The man who once falsely confessed to the murder of child beauty contestant JonBenet Ramsey is now living as a woman and attempting to form a cult of little girls he intends to have sex with, his former fiancee said Wednesday.
Nineteen-year-old Samantha Spiegel made the disturbing allegations to TODAY’s Ann Curry in New York. She said she was once engaged to John Mark Karr and, under his sway, tried to recruit girls between the ages of 4 and 8 into a sex cult.
“His mission is to create a cult that he wants to call ‘The Immaculates,’ of little girls that would have sexual relationships with him and do whatever he wanted and just, like, be his little minions,” Spiegel told NBC News’ Jeff Rossen in a report that aired on TODAY prior to her interview with Curry.
‘This cult could happen’
It’s not clear that Karr has done anything illegal, but police in California and Washington state would like to talk to him. But they can’t find him: Karr is reportedly living as a woman under the name Alexis Valoran Reich and has a group of “minions” who help him stay out of sight by providing food and money and computers.
“I think I’m a victim of his, as a teenager under the age of 18. It wasn’t that long ago,” said Spiegel, who met Karr two years ago.
She said she began to look for little girls to bring to him. “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” she told Curry. “He was so persuasive. He’s very manipulative. It’s a family that he had wanted, and I didn’t want to get in the way of something he wanted.
“This cult could happen. It hasn’t happened yet,” Spiegel told Curry.
But Spiegel’s attorney, Robin Sax, told Curry that isn’t necessarily true. “Other people, we have evidence to show, are already actively engaged in this cult,” Sax said.
In 2006, Karr sparked headlines when, while living in Thailand, he confessed to the sensational murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey in Colorado 10 years earlier. Prosecutors flew him back to the States to check out his story.
Video: Ex-fiancee: I thought of bringing girls to Karr Although filled with chilling details, Karr’s confession was rejected by investigators when his DNA did not match DNA taken from the scene. He was dismissed as “a kook hungry for attention.”
Colorado authorities handed him over to Sonoma County, Calif., prosecutors on 2001 charges of having child pornography on a computer. Those charges were dismissed when it was discovered that the evidence against Karr had been discarded and no longer existed.
Sax said that people who recruit others into a cult and have had child pornography on their computer are not just seeking attention, but are dangerous. She noted that he has written very explicit material that he is trying to get published.
Police believe he’s living either in Seattle or in California, although a website he is said to control hints that he might be in another country. Karr/Reich was last reported to be staying in a battered women’s shelter in Seattle.
Under his spell
Spiegel told NBC News that she first met Karr when she was a 9-year-old fourth-grader at Convent of the Sacred Heart Catholic School in San Francisco and he was a teacher’s assistant. Karr left that job and Spiegel had no contact with him until two years ago, after his arrest in Atlanta.
“I was just thinking that he was misunderstood, that he was a victim of his childhood, of his family, of everybody, and that he needed to be saved in some sort of way,” Spiegel said.
When Karr asked her to recruit little girls for his “Kiddie Cult,” she readily agreed. “When I was on the street, I would kind of size up children, girls. I thought about him meeting my niece or other friends that had young children,” Spiegel said. “I think because of the feeling of having a family, and because I didn't think there was anything wrong with him having sexual relationships with children, it just seemed like it was healthy for him, you know? Like, why keep him from doing what he loves in some very sick way?”
“Uh-huh. Every day,” she replied.
Spiegel, who said she now understands that what Karr wants to do is wrong, said she never got to the point of actually recruiting a girl for Karr.
When she got engaged to the 46-year-old, Spiegel’s parents intervened and sent her to a rehab facility because of her drug use and her obsession with Karr, who has two previous marriages. One bride was 13 at the time of their marriage; the other was 16.
‘I will hunt you down’
Spiegel said she stayed in rehab for 18 months. When she got out, she said she contacted Karr again to help police trying to build a case against him and find him.
Video: John Mark Karr speaks She finally told him she could not help him, and Karr threatened her.
“If you cost me my little girls, I will hunt you down and kill you,” was one message she said he sent her. Another read, “I only kill the girls I love the most.”
To protect herself, Spiegel got a restraining order against Karr in a San Francisco court in April. But police can’t find Karr to serve the order.
Spiegel said that’s because Karr’s minions look after him and he moves around a lot, sometimes staying in homeless shelters and sometimes getting rooms through Craigslist.
Spiegel said she’s coming forward because she wants to alert other impressionable girls that Karr/Reich is out there and looking for fresh prey.
“This is something I would have liked someone to do for me, when I was in his grips, but no one was there to do that,” she told Curry. “I think it’s important for people to have awareness about what a person like John is capable of.”
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