BANGKOK, Thailand – The American suspect in the JonBenet Ramsey killing was articulate and polite but was dismissed as an English teacher at a prestigious Bangkok school for being too strict, a school official said Friday.
John Mark Karr, 41, remained under detention in an immigration police jail on Friday, a day after his stunning admission that he was with the 6-year-old beauty queen when she was killed in Boulder Colo., in 1996. (Full story)
He is to be transferred to the U.S. to face charges of first degree murder, kidnapping and child sexual assault.
Karr worked only two weeks before he was fired from his job as an English teacher in the elementary school at Bangkok Christian College, said Banchong Chompowong, assistant director of the school's English immersion program.
• Timeline: The JonBenet Ramsey Murder Investigation
"He was qualified to be a teacher. He had a diploma and has experience in teaching in Bangkok for some time," Banchong said.
He said Karr was so strict with his class of first-graders that parents had complained to the all-boys school, which is considered among the best in the city.
But Banchong said Karr was clean-cut, polite, articulate, did well in his interview and had a resume detailing experience in countries from the U.S. to Japan, along with other schools in Bangkok.
"John Karr came to us with a good resume and with credentials, but then we allowed him a trial (period) with students, we found he was too strict," Banchong said.
He gave some children "time outs," where he forced students to sit quietly and not participate with other classmates.
He taught only one class for the first two weeks of June right after the school year began. The school, founded in 1852 by American Presbyterian missionaries, has a total enrollment of 5,500 students in grades 1 through 12. About 100 native English-speaking teachers work at the school, which has a high teacher turnover rate.
"He's just a nice person — a nice man," Banchong said of his first impression of Karr. "And he takes his work seriously."
Banchong said that Karr also had taught at St. Joseph's Convent, another prestigious elementary and secondary Thai school. Officials there refused to talk to reporters.
Karr also taught for two months in early 2002 at I&S Language School in Seoul, South Korea, said Kim Sun-tae, an official at the Seoul Dongbu District Office of Education. People who answered contact telephone numbers given for the school declined to comment.
In Taiwan, the National Police Administration said Friday that Karr entered the country in August 2005 and left two months later. The NPA didn't know whether Karr taught during his stay and had no indication he engaged in any criminal behavior.
Karr said on Thursday that he was with JonBenet when she died and that he wasn't innocent in the case, but questions have been raised about some of his claims, including whether he sexually assaulted the 6-year-old girl or was even in Colorado at the time of the slaying.
Suwat, the Thai police general, said an officer who interrogated Karr asked him: "`Why did you have sex with a 6-year-old girl?'"
"He (Karr) said that at the time it was just a blur. He said they were lovers," Suwat told The Associated Press.
Suwat described Karr as "quiet and kind of strange." He said Karr wanted to go back to the United States to fight the case. U.S. authorities are preparing documents and plane tickets for the return journey, which could take place at any time, he said.
Boulder, Colo., District Attorney Mary Lacy refused to say whether authorities have evidence linking Karr to JonBenet's death at her Boulder home on Dec. 26, 1996.
"We should all heed the poignant advice of John Ramsey," said Lacy, quoting the girl's father. "Do not jump to conclusions, do not rush to judgment, do not speculate. Let the justice system take its course."