexually confused all over the place, and sometimes when people are psychotic -- I don't know that he is -- you are just confused on multiple levels.
COSTELLO: Well, he certainly seems to feel that he's misunderstood. Let's take a look at the next e-mail. He says, "I will tell you that I can understand people like Michael Jackson and feel sympathy when he suffers, as he has."
What do you read into the reference about Michael Jackson?
LUDWIG: Well, I mean that's like the king of having identity issues. And clearly having some sexuality issues with little boys, or likes being close to little boys. So these are the people, when you talk about somebody, you're usually talking about somebody that you identify with. So you're seeing a similarity in yourself.
COSTELLO: And might he yearn to be as famous as Michael Jackson and perceive himself that way.
LUDWIG: Well, who wouldn't want to be as famous as Michael Jackson. But the interesting thing is when somebody has pedophilia, it's very often linked with exhibitionism. Which means, look at me, look at me. And they often say, theoretically, the pedophile says look at how big and strong I am compared to you, who is so little and tiny, and overbearing. So this could all be very much linked.
And again just because he is -- might be a pedophile, doesn't mean he's guilty. He could think he's guilty of this.
LUDWIG: And actually not be. So I think it'll be very interesting to see what forensics reveal.
COSTELLO: OK. I'm going to skip one, and go to the last one, because I just want to get this -- because this one's really creepy.
COSTELLO: "Sometimes little girls are closer to me than with their parents or any other person in their lives. When I refer to myself as JonBenet's closest, maybe now you understand."
So what kind of relationship does that say that he has with adults?
LUDWIG: Well, pedophiles often feel impotent with relation to adults, which is why they can't have adult relationships very often. They feel like they can't be in control. And also with pedophiles, they sometimes have a distant relationship with their father. So they create this kind of pseudo-good father, where they give gifts and they seduce children. So this would be very much in sync with kind of the pedophile personality.
COSTELLO: Wow, interesting.
COSTELLO: Creepy. All of those adjectives.
LUDWIG: Especially if didn't do it, can you imagine.
COSTELLO: I just can't. It just seems so surreal. Thank you, very much, Robi Ludwig joining us tonight.
LUDWIG: Thank you.
COSTELLO: More top story coverage, but first we continue with our CNN.com countdown. At No. 8, a two-inch high column of chocolate that workers at a California candy company are calling a miracle. They say it resembles the Virgin Mary holding the Baby Jesus.
And seven, after all of the Internet hype, "Snakes On A Plane" is finally in movie theaters. The film opened today. We'll have a lot more on that a little later on. No. 6 and 5 in the countdown coming up.
But next in our top story coverage, how do investigators figure out when somebody is telling the truth? Even though John Mark Karr has confessed to being involved in the Ramsey killing, there are plenty of other famous confessions that turned out to be false.
Later I'll talk with child advocate Mark Klaas about why the arrest -- why the arrest in the Ramsey case led investigators to search the jail cell of the man who killed his daughter.
COSTELLO: We're continuing with our top story look at prime suspect in the JonBenet Ramsey murder. At his bizarre news conference in Thailand, John Mark Karr was asked if he's innocent, and he said, no. That may sound like a confession but no one is really sure yet.
An attorney for the Ramseys tell CNN that the family has received a number of e-mailed confessions from other people in the last decade. Those confessions never panned out. And take a look at some other notorious cases. It turns out the confessions are no substitute for the facts.
COSTELLO (voice over): In general, there are two kinds of false criminal confessions. John Mark Karr's doesn't appear to be the result the first kind, police coercion. But coercion is more common than you think.
It was claimed by defense attorneys in the 1989 Central Park jogger case, in New York. After a white woman was assaulted and beaten, police rounded up five black and Latino teenagers, got confessions and sent them to prison. But in 2002, a DNA test linked the attack to a completely different man.
A study by The Innocence Project shows a quarter of the people it's freed from prison through DNA testing actually confessed to crimes they did not commit. A 1989 study in Great Britain shows that false confession ranks second to mistaken identification as a cause of wrongful convictions.
Media sensationalism plays a major role in the second kind of false confessions. The ones by disturbed publicity seekers. It isn't new.
When aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh's baby boy was kidnapped and killed in 1932, more than 200 people confessed. The real killer never confessed. The 1947 murder of aspiring Hollywood actress Elizabeth Short. The so-called Black Dahlia case remains unsolved to this day, even though there have been at least 30 confessions.
Earlier this year, Zacarias Moussaoui testified that he was supposed to have flown a fifth hijacked plane in the White House on September 11, and that he and shoes bomber Richard Reid worked together on a hijacking plot. There no evidence for any of that. And Reid, himself, wrote a letter denying it.
Nearly a century of psychological analysis paints an interesting picture of people who intentionally give false confessions. They often do it because of a morbid desire for notoriety, to please and impress other people, or from a need to make up for previous, but unrelated crimes.
In deciding whether John Mark Karr is telling the truth or just telling a story, both DNA testing and careful interrogation will be crucial.
COSTELLO: We have put together a top-story panel to consider true confessions, false confessions and whatever it is that John Mark Karr is confessing.
Greg Hartley specialized in body language and is the author of "How to Spot a Liar." And Candice Delong is a former FBI profiler. Welcome to you both.
CANDICE DELONG, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Thank you.
GREG HARTLEY, AUTHOR: Thank you for having me.
COSTELLO: Candice, I want to start with you. The newest information we have comes from Ted Rowlands. He says that Mr. Karr had graphic, specific information about the condition of JonBenet Ramsey's body that not many people know, certainly not the public. If he didn't do it, how would he know this?
DELONG: Well, we need to know of course exactly what it was he said and what are the facts, which really the detectives know the facts and will eventually know what Karr said and they need to be compared.
He is obsessed with this case, to be sure. If he's not the killer, if he studied it as much as he said, you may be surprised where he got information. He also could be guessing about some things. He may be simply some the things he's said are coincidental. He also may be the killer and we'll know soon enough.
COSTELLO: And couldn't he get it off -- you know, they have these chat rooms?
COSTELLO: Couldn't he get something from there? Maybe he luckily ran across the real killer of JonBenet Ramsey.
DELONG: Well, perhaps he did. Or perhaps he has studied many other child killings and he has put together an idea in his head what he knows other killers have done, what he thinks he might do and he might have gotten lucky, but we don't know. I mean, we also know as Rowlands reported, the Thai police officer is now backing away from some things he said yesterday, that he said Karr said, is getting a little confusing here.
COSTELLO: But I understand what you mean. He initially said that Karr told him that he drugged JonBenet Ramsey, but now he's kind of backing off that. We don't know exactly what's true.
Greg, I want to go to you and talk about body language because when Karr was arrested in Thailand, he was dressed primly almost. I mean, he had a shirt on that was buttoned up to the neck and he had a pair of khaki pants on that were pulled up very high. What does that tell you?
HARTLEY: Well that really can't tell you anything. There's no absolutes in body languages, just like anything else. It's not a magic bullet. I can say three things with fair certainty about his body language.
The first is, there is a threshold of thinking as he starts to talk to the media. He says, "I was with JonBenet" and he quickly backs away. That indicates to me one of two things -- well, one thing's going to in his head. He is afraid by the response by the public. Now either that's because he's afraid they will not believe him or he's afraid of a backlash.
COSTELLO: Well let's look at his eyes right here because he's looking to the side and he's looking this way when reporters asked him how he got into the Ramsey home. HARTLEY: Well more importantly than his eyes are, look at wrinkle in his brow. He should know the answer to that and there is a distressed, "Oh, I didn't think of that," if you look at wrinkle in his brow when he responds to this.
This is the only time in his body language that occurs. That is always indicative of distress. Now the interesting piece is, as you said, he looks off to the right. I use baselining and it's very difficult in a 60-second clip to give you much of a baseline without good, proper questioning. However typically when people look directly, either left or right, they're accessing an auditory memory. And for that reason, I'm not sure your prognosis far-fetched. Maybe he did talk to someone who actually did this.
COSTELLO: Fascinating. Greg Hartley, Candice Delong, thanks so much for being on our panel tonight, we appreciate it.
HARTLEY: Thank you.
COSTELLO: Another one of today's surprising twists in the JonBenet Ramsey case is that the revelation that authorities searched the death row cell of the man who killed another little girl, Polly Klaas.
Next in our top story coverage, I will talk with her father, who's become an advocate for missing and exploited children. We'll also check in live with Ted Rowlands, who is monitoring developments in this case in Boulder, Colorado. And we have other top stories as well.
BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: I'm Brooke Anderson at Universal Studios in Hollywood, where "Snakes on a Plane" is playing a total of 15 times today.
ANDERSON: A lot of excited fans. It's been an online phenomenon for nearly a year, but will the buzz last? I will have that when PAULA ZAHN NOW" returns.
COSTELLO: Our top story coverage continues now on the questions emerging over the confession on the suspect in the killing of JonBenet Ramsey.
One of the first prominent voices to express doubt publicly about John Mark Karr's confession is Mark Klaas. You know him as an activist campaigning against crimes against children. He took on that cause after his own daughter was killed. In 1993, Polly Klaas was 12- years-old when a man with a history of violent crimes kidnapped her from her slumber party in her California home. She was strangled and her body found 30 miles away.
Today authorities searched the death row cell of the man convicted killing Polly Klaas to see if there was anywhere correspondence from Karr. They found none. But this week, one of John Mark Karr's ex-wives said he was fascinated by the Klaas case. Tonight, Mark Klaas says he's very skeptical about John Mark Karr's story. And Mark Klaas joins me now. Thanks for joining us tonight, we appreciate it.
MARK KLAAS, WWW.KLAASKIDS.ORG: Thank you.
COSTELLO: So when you heard that there was going to be a search of the cell of Richard Allen Davis, what goes through your mind?
KLAAS: Well, I'm just absolutely enraged that this guy would have the memory of my beautiful young daughter twisting around in the evil fantasies of his -- of his mind.
COSTELLO: What do you think they were -- do you think they really corresponded or is something that Karr is making up?
KLAAS: I have no idea what's true and what's not true in any of this case. I can tell you I never heard of Karr before two days ago, nor did any member of my family. I would hope that he has not been corresponding with Richard Allen Davis. But this guy obviously has a very twisted fascination with these little girls, whether he's harmed anybody or not.
COSTELLO: Yesterday you came out very strongly and said that you thought Karr was lying, that he didn't do it. But Ted Rowlands is reporting tonight that Karr knows information about JonBenet Ramsey's body that not many other people know. And there's some doubt now whether he actually told investigators that he drugged JonBenet Ramsey. Have you changed your mind?
KLAAS: No. I haven't changed my mind. We've also got an ex- wife who claims that she was thousands of miles away with him on the very night that he claims that he did kill JonBenet Ramsey.
But listen, what in the world could still be private after 10 years of public disclosures on the JonBenet Ramsey case? You know are there Web forums all over the world that do nothing but discuss this case.
There are many detectives that came in and out of this case during the course of the investigation. There are also other various scientists and other people that know. There are journalists that certainly know details of this case that the public doesn't know.
So I wouldn't be surprised that somebody as meticulous in researching the deaths of these little girls as Karr seems to be, could get his hands on almost anything. And let's not forget, I mean this guy's had a four-year correspondence with his professor, this journalism professor. Who knows what's gone on during the close course of that four years? Who knows what information that professor might know and and might have inadvertently fed to this guy, that's being regurgitated now. I think there are an awful lot of unanswered questions.
COSTELLO: Yes, and what could those questions lead to. I mean let's say that he didn't really kill JonBenet Ramsey. Might he be guilty of other crimes.
KLAAS: Well, he's obviously guilty of crimes. I mean he's got a twisted fascination with little girls and they arrested him in the child sex trafficking capital of the world. This is a dangerous, horrible individual who should never be in civilized company again, let alone be in the company of children.
COSTELLO: Well you know the sad thing is he was busted on child porn charges. He skipped out on a court hearing and he went to Thailand. I mean how does that happen? How do authorities not hunt him down?
KLAAS: I have no idea. I have no answer to that but I can tell you that based on the fact that he did have these charges hanging over his head from Petaluma. They could have discreetly brought this individual back, and gotten by all of this hullibalou (ph). We don't have to know all of these things. This is pure speculation at this point and these revelation are coming out minute by minute by minute and we don't even know where they coming from sometimes and now people are taking back things that they have said.
COSTELLO: It should get even more interesting as the days progress. Mark Klaas, thank you for joining us tonight. We appreciate it.
More top story coverage in just a moment, but first number six on our CNN.com countdown. The United Nations needs more European troops to fill out an international peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon. So far France has committed an extra 200 troops over the 200 it already has there. The U.N. is trying to find 3,500 additional troops in the next two weeks.
Number five, reports out of England that police investigating the alleged trans-Atlantic bomb plot have found items that could be used to make explosives. Three and four in the countdown just ahead.
Also, we'll take you back to Boulder, Colorado, for the latest developments in the JonBenet Ramsey investigation. And later, the top story in Hollywood. Is "Snakes on a Plane" a hit in the making?
COSTELLO: "LARRY KING LIVE" coming up in just a few minutes and Ted Rowlands is filling in tonight. Ted, who will be with you?
ROWLANDS: Well, Carol, we're going to continue the discussion on this bizarre case. And we're going to continue to analyze the suspect in this case. We're going to talk to a former minister of John Karr's, minister in Alabama. John Karr and his family used to attend church at this church.
We're also going to talk to a former neighbor of his. We'll also talk with Bob Grant, who is a former district attorney in this region, who's part of a task force early on. He knows a lot of the evidence in this case and we'll get his feeling on the reports that Karr knows some intimate details and see what he says about all that. That's coming up at the top the hour on "LARRY KING LIVE."
COSTELLO: OK Ted, I know you've been talking to many legal experts there. Let's say the D.N.A. doesn't matching, there's no match with this guy, Karr. Do prosecutors have a plan B?
ROWLANDS: Well, clearly they have a plan B in mind. And what that is, it could be one of many things. You know, a lot of people are arrested and never charged. If it comes back negative on the DNA, they may decide that OK, maybe we don't have a strong enough case and they don't follow through with it. It wouldn't be the first time somebody was arrested, but then was eventually let go.
Otherwise they could use the information that they already have, and they must have something or they wouldn't have arrested this guy, and move forward. It would be more difficult obviously, but that's a possibility.
COSTELLO: All right, thank you, Ted. We'll see you at 9:00 Eastern.
We're going to look at some other top stories right now, including a top entertainment story that's slithering into a theater near you.
We'll get back to our top story coverage in just a minute, but right now our CNN.com countdown continues with number four. Justin Timberlake is backing off of his criticism on American Idol winner Taylor Hicks. Timberlake had told a magazine that Hicks can't, quote, carry a tune in a bucket. Timberlake's publicist now say the comments were taken out context.
And number three is a growing controversy in the Middle East over a videotape showing Lebanese soldiers offering tea to Israeli troops in southern Lebanon. Lebanon forbids contact between its citizens and Israelis because it doesn't recognize Israel. Numbers two and one straight ahead.
When it comes to tonight's top story in entertainment, there's more than meets the eye. Next, how movie fans on the Internet influence the making of "Snakes on a Plane."
COSTELLO: Scary. Our top story in entertainment tonight, the premiere of "Snakes on a Plane," a movie so anticipated, just the title has turned fans into fanatics. The movie's been all the rage on the Internet for months. Entertainment correspondent Brooke Anderson is in Hollywood tonight where the film is finally out of the bag. So what was the response?
ANDERSON: Finally out of the bag. Carol, the snakes have finally been let loose in theaters after months and months of endless Internet attention. It cost about $35 million to make. So will all of the online hype translate into box office bucks? Or will this snake slither into obscurity?
ANDERSON (voice-over): It's a bonafide Internet sensation. But can the film "Snakes on a Plane" live up to its pre-release online hype?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SINGING)
ANDERSON: From song parodies...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are snakes on the plane.
ANDERSON: ... to comedy routines, the reptilian thriller with the self-explanatory premise immediately found unlikely supporters and Web fans who were inspired by the campy title alone.
XENI JARDIN, CO-EDITOR, BOINGBOING.NET: It started out as crazy, silly people with way too much idle time their hands, figuring out an infinite number of jokes that could come out a silly instant B-movie with a lame plot.
ANDERSON: A simple Google search for "Snakes on a Plane" yields more than 23 million results. But have some former fanatics developed snake fatigue? Xeni Jardin, co-editor of the technology Web site boingboing.net doesn't think so.
JARDIN: You can't kill snakes on a plane. Boingboing just seen dozens and dozens of submissions every day from people saying, I'm going to the screening, I'm going to go to six screenings in a row.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do as I say and you live.
JARDIN: Others on the blogosphere including popular gossip Web site defamer.com admit their once fervent coverage of the film is now weary. But "Snakes" star Samuel L. Jackson is far from burned out.
SAMUEL JACKSON, ACTOR: Snakes on a plane.
ANDERSON: The actor has been enthusiastically promoting this fanged film nonstop for weeks.
JACKSON: There's a lot of mystery in terms what is the movie like, is it any good? Is it as bad as everybody says it is? Will it be as exciting? Are the snakes scary? And people will go.
ANDERSON: Despite no advanced screenings for the media or critics, the press did finally get a look when the film hit theaters beginning late Thursday night. "USA Today" gives it 2.5 out of four stars, calling it "cheesy, campy, B-movie fun." The "Washington Post" says it's "Not a great movie, but it is a totally great experience." And DVDtalk.com calls it a "really, really enjoyable bad movie."
Quality filmmaking or not, some say this online phenomenon, if it proves successful in theaters, could inspire Hollywood to pick a different approach in the future. JARDIN: I think that this is studio and other studios will be watching that very carefully. You can bet that they'll be looking at this, try to understand that to see if they can replicate it next time.
ANDERSON: And for a full disclosure, New Line Cinema is owned by Time Warner, which is also the parent company of CNN. Now I spoke with some moviegoers as they were exiting the theater a little while ago and here's what they told me they thought about the film.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was really good. You know I didn't expect it to be as good, you know? I had read some of the things that some people said about it. But I really liked it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was excellent. It was a lot of fun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was much better than I thought it was going to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Oh, come on. It was much better than I thought it was going to be? Why would Samuel L. Jackson do such a movie?
ANDERSON: You know, he said he was attracted to this film, Carol, by the title alone and that's what a lot of the bloggers said as well. The said hey, the title is so cheesy, it's so campy, they couldn't help themselves.
But I actually saw the movie earlier and I want to say while I say I'm not the target audience, it didn't really bother me. I mean, at times it was so ludicrous, I couldn't even believe it. But it was action-packed, to be certain. And there were times when the lines were just so campy, so outrageous, it served as comic relief. It's opening in more than 3,500 theaters, by the way.
COSTELLO: It's a modern day swamp thing. Thank you very much, Brooke Anderson reporting live for us tonight. Time to wrap up our CNN.com. At No. 2, actor Haley Joel Osment facing up to six months in jail on charges of drunk driving and marijuana possession. Prosecutors say Osment's blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit when his car hit a mailbox last month.
And No. 1, our top story. A law enforcement source says John Mark Karr, the man who admitted to being involved in the killing of JonBenet Ramsey, knew details about the case that have been kept secret for nearly a decade. And the Ramsey case will be the focus of "LARRY KING LIVE" with forensic experts Henry Lee and Cyril Wecht coming up in just a couple of minutes at the top of the hour. We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COSTELLO: We have just enough time to recap the major developments in our top story. A U.S. law enforcement source tells CNN that John Mark Karr has given investigators graphic, physical details about the condition of JonBenet Ramsey's body, details that have never been made public, only a few people know about them. Karr is expected to be back in the United States by the end of next week. He's still in Thailand tonight. A U.S. government official visited Karr at that Thailand jail today.
That's all for tonight. CNN's coverage of the Ramsey investigation continues now with "LARRY KING LIVE."
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