John Karr's Bay Area Ties

Friday, December 08, 2006

A former schoolteacher who worked in the Petaluma School District is now in custody in Thailand in connection with the murder of JonBenet Ramsey.

The suspect, John Mark Karr, lived for a time in the North Bay with his wife and three kids.

41-year-old John Karr and his then-wife, Lara, once lived in Petaluma. She told us they were married back in 1989 and lived in Alabama until the year 2000 when they moved to Petaluma.

Karr taught in the Petaluma School District as a substitute schoolteacher from December of 2000 until April of 2001. The district says they had no complaints about him. Karr also spent time as a teacher in Napa during the same period, working to become a full-fledged credentialed teacher.

In April of 2001, Karr was arrested at a school in Napa on five counts of possessing child pornography. He did serve some time in jail, but was released on his own recognizance in October and later failed to show up in court. He is wanted in Sonoma County and a warrant is still out for his arrest for failure to appear on those charges.

His teaching credential in Petaluma was suspended, then revoked for violating the education code.

Lara Karr filed for divorce after her husband was charged in 2001. When he was allowed out of jail, it was with a lot of limitations and restrictions, including supervised visits with his own children and he was not allowed to be around other children. He was ordered to stay off the computer. Investigators say he was using the computer for child pornography.

His ex-wife also says her husband did a lot of research on the JonBenet Ramsey case and also on Petaluma's own Polly Klaas.

Lara Karr also tells us she's devastated and embarrassed by these murder charges, but she does not believe that her husband did it. She says that during Christmas season of 1996 when JonBenet Ramsey was strangled and beaten to death in Colorado, they were living in Alabama at the time and she was with him the entire Christmas season.

We spoke with a former neighbor of his, Sylvia Ross, who described him as "friendly, but divisive." She says that everyone in the neighborhood knew about the child pornography charges, but were afraid to talk openly about them.

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