At 2:37 am the CNN Breaking News Alert arrived: The suspect in the JonBenet Ramsay's murder, taken into custody earlier today, had confessed to the killing. American tourist and former schoolteacher John Mark Karr reportedly confessed to the crime under questioning by the Thai police. He had been trying to get a job in Thailand, also as a teacher.
According to the news conference, Karr had been under investigation for an unrelated sex crime when information linking him to the JonBenet Ramsay case led the police to him in Thailand. He was arrested at his apartment and did not put up a fight, going willingly with the arresting officers. He only questioned why he was being taken into custody. Karr was charged with 2 counts each of first-degree murder and kidnapping, and one count of sexual assault on a child. Pictured on MSNBC in a split screen, Karr remained straight-backed at all times and seemed almost eerily composed.
All three cable nets were live on the press conference in Thailand, led by Gen. Suwat Thamrongsrisakul, Chief of Thai Immigration police, and a representative of the U.S.
Immigration Customs Enforcement office (under the Dept. of Homeland Security). CNN took the feed from CNN International. From the accents at the press conference it was clear that there was a strong contingent of Western media there; at one point Gen. Thamrongsrisakul asked a Time magazine reporter to identify himself (after what qualified as a lighthearted moment).
Actually, strangely, the mood seemed rather lighthearted throughout, considering the subject matter: Gen. Thamrongsrisakul was a jolly fellow, all smiles, and he smiled through his comments, some semi-joking which earned a few rounds of laughter from the crowd (example: When asked if there had seemed anything suspicious about Karr, Thamrongsrisakul replied ""No - just a regular tourist - looked like you," which for some reason prompted a bout of sustained laughter). Similarly, the Time reporter asked if Karr had requested legal representation (no, he has not) and followed up with "Have you read him his rights?" in a dubious tone that provoked some more laughter, including the still-jolly Thamrongsrisakul. It was a tad jarring.
Following the press conference, all three networks returned to their regular programming — Fox to Greta Van Susteren, CNN to Larry King (interviewing Jon Bon Jovi), MSNBC to a Hardball reurn. However, Fox would have been the big winner here for people seeking more information on the case because Greta had addressed it earlier in her show — but, more importantly, the chryon below blared out the breaking news, making it current.
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