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WAS THERE A RUSH TO JUDGMENT?

Byline: PHIL PERRIER

EVERY once in a while, something comes along that forces all of us to re-boot our concept of what is real. John Mark Karr's confession of guilt in the JonBenet Ramsey murder is just such an event.

For nearly 10 years, all major media outlets told us that someone in the Ramsey family killed JonBenet. We were told that Patsy Ramsey had similar handwriting to that found on the infamous ransom note. We were told that the amount requested in the ransom note, $118,000, was the exact amount of John Ramsey's Christmas bonus that year.

Esteemed journalists wrote brilliant, compelling articles telling us why they believed that John or Patsy or even their 10-year-old son Burke had killed the little beauty queen. Patsy killed JonBenet in a rage because the child had wet her bed. John killed his daughter because he was a sick pedophile. Burke killed his sister out of jealousy because she got all the attention.

And we bought it. All of it. We wanted to believe they were guilty. After all, the Ramseys were rich. How many of us can relate to a man who gets a $118,000 Christmas bonus? Words used to describe the couple were ``arrogant,'' ``elitist,'' ``smug.''

Better yet, Patsy Ramsey, herself a former beauty contestant, dressed her little girl up in provocative outfits, with wigs and makeup; she exploited and sexualized her child. In most of our minds, this was all we needed to know.

They did things we did not like to their child; therefore, they must be guilty. Much like Congressman Gary Condit was accepted as the killer of Washington intern Chandra Levy, because he admitted having an affair with her. It simply had to be.

The only problem, Condit did not do it. Levy's body was eventually found in a park near her home where she had gone jogging. As it turned out, Levy was the second female jogger killed in that park by a suspected serial killer. Levy's killing was utterly random and senseless; it was not coherent, it did not add up.

Meanwhile, all along, the Ramseys say they suspected an intruder had entered their home on Christmas Eve 1996 and killed their daughter.

The very idea sounded absurd, even pathetic. What about the note? What about the broken paint brush which came from inside the house that was used as a garrote to strangle the little girl? Intruder? Please!

Then there was another case in which the family was suspected, until a handyman was considered as good as guilty. But in the end, it was an intruder who had abducted the child. Elizabeth Smart turned up alive and reasonably well over a year after her disappearance. It was the happiest news anyone could remember.

Now John Mark Karr is jarring our foundation making us rethink all we ``know'' to be true. Even making us wonder about whether O.J. Simpson killed Nicole and Ron Goldman.

Karr is also bursting another myth. Usually, the monsters among us look ordinary, but Karr is nothing short of creepy. If it's possible to look like a pedophile, this guy does. He is a pasty, effeminate little man with haunting eyes. My mother said he looks ``unfinished.'' I think I know what she means.

But before we all hop on the Karr did it bandwagon, let's remind ourselves of John Ramsey's own words: ``Do not jump to conclusions, do not rush to judgment, do not speculate. Let the justice system take its course.''
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Title Annotation:Editorial
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Aug 21, 2006
Words:586
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