Tuesday, August 22, 2006

John Mark Karr

Until today, other than doing a lot of reading and a little commenting at Huff's Crimeblog.us and Websleuths forum, I've refrained from blogging about the arrest of John Mark Karr, suspect in the murder of JonBenét Ramsey. With information accumulating and theories growing more and more convoluted, my head is whirling with piecemeal tidbits and fragmentary notions. So once again, I've decided to put together an entry as a means of setting my thoughts in order. Bear with me.

So far, we know very little about the evidence implicating Karr, except that he has confessed to being "with JonBenét when she died" and that "her death was an accident." Almost everyone considered Karr's confession kooky, especially when it was erroneously reported that Karr claimed to have picked JonBenét up at school, taking her to the basement of her Boulder, Colorado, home where he drugged and raped the six-year-old prior to her death. To anyone with a passing knowledge of the evidence, it's obvious that Karr's alleged statements do not match the most basic elements of the case. I, at first, considered Karr's statements to be deliberately misleading and boldly posted my opinion in one of Steve Huff's comment threads. My faith wavered as more information was published. Since that initial certainty, I've gone from having serious doubts about Karr's involvement and concerns with the Boulder DA's case to a renewed, though tenuous, belief that they may indeed have the right guy.

Boulder investigators apparently have in their possession four years' worth of email correspondence between John Mark Karr and CU professor of journalism, Michael Tracey. Tracey has done several documentaries on the case, in support of the intruder theory, but for many, his integrity is questionable. Karr, who has an obvious obsession with the little girl's murder, began the correspondence after a chance meeting in Paris with Boulder columnist, Michael Sandrock during the summer of 2002. It remains to be seen whether the allegedly secret details Karr confided to the professor have been tainted by Tracey's bias and perhaps inside knowledge of previously unreleased evidence. Notwithstanding, I have a hard time accepting the idea that the Boulder DA would take this course of action based solely on the content of those emails. Surely, there is more to the story. I have to believe that Mary Lacy wouldn't take her investigative team out on this limb, after all the embarrassment and criticism suffered by their predecessors, without something more substantial to bolster their case.

What has arisen from the overwhelming media coverage is some background information on the life of John Mark Karr. Speculation in regard to the psychology of the "wingnut" and how he might fit the profile of JonBenét's killer naturally emerges from there. I have no background in psychology, so my opinings have no more weight than those of the average Jane. Still, I can't help but take note of significant events in the development of John Mark Karr and how the impact of those circumstances seem to have manifest in a classic pedophile. I also notice some details that, coincident or not, bear some semblance to particulars in the murder of JonBenét Ramsey.

John Mark Karr has a history of involvement with under-age girls. At 19, Karr took a thirteen-year-old across state lines, lied about her age, and married her without the consent of her parents. The marriage was annulled some months later, to John Karr's disappointment. He then remained single until the age of 24 when he married 16-year-old Lara Knutson, with whom he had 5 children -- twin daughters who died the same day they were born and three sons. In the interim, he reportedly often drove his red DeLorean to the local middle school to flirt with young girls. Some would draw parallels between Karr's proclivity for under-age girls and his father's penchant for wedding younger women.

His father, Wexford Karr, had married Patricia Elaine Adcock on Aug. 21, 1958. He was 37 and she was 18, according to court documents.

John, who has two brothers, was born Dec. 12, 1964.

Wexford and Patricia separated 11 years after they married, and Wexford filed for divorce in 1973 in Clayton County, saying the marriage was "irretrievably broken" and that the boys were in his custody. His wife received a $5,000 mobile home and $125 a month in alimony, according to court papers.

Soon after, Wexford Karr, then 52, married a woman 23 years his junior, Susan Simpson. But his union with the 29-year-old burned out in divorce six months later.
At this point, I'm not willing to judge the elder Karr so harshly. Though his brides were 19 and 23 years his junior, respectively, they were of legal age of consent. Unlike his son, there are no accusations of pedophilia against Wexford Karr, and I don't mean to imply that he has any such tendencies. I do, however, wonder if the age disparity, as perceived by a young John Karr, gave him a sense of condonance of his own attraction to teenage and even prepubescent girls. He may have justified it in his own mind with thoughts such as these: What difference does it make if the girls are 7 or 16? They're closer in age to me than my father's wives were to him.

As related by a friend of Wexford Karr, John Karr's mother attempted to end her son's life in infancy.

John Karr's mother, Patricia Elaine Adcock "made a big round donut [of kindling] and put him in the middle of it," said George McCrary, 76, who said he has known Karr's father, 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 added.

Adcock was later committed to a mental institution. She died in 2000, according to an obituary in the Pittsburgh, Pa., Post-Gazette.
Knowledge of his mother's attempt to burn him to death had to have had a profound impact on him. Add to that the resultant institutionalization of his mom, and I'd say you have the makings for some serious psychological issues in John Karr.

Early on, followers took notice of the effeminate appearance of John Mark Karr, speculating that the odd intentation in his neck and apparent lack of an adam's apple, along with the semblance of breasts on an otherwise gaunt man, could be an indication that gender reassigment surgery was the purpose for his relocation to Thailand. Subsequent reports of facial hair removal and Karr's status as a patient at a Bangkok clinic bear that out. Missives between Karr and Professor Tracey also allude to gender identity issues:

At another point, Tracey wrote, “You told me once that your mother tended to raise you as a girl. This must have had a powerful effect on your developing sexuality – confusion maybe?”

Karr responded: “Michael, I will not discuss my sexuality as if it is a psychological disorder from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In my case, I disagree with that totally, and if this is to be the way we progress in discussing it, I might as well stop while I am ahead.

“On the other hand, if you would like to learn something about my sexuality on an intellectual, nonjudgmental, nontraditional and nonpsychological way, I would love to share. It would help you understand a lot about my connection with JonBenet and possibly about the case. Shall we?”
Others discount the notion that Karr's mother tried to raise him as a girl, citing her commitment to a mental institution following the attempted infanticide of John as a preclusion to any such opportunity on her part. However, the ABC article doesn't specify exactly when she was institutionalized, only that it was later. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article states that Wexford Karr didn't divorce his first wife until 1973, when John would have been nearing the age of 9, however the couple separated after 11 years of marriage. A wedding date in 1958 puts that separation in the proximity of 1969, when John would have been 4-5 years old. It isn't a giant leap to assume that the separation coincides with Mrs. Karr's institutionalization. Also of note is the fact that only two of the three Karr boys, Michael and John, are attributed to the union of Wexford and Patricia Karr. The third son, Nathaniel Karr, is currently 34 years old, according to recent articles, meaning he would have been born in about 1972, after the separation but prior to the divorce. John would probably have been a second grader at that time. The previously-quoted George McCrary reveals that Mr. Karr's relationship with his second wife probably began while he was still married to Patricia.

At the time of the alleged murder attempt, the Karr family was living in an Atlanta apartment complex that Wexford Karr owned, McCrary said. One of the tenants in that building was Susan Simpson.

"She'd watched the marriage go to hell," McCrary said. "And when it ended, she was there for Wex, and helped him through that hard time. He fell in love with her."

Wexford Karr and Simpson married. He was 52. She was 29. They lived together for several years before splitting up. [emphasis mine]

The elder Karr took his sons to live with his parents in Hamilton, Ala., where John attended high school, McCrary said.
In conjunction with the following quote from AJC.com, one can deduce that the Karr-Simpson relationship began prior to the dissolution of the Karr-Adcock marriage, and that Nathaniel Karr was a product of that relationship.

Wexford and Patricia separated 11 years after they married, and Wexford filed for divorce in 1973 in Clayton County, saying the marriage was "irretrievably broken" and that the boys were in his custody. His wife received a $5,000 mobile home and $125 a month in alimony, according to court papers.

Soon after, Wexford Karr, then 52, married a woman 23 years his junior, Susan Simpson. But his union with the 29-year-old burned out in divorce six months later. [emphasis mine]
It isn't clear whether the relationship began prior to the first Mrs. Karr's commission to an asylum, but even if it had, it probably wasn't conspicuous to young John until after his mother was sent away. What I'm getting at here is the issue of adultery and what John likely perceived as betrayal and abandonment of his mother, and effectively himself, by his father in favor of another woman and child, while John was between the ages of 4 and 9. That age range and the allegation that Patricia tended to raise her second son as a girl are both significant when you consider the fact that John now admits to identifying with young girls of that age. From the Journal Gazette article:

"Maybe I am not going back but have simply stayed consistent,” Karr wrote. “My peer group has not changed since I was a little boy, and girls were the people I was with always. Referring to them as a peer group is somewhat incorrect, but might also be the very definition of what they continue to be in my life.”
Prior to, and in close proximity of, the time of JonBenet's murder, Karr even began a website, Powerwurks.com, and pursued teaching credentials in an effort to gain access to children in his so-called "peer group".

Of further interest is that, apparently, only Michael and John were sent to live with their paternal grandparents when the brothers were 17 and 12, respectively. Nathaniel would have been about 4-5 years old at that time, and probably remained in Atlanta with his mother, Susan, closer to the boys' father. Another abandonment and perhaps reinforcement of the idea that younger children are more desirable? Nathaniel's reference to the elder Karrs as "the grandparents" reinforces the notion that he was not sent to live with them, along with his brothers.

My apologies to my readers, but I've lost my train of thought. I'll continue this entry later when I find time and inspiration, and after I have a chance to catch up on today's developments. My intention is to further relate what I've already written to JonBenét's murder. Stay tuned.

p/s: I warned you it was convoluted.