There's another irony associated with the DNA that cuts even deeper. When John Mark Karr was apprehended, many were certain this was it, this had to be, finally, the intruder. I had strong doubts, as you might imagine. But one of the early news bulletins claimed his DNA had been tested and there was indeed a match. I was, very frankly, stunned. I couldn't believe it, but there it was, in black and white. After pulling myself up off the floor, I wrote the following note of apology to my favorite adversary, the notorious Jameson, a long time diehard Ramsey supporter:
Whew! There is a DNA match. AND a confession. That's gonna be pretty hard to beat. If he's a nutcase out for publicity, then how did he get his DNA to match? At this point my curiosity is stronger than my pride. I'm dying to hear this guy's story, because there are SO many odd things about the evidence that don't add up, intruder-wise. I do NOT like having to admit I'm wrong. But I will also be enormously relieved to learn this case has finally been resolved. And it will be a huge relief to learn she wasn't killed by a loved one after all. If the DNA really is a match, then it looks VERY MUCH like Lacy's got her man. How do you want your apology, Jameson, straight up, or on the rocks?Jameson was very sweet. (We usually got along pretty well when we weren't tearing each other apart.) She informed me that in fact there was not a match as the DNA had not yet been tested. The report I'd read was incorrect. She also had some doubts about this guys story generally. Whew, what a relief! But that's not the point of my story.
The irony has to do with the fact that Karr was indeed precisely the sort of suspect the Ramsey team had been praying for all these many years. He had it all. He was not an obvious attention seeker. In fact he'd been tricked into confessing by an email correspondent in whom he'd been confiding for some time and whom he trusted not to inform on him. He told this person that he had previously molested several little girls and that he had in fact murdered JonBenet during a tryst in which she allegedly cooperated. He said it was not intentional but some sort of accident. His story might have seemed preposterous under any other circumstances, but the intruder constructed by team Ramsey was already pretty preposterous, so why not?
Word got out that Karr had spent that Christmas with his family in another city, but when it turned out that none of the photographs taken on that occasion included him, it began to look like there might be something to his story. Then the DNA results came in. No match.
At this point you could almost hear the gears spinning around in DA Lacy's brain. For years the Ramseys had been insisting that this DNA was proof positive of an intruder, that it had to be the DNA of their daughter's attacker. After so many other red herrings had sunk beneath the sea, this was literally all they had, it was their last hope and they weren't about to let go. Their chief defender, "master detective" Lou Smit was equally convinced. And he had managed to convince Lacy as well. So this was it, the moment of truth. If she had decided to persist in the investigation of Karr, which at the time made sense -- at least for anyone still clinging to the intruder theory -- then she would have had to admit that the DNA might not be decisive after all. But if she admitted to that, then she'd be throwing the Ramseys to the wolves, they'd be up the fabled creek in their tiny lifeboat with nary a paddle of evidence left in their quiver (forgive the mixed metaphors, it's getting late and I'm tired). If she'd investigated Karr despite the DNA mismatch, and he didn't pan out, what then? She'd have been forced to look more closely at Patsy and John, something she very clearly did not want to do.
Thus, ironically, the DNA that was supposed to lead the authorities to the fabled intruder actually forced them to reject by far the most promising suspect they ever had, and in all likelihood ever would have. Once the DNA mismatch was revealed, Karr was summarily dispatched. Despite his confession, despite the likelihood that he had indeed molested other children and his clear determination to follow that same path, he was released. God only knows what he is up to now. No effort was made to investigate him further -- the now extremely embarrassing case was dropped.
I'm not saying there's any chance his story could be true and that he actually could have killed JonBenet. Nothing he said indicated he had the slightest idea of how he could have gotten into the house (he said he went through the window, but failed to explain how he could have done that without leaving clear traces of his presence) and he never made any effort to explain why he would have penned a 2 1/2 page ransom note, hidden the body in the cellar, "accidentally" clubbed her over the head or strangled her with a "garotte," etc. But in the eyes of the Ramseys, their defenders and the DA herself, all this didn't need explaining. Karr was goofy, the "intruder" must have been goofy, Karr was capable of anything and so was their intruder, so as far as they were concerned, he would have been perfect. But continuing the investigation in the face of a DNA mismatch was more than that creaky lifeboat could handle. Since the DNA absolutely positively had to be that of the intruder, and any other interpretation of that evidence would considerably weaken the credibility of the Ramseys, Lou Smit and Lacy herself, the perfect intruder was allowed to get off, scot free.
Ironic isn't it?