Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Value of Advocacy and Journalism

by Robin Sax

When it's used in relation to crime, the word “media” is often paired with such words as “sensation,” “frenzy," or even “tabloid media.” In the world of crime, getting “media” is a concept loaded with surprisingly negative connotations. Rarely do people acknowledge as beneficial the media's role in  justice and advocacy.

Why do some cases draw media attention and others fall by the wayside? For example, why was the case of Amber Dubois highlighted less than that of Chelsea King (both were missing/murdered teens in San Diego)? Or why did Natalee Holloway and Jon Benet Ramsey make constant headlines while the names of Mitrice Richardson and Mickey Guidry barely registered? We can certainly draw our own conclusions about these questions from politics, timing, socio-economics or just basic psychology.

But sometimes, it's to the media that we owe thanks for spotlighting an issue, a cause, or a case that needs some attention.

A particular case near and dear to my heart is the most recent involving John Mark Karr (also known as Alexis Valoran Reich). The name John Mark Karr may sound familiar to you already. Karr falsely confessed to the 1996 killing of child beauty queen Jon Benet Ramsey.   Diane Dimond’s article of May 10, 2010, “Help Stop this Man,” shows the true value of investigative journalism, as well as the power of using one’s voice to make change and seek justice. John Mark Karr, also known as Daxis, is now transgendered and assuming the name Alexis Valoran Reich (yes, as in the Third Reich!). He is reportedly living in a woman's homeless shelter in Seattle and seeking a teaching or nanny job. And he has a new victim.

On her site, Dimond shares her opinions, praise or criticism on urgent stories. As she says, she “holds a mirror up to our society and asks you to form your own opinion. It’s a complicated world out there, full of situations of good versus evil, right versus wrong. My job is point them out.” But this time she took it to another level. She wrote on  May 10: “Today I want to ignite a nationwide manhunt. John Mark Karry has got to be located and stopped!”

John Mark Karr is a very dangerous man today. He is currently on the loose and must be found. See wanted poster. Karr is the worst kind of crazy imaginable. He has convinced not only the public but also many law enforcement officials that he is merely delusional -- but I think that is calculated behavior on his part. This makes him especially dangerous. Karr is beyond a skilled manipulator. He has a Manson-esque personality and has been known to say he wants to be like Manson.

Samanthia Spiegel, a 19-year-old college student, was involved with Karr for a time and decided she wants nothing to do with him. Now he is threatening her, and she has had enough. The constant and controlling telephone calls and e-mail chats with Karr have driven her to file a restraining order in San Francisco. In the police report, she alleges Karr has threatened her life multiple times and continuously boasts of sexually exploiting children. Spiegel told police she is worried because over time she has revealed to Karr where she lives, what kind of car she drives and where she goes to school.

Karr has a group of cultish followers around the country who will do anything he asks. “I’m afraid they will come after me or anyone I’m immediately associated with,” Spiegel wrote on the last page of the restraining order request. She also lists her elderly parents as among those in need of protection.

We need to make sure we separate the history of the Jon Benet Ramsey case from what Karr is doing today with Samantha Speigel (and who knows who else!). We must find him and assess his current behavior and the evidence against him. Karr himself asserts that he is a pedophile. He clearly has made many threats that warrant our concern.

And I am not alone in these feelings – as evidenced by this is comment on Diane Dimond’s blog:
This John Karr story is the best and most important story you have done in the 2 decades I have known you. As a father, this story scares the hell out of me. As a man and a human being, it appalls me. You have, again, exposed an urgent, pressing story that needs the attention of the police, the authorities, and the media. Your reporting provides a valuable service, and it seems at times that you are doing God’s work. Thank you, Jerry
Let's all prove the value of journalism by helping to advocate for Samantha Spiegel’s safety and locate John Mark Karr. More information online at


Anonymous said...

Not trying to be a jerk here, but I'm confused. Are you trying to find which Seattle homeless shelter he is in? If you know his name, couldn't he be located by calling the shelters? Probably not that simple.

Also, couldn't he be traced via phone records and internet IP address from the threatening calls and emails he made to Samantha Spiegel?

He is one freaky guy, that's for sure. I don't blame the poor girl for being scared.

Delilah said...

In my opinion, John Mark Karr is one of the scariest of the serial pedophile child molestors! While many hide behind closed doors or under cloaks of darkness, he seems to relish his public position.

That he has transgendered only makes him more dangerous as he is able to present himself as a nurturing woman who may not be as suspect if hired to be around children.

I hope he is captured and isolated from society soon, before more children are hurt by him and his minions. Creepy isn't even the best adjective to describe what he's up to.