Tue, Aug 22, 2006 - Page 7 News List

JonBenet suspect arrives in Los Angeles

WINED AND DINED John Mark Karr was expected to spend the night in jail following his arrival in the US after a flight on which he quaffed wine, beer and champagne


John Mark Karr, the suspect in the killing of six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, arrived late on Sunday after a 15-hour flight from Thailand on which he sipped champagne, dined on fried king prawns and roast duck, and exchanged what he described as "small talk" with law enforcement escorts.

Agents wearing US Customs shirts met Karr as he left the jet ahead of all other passengers and the group disappeared from the view of reporters on the flight. He was later turned over to local authorities and flown by helicopter to a Los Angeles County jail complex near downtown.

His day of wining and dining over, Karr was expected to spend the night in a single cell in the high-security Twin Towers jail, where he will await an extradition hearing on a request to move him to Boulder, Colorado.

"He is going to be housed here in the men's jail, kept in isolation in a six-by-nine room with a bed, a toilet no windows and no phones," sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore told reporters awaiting Karr's arrival at the jail. "He'll get regular food. He'll get jail chow, he won't get king crab, I'll tell you that."

Jail guards would check on Karr every 15 minutes, said sheriff's spokesman Sergeant Brian Lendman. He was expected to be charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and child sexual assault in connection with the young beauty queen's 1996 killing.

Karr voluntarily returned to the US and was not handcuffed in his business class seat.

A hearing was expected to take place in Los Angeles within a few days, and if Karr agrees to waive extradition, he will then be taken to Boulder County, said Carolyn French, spokeswoman for the Boulder County district attorney's office.

The Los Angeles County district attorney' office had not received word of an imminent hearing, spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said.

"We've been presented with nothing," Gibbons said. "If that is going to happen, no one has notified our office."

Just before Karr boarded the flight, another bombshell emerged: Reports that he sought treatment at a Thai sex-change clinic.

Karr, dressed neatly in a red, short-sleeve, button-down shirt and black tie, was not handcuffed while being whisked through Don Muang International Airport in Bangkok. At a Thai Airways International departure gate, he talked amiably with fellow passengers.

The 41-year-old teacher sat in a window seat next to Mark Spray, an investigator with the Boulder County District Attorney's office. A US embassy official and an agent with "Homeland Security" on his T-shirt were also part of the escort party.

Before takeoff, Karr took a glass of champagne from a flight attendant and clinked glasses with Spray, who sipped orange juice.

Dinner on board, served on a starched white tablecloth with silverware, was one many passengers would envy. Karr started with a pate, then had a green salad with walnut dressing. The main course was fried king prawn with steamed rice and broccoli, followed by a slice of Valrhona chocolate cake for dessert. Karr drank a beer, crushing the can with his hands when it was empty, then moved on to a glass of French chardonnay with his main course.

He later dined on roast duck with soy sauce and yellow noodles, and for his third meal quickly ate a piece of pizza served with chocolates and a bottle of Evian.

"It seems odd to me. If there is an arrest warrant issued, he ought to be under arrest," said former Adams County district attorney Bob Grant, who was involved in the Ramsey investigation. "It is very strange. Whoever is in control of him ought to make sure he isn't doing things like drinking champagne."

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