DENVER — The man suspected of killing 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was brought to Colorado on Thursday, even as the Boulder district attorney's office acknowledged in court papers that its investigation "is still in its very early stages."
John Mark Karr told reporters in Thailand, where he was arrested last week, that he was with the child beauty queen when she died in 1996; her body was found the day after Christmas. Karr was flown to Los Angeles on Sunday and waived his extradition hearing Tuesday.
On Thursday, Colorado authorities flew him in a state prop-jet from Long Beach Airport to a commuter airport in a Denver suburb. They did not announce when they were transporting him, in hope of eluding the media, but word leaked and TV helicopters followed the caravan of vehicles that took Karr, 41, from the runway to the Boulder jail.
Karr's arrest came after a University of Colorado journalism professor who engaged in a four-year e-mail correspondence with Karr alerted the Boulder district attorney's office in May. Prosecutors issued a warrant last week for Karr, a schoolteacher, but sealed the affidavit explaining why they believed he was responsible for the death.
Media organizations have asked a judge to unseal the affidavit. But in a filing Wednesday, the district attorney's office asked for the affidavit to remain sealed until Sept. 7 because the evidence it described had not been disclosed publicly.
Assistant Dist. Atty. William Nagel wrote that investigators only zeroed in on Karr five days before his Aug. 16 arrest and were unable to contact certain witnesses for fear that the suspect would become alerted to their investigation and flee.
Karr's ex-wife has said since then that he was with her in Alabama when the girl died, and his biological family says he apparently spent that Christmas in Georgia.
"This case is not yet in court," Nagel wrote. "Rather, it is still in the investigative stage."
Once Karr is booked, the district attorney's office must bring him to court within 72 hours to set his bail and ensure he has an attorney.
They can file criminal charges after that appearance. Normally, charges are filed within 48 to 72 hours of a first court appearance in Colorado, but a judge can waive that deadline.
Legal experts in Colorado are divided over what is likely to happen next. Some say they believe that, after additional investigation, Dist. Atty. Mary Lacy could conclude that Karr is falsely claiming responsibility for the killing and not file charges against him. But others say they believe that Karr's presence in Colorado means he will inevitably be prosecuted.
"There are not enough eggs in the world to put on the face of Mary Lacy if she brings this guy back without charging him," said Craig Silverman, a former chief deputy district attorney in Denver. "Nobody on the outside can be positive that this man actually did the crime, but I am positive he is going to be charged with the crime."