John Mark Karr, the man accused of killing of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, kept children at a home day-care center he operated in northwest Alabama, the state welfare agency said Thursday.

The Marion County Department of Human Resources issued a license for Karr to begin operating a day-care out of his rural home in June 1997, said John Bradford, a spokesman with the Alabama Department of Human Resources.

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He said the sheriff's department conducted a background check before the license was issued and no problems were found.

Karr didn't receive any complaints before the two-year license expired in 1999, Bradford told The Associated Press.

"We do know he kept children, but it is really hard to get a handle on the number," he said.

Karr, 41, has said he was with 6-year-old JonBenet when she was killed in the basement of her home in Boulder, Colo., in December 1996, but he called her death an accident. Karr was living with his ex-wife in Hamilton at the time of the slaying.

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