Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Killing of Polly Klaas

Police Probe John Karr's JonBenet and Polly Klaas Obsessions

John Mark Karr, the odd character who recently confessed to the media about being alone with JonBenet Ramsey when she died, was also obsessed with the 1993 murder of Polly Klaas. When authorities in Sonoma County, California raided Karr's Petaluma home at 2004 Chetwood Avenue in April of 2001 looking for child pornography, they found a copy of Polly Klaas' death certificate. Karr told detectives that he had letter from her killer, 52-year-old Richard Allen Davis in addition to five pornographic images on his computer.

According to published reports, Sonoma County sheriff's Lt. Dave Edmonds said Karr expressed an "apparent fascination" with Polly Klaas and JonBenet, and "presented ideas about what the murderers of Polly Klaas and JonBenet Ramsey must have thought and felt." Twelve-year-old Polly Klaas had lived with her mother in Petaluma at the time when Davis entered her home and abducted her.

John Mark Kaar
John Mark Kaar

Richard Allen Davis is now on death row in San Quentin State Prison. Police searched his cell on Aug. 17 and 18th, but found no evidence of correspondence between Davis and Karr. While the prison monitors incoming and outgoing mail from death row inmates, the mail is only monitored for content. Davis has been incarcerated since November of 1993 when he was first arrested in connection with the murder of Polly Klaas.

Investigators wondered about some connection between Karr and Davis and also between the murders of JonBenet Ramsey and Polly Klaas. At this point in time, they have not found any indication that either man was part of a larger criminal pedophile network that targeted attractive girls for abduction, rape and murder.

JonBenet Ramsey
JonBenet Ramsey

Karr told detectives that he was planning to write a book on the Polly Klaas case. Laura Knutson, Karr's ex-wife confirmed that Karr was fascinated with both the JonBenet and the Polly Klaas cases and spent a great deal of time reading about both murders.

The residents of Petaluma were none too happy to hear about John Mark Karr's obsession with Polly Klaas. The brazen abduction and brutal murder of the popular 12-year-old deeply shocked the community. The last thing the citizens wanted was a potential connection to the infamous JonBenet Ramsey case.

For Polly's father, Marc Klaas, it was beyond disturbing. "This is getting creepier by the minute," Klaas told the Washington Post from Southern California, where he was campaigning for Jessica's Law, an initiative that would force many sex offenders to wear satellite-tracked monitoring devices for life and restrict where they could live.

Marc Klaas
Marc Klaas

After Polly's death, Klaas became an advocate for child safety, forming the foundation KlaasKids.

"I had gotten myself at a place in my life where I remember the good things," he said. "This is just dragging up the really hideous stuff all over again in about the most disturbing way you could even imagine."


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