John Mark Karr: His Dark Past
John Mark Karr
08/18/2006 at 02:00 PM EDT
While the investigation of John Mark Karr, the suspect arrested Wednesday in connection with JonBenet Ramsey's 1996 murder, is still ongoing, some disturbing facts about his past have come to light, including the fact that he was twice married to teenage brides.
In 1984, Karr, who is now 41, married his first wife, then 14-year-old Quientana Shotts. "I got scared by his ways," Shotts told the Atlanta Journal Constitution on Thursday. "He never was real violent, just pushy." The couple's marriage ended after nine months and was annulled in March 1985, the paper reports.
In September 1989, Karr married his second wife, Lara Knutson, who was then 16. The couple have three sons.
Police in Sonoma County, Calif., where Karr had been working as a teacher, said he was charged in 2001 with five misdemeanor counts of possessing child pornography. He was jailed for six months, then released on the condition that he stay off the Internet and away from schools, according to the New York Times. He later jumped bail and failed to appear in court.
In October 2001, Knutson filed for a protective order to keep Karr away from her and their sons, citing his child pornography arrest, reports CNN. In her divorce petition, Knutson said when she married Karr she was unaware of his Internet habits or propensity for "kiddie porn."
In court documents, Knutson also stated that, in August and September 1996, an Alabama school district dismissed Karr from his job as a substitute teacher after complaints from parents that he had been "too affectionate" with children. (Bravell Johnson, school superintendent in Alabama's Marion County, confirmed that parental complains led to Karr's dismissal, reports CNN.)
Karr's father, Wexford Karr, told the Denver Post that his son had been deeply interested in the JonBenet case and had researched a book on the subject. He was also fascinated with the death of 12-year-old Polly Klaas, who was abducted from her Petaluma, Calif., home and killed in 1993.
Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy said Karr was arrested at approximately 6 a.m. local time Wednesday in Bangkok, where he was living and had begun his employment as a second-grade schoolteacher the day before.
Officials in Bangkok said he had traveled to the country – which is notorious for its child sex trade – five times in the past two years.