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2006/08/18

超人のジャーナリスト・アイ 39 ジョンベネちゃん殺害報道 

  Mainichi_jon_benet_size6_2
  この夏忘れかけていた事件がタイから飛び込んできた。異常といえるほどの加熱報道も最近ではさっぱり陰を潜めたままと思っていたら昨日あたりは一斉にメディアが取り上げた。全米のマスコミが注目し、日本でも大々的に報道していた所謂ジョンベネ・ラムジーちゃん殺害事件である。だれでもあの美少女コンテストの優勝者・女王がこれまた数え切れないほど流された映像ーコンテストでステージ衣装を着て可愛らしく踊る姿ーの映像がまた、繰り返し流されていた。
  この事件は、米国コロラド州ボールダーで10年前の2000年12月26日に当時6歳のジョンべネ・ラムジーちゃんが自宅の地下室で殺害された事件だが、児童虐待、児童性犯罪とマスコミが騒ぎ、両親に疑惑の目がむけられ不可解で未解決の殺人事件だった。そんな中この6月には母親が(元ミスウェストバージニア)捜査当局から事件の解決の見通しを聴かされつつガンで死亡。一家はメディアの加熱報道に父親は失職、そして引越しを余儀なくされ今はアトランタ在住らしい。
  事件は10年振りにタイのバンコクのアパートメントで動いた。元小学校教師、ジョン・マーク・カー容疑者(42歳、男性)が8月16日に逮捕されたからだ。今日付の毎日新聞朝刊によると、この事件は捜査線上に浮かび上がって来たのは数ヶ月前、そして事件解決の発端になったのはジョン・マーク・カー容疑者からの一通の電子メール、しかも父親が容疑者と示唆したコロラド大学教授宛(教授はこの事件のドキュメンタリー映画製作者)メールだった。
「彼女を愛していた。彼女に会いに行くため家へ行って地下室に入った。誤って死なせてしまった。殺すつもりはなかった」。事件の鍵はこの地下室に入ったのは内部の者か外部の者かだったのだ。タイのバンコクで逮捕されたジョン・マーク・カー容疑者のテレビに映し出された表情は一見真面目人間そのもののような表情だ。
「米国に帰るつもりはない。事実に基づいた映画を作りたいので、映画会社に著作権を売りたい」とも書き送ってきたらしい。この男性の精神構造は一体どうなっているのか凡人の筆者には理解不可能に見えるのだ。また、もうひとつ、記事は伝えている。この容疑者の元妻の意見として、「私たちは事件当時アラバマ州に住んでいたので犯人とは思わない」と。これなど容疑者の発言と食い違うし、ラムゼー家との接点は、家族以外には分からない地下室にどうやって入ったのか、残された手紙の筆跡は、等々詳細はまだまだ謎が多いようだ。はたして事件の解決はどう展開するのか興味があるところだ。
  日本でも児童虐待、児童性的虐待の事件がかなり起きている。その度に犯人像は周りの意見を聴いた結果を集約、一見真面目だとの像を浮かび上がらせて、意外性を強調しているかのようだ。そして、的確かどうかは知る由もないが、必ず専門家、心理学者の分析、最近では元検事などのコメントが入る。この手の事件では大概肉親がその言動の変化に、周りがその変化への兆候に気付いていないことだ。と同時にメディアはすぐ話題性、視聴率の観点から硬軟番組を渡り歩き露出度を上げて行く。報道の自由の根底にある抑制された倫理が働いても良さそうなものだが。犯人ではないのに当初から犯人扱いで報道しがちなのだ。この方がボルテージもあがり、善悪のメッセージは見る方に伝わるからだ。このジョンべネちゃんの父親は米国のメディアに対し、「もっとも低俗な冤罪を作り出した」と弁護士を通じてコメントしているという。不可解な事件である。
【写真右:8月17日付毎日新聞より Jonbenét Ramzey ちゃん】  
この事件を伝える米国の新聞、The New York Times の8月18日付の記事は「ラムゼー事件の逮捕、更なる疑惑」の見出しで始まっている。以下はその記事の全文。

Arrest in Ramsey Case Presents More Questions

By RICK LYMAN and RALPH BLUMENTHAL
Published: August 18, 2006
Something about an anonymous e-mail message to a University of Colorado journalism professor in May, part of a voluminous four-year correspondence about the 1996 murder of JonBenet Ramsey, persuaded the professor to approach the police and led to the arrest of an American schoolteacher in Bangkok this week as a suspect in the girl’s killing.

John Mark Karr was escorted from a news conference in Bangkok on Thursday by Thai and American authorities.
The suspect, John M. Karr, surrounded by security officers, at first said nothing during a tumultuous news conference in Bangkok on Thursday, not even when the Thai immigration commissioner said Mr. Karr had essentially admitted to the murder at the Ramsey home in Boulder, Colo.

When reporters and cameras clustered around him, he finally said in a Southern accent, “I was with JonBenet when she died,” calling her death “an accident.” Asked if he was innocent, Mr. Karr answered, “No.”

But by day’s end, it remained unclear whether Mr. Karr’s confession was genuine or the product of a troubled, attention-seeking man who had already exhibited a fervent fascination in the sexual abuse of children in general, and in the death of JonBenet Ramsey in particular.

"There is a great deal of speculation and a desire for quick answers,’’ the district attorney of Boulder County, Mary Lacy, told an army of reporters on the sun-baked plaza outside the Boulder Justice Center on Thursday. “We should all heed the poignant advice John Ramsey gave yesterday. Do not jump to judgment. Do not speculate. Let the justice system take its course.”

A slender, pasty man with neatly cropped brown hair, a broad forehead and a narrow chin, Mr. Karr, 42, had his turquoise polo shirt buttoned all the way up, and he seemed almost impassive as Thai officers led him through the throng of reporters and photographers at an immigration and detention center.

“I loved JonBenet, and she died accidentally,” he said. But when asked how long he had known the girl or how he got into her home, Mr. Karr told reporters he had no comment.

The professor, Michael Tracey, who has made three documentary films about the case, said it took the authorities four months to study a flood of anonymous e-mail messages to him and figure out who was writing them, and where they were coming from. But he would not discuss the content of the messages, or say what it was about the e-mail message in May that caused him to approach investigators.

“I suspect someone in Thailand leaked that there were e-mails,” Mr. Tracey said. “Are there e-mails? Sure. But I’m not going to talk about the e-mails, and I’m not going to talk about what happened, and I’m not going to talk about Karr, for the simple reason I believe he has the right to be presumed innocent.”

In the 10 years since the murder of 6-year-old JonBenet in the basement of her parents’ elegant home, her ghostly, smiling and perfectly made-up face became a fixture of cable-news conjecture. Book after book dissected the crime and speculated on suspects. With Mr. Karr’s arrest, the unexpected prospect of a solution to the mystery has galvanized international attention and resuscitated, spectacularly, the dormant JonBenet industry.

But in the back of the minds of many who have followed the case was the nagging fear that this might not be the cathartic solution it seemed.

“It’s a wacky confession full of holes,” said Craig Silverman, a legal analyst in Colorado who has watched the case closely over the years. “If that’s all they’ve got, then they’ve got holes.”

Oliver Gray, a private investigator in Colorado Springs who was hired by JonBenet’s parents, said he did not know whether Mr. Karr was the right man, either. The truth will not be known until officials check Mr. Karr’s handwriting, to see if it matches a ransom note found in the Ramsey home the night of the murder, and then check his DNA, to see whether it matches that found at the murder scene.

“He could be just as loony as a tune,” Mr. Gray said.

Ms. Lacy, the district attorney, pleaded for patience in solving the slaying.

“Let us do our job thoroughly and carefully,” she said.

At her news conference, which lasted almost half an hour, Ms. Lacy declined to offer details about what Mr. Karr might be charged with, how he had come to the attention of authorities and what he might have confessed to after his arrest Wednesday afternoon at his apartment in the Tung Mahamek Subdistrict of Bangkok. She stared out at the dozens of television sound trucks that lined the nearby streets, amid a forest of spindly tripods and blossoming satellite dishes.

“There is much more work to be done,” she said.

Meanwhile, small pieces of occasionally contradictory information emerged elsewhere.

123Next Page »
Rick Lyman reported from New York for this article, and Ralph Blumenthal from Boulder, Colo. Additional reporting was contributed by Raymond Bonner in Jakarta, Indonesia; Nick Bunkley in Charlevoix, Mich.; Dan Frosch and Mindy Sink in Boulder; Brenda Goodman in Atlanta; Virginia Heffernan and Ben Sisario in New York; Carolyn Marshall in Petaluma, Calif.; Jim Noles in Birmingham, Ala.; and Scott Shane in Washington.
(Page 2 of 3)

In the Atlanta area, where the Ramseys once lived and where much of Mr. Karr’s family still resides, family members said there was no way he could have been involved. They speculated that the authorities had misinterpreted his interest in the Ramsey case as an admission of complicity. As far as they knew, Mr. Karr had never been to Boulder and did not know the Ramseys.

Skip to next paragraph
Related
Text of Ransom Note Found in Ramsey Home (August 17, 2006)
Audio: Interview With John Mark Karr (Associated Press)
Video: District Attorney's News ConferenceHe certainly had a deep interest in the case. Mr. Karr’s ex-wife and several members of his family said he researched the case intensely, ostensibly to write a book about it and about other cases in which young children were sexually abused and killed.

But there was still no clear connection between Mr. Karr and the Ramsey family, nor any indication of how he might have become familiar with the interior of the family’s home or known to ask for $118,000 in ransom, which happened to be the exact, after-tax amount of a bonus Mr. Ramsey had just received.

In San Francisco, Mr. Karr’s ex-wife, Lara Karr, told KGO-TV, the ABC affiliate, that he could not have committed the crime, because he was with her in Alabama, on the day it occurred. In Franklin County, Ala., school officials said records showed Mr. Karr had been at work there until the end of the term on Dec. 19, 1996, a week before the murder.

But a short drive north of San Francisco, in the Sonoma County wine country, the authorities had a different image of Mr. Karr, whom they had arrested on five misdemeanor counts of possessing child pornography in 2001. John Abrahams, the public defender who handled the case, said the pornography was found on Mr. Karr’s computer, but that his client was not suspected of producing the photos.

Mr. Karr was in jail for six months, lost his wife and his job as a substitute teacher in Petaluma, Calif., and was released under the stipulation that he stay off the Internet and kept clear of schools, parks, theaters, arcades or any place children might congregate. He was also forbidden to visit his three sons without supervision.

When he failed to show up for a court appearance in December 2001, an arrest warrant was issued, but Sonoma County officials said he never turned up and they had no further contact with him.

In 2003, for at least a short while, Mr. Karr apparently lived in Santa Rosa, a town where he had also briefly worked as a substitute teacher before his child pornography arrest. But at some point after that, he left the country.

In Bangkok, officials said Mr. Karr arrived in Thailand two months ago from Malaysia and had apparently been bouncing around Southeast Asia for a few years, seeking work as an elementary school teacher. He was in Thailand at least once before, in 2005. On Tuesday, the day before his arrest, he applied for a job as a second-grade teacher at an international school in Bangkok’s central business district.

And then there were Mr. Karr’s own words, in an interview he gave to The Associated Press. “It’s very important for me that everyone knows that I love her very much and that her death was unintentional,” Mr. Karr said.

He said that he had written to the JonBenet’s mother, Patsy Ramsey, before Ms. Ramsey death from cancer in June, and expressed his sorrow at what had happened to JonBenet, but declined to go into details about what had happened the night of her death.

“It would take several hours to describe, to describe that,” he told The A.P. “There’s no way I could be brief about it. It’s a very involved series of events. It’s very painful for me to talk about.”

In Bangkok, authorities said Mr. Karr had been nothing but cooperative since officers took him into custody. And they were not shy about discussing their private conversations with the suspect.

“My officer said that you are charged with first-degree murder,” said the Thai Immigration Bureau commissioner, Lt. Gen. Suwat Thamrongsrisakul. “He said, ‘No, not first degree, second degree.’ What does it mean, I don’t know? He said, ‘Second degree. It’s not first degree. It’s not intentionally.’ ”

The lieutenant general was asked what Mr. Karr had said about his obsession with JonBenet Ramsey.

“He just said he loved the girl,” he replied.

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Page 3 of 3)

Still, not much is known about Mr. Karr’s life. Though born in Georgia, where his parents lived, he was raised by grandparents in Hamilton, Ala., and worked as a substitute teacher in various Alabama school districts in the years just before and after JonBenet’s murder.

Skip to next paragraph
Related
Text of Ransom Note Found in Ramsey Home (August 17, 2006)
Audio: Interview With John Mark Karr (Associated Press)
Video: District Attorney's News ConferenceTwo years after the girl’s death, Mr. Karr enrolled in the teacher training program at the University of North Alabama. But before completing his course work, he was a student-teacher at Kilby Professional Laboratory School in Florence, Ala.

Administrators there scheduled a meeting with him to discuss complaints about inappropriate behavior involving girls in his fifth-grade class, but he failed to show up and soon dropped out of the university program, The Times Daily of Florence, Ala., reported Thursday.

JonBenet Patricia Ramsey participated in her first beauty contest just shy of her 4th birthday, winning the title of Little Miss Charlevoix on the Fourth of July in 1994 near the Michigan resort town where the Ramseys owned a vacation home.

Patsy Ramsey had been Miss West Virginia in the 1977 Miss America Pageant, and said she encouraged her daughter’s beauty pageant hobby because it gave the girl so much pleasure and drew mother and daughter closer together.

John Bennett Ramsey, who studied electrical engineering at Michigan State University, had three children from a previous marriage and married Patsy Ramsey, his second wife, in 1980. He built an electronics company, Advanced Products Group, in the couple’s basement in suburban Dunwoody, Ga.

In 1988, the company merged with two others and formed Access Graphics, based in Boulder, and he was named C.E.O. in 1991. The family moved into a brick Tudor near the University of Colorado campus.

At 5:25 a.m. on Dec. 26, 1996, a Boulder County dispatcher received a distraught call from Patsy Ramsey. “We have a kidnapping,” she said. “Hurry, please.”

A ransom note was found on a stairwell leading from the kitchen.

It was not until eight hours later, though, that Mr. Ramsey emerged from the basement with his daughter’s lifeless body in his arms, the police said, having found it in a remote, little-used room. She had been brutally beaten and sexually abused.

Very quickly, the parents fell under suspicion, partly because of the ransom note (the paper came from a legal pad in the house, and the writing from the Ramsey’s own felt-tip pen), partly because investigators initially said they could find no sign of forced entry and partly because of the Ramseys’ own behavior in the days after the killing.

They hired a team of lawyers, publicists and private investigators and gave only one interview, to CNN, before disappearing from the public eye. They resisted questioning by authorities for several months, and friends said the couple feared the police were focusing on them as the chief suspects.

On Sept. 15, a grand jury began hearing evidence in the case. It disbanded 13 months later without issuing any indictments. The JonBenet case was a national obsession in the months after the killing, dominating much of cable news and spawning a cottage industry of JonBenet authors, experts and pundits. It was back in full swing on Thursday.

“It’s still a tremendous mystery,” said Catherine Crier, a Court TV host. “You have all the components of a sadly, horrifically fascinating case. And whenever we do segments on the show, we do see a spike in the ratings.”

Much of the coverage has been skeptical of Mr. Karr’s confession in Bangkok. “Is he a guilty sicko or an innocent wacko?” asked Jeffrey Toobin, CNN’s legal analyst.

In Boulder, the former Ramsey home in University Hill sits vacant. Two owners have lived there since the family left it for Charlevoix, and it is up for sale again.

In Charlevoix, near the tip of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, Mr. Ramsey was believed to have left the area in a private plane. The arrest of Mr. Karr was the talk of the village.

追記。あれから約2年が過ぎた2008年7月10日、美少女コンテスト優勝者ジョンべネちゃん殺人事件に新たな展開。彼女の洋服などに付着したものからボルダー警察はDNA鑑定、その結果疑いがかけられていた父親のものとは違っていたと発表し、警察は父親に謝罪したという。すでに母親は2年前の6月に癌で亡くなっている。なぜ今頃DNAを鑑定しその結果を公表したか。果たして真犯人は誰か、謎が残る事件だ。(2008年7月11日 記)


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