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John Mark Karr Speaks Out; North Korea Preparing For Second Nuclear Test?

Aired October 16, 2006 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: John Mark Karr is talking tonight,. and we are listening.
Two months ago, we had never heard of him. Then came the confession. He claimed, as TV cameras rolled, that he had been with JonBenet Ramsey, the murdered child beauty queen, when she died. Suddenly, one of the covered cold cases in history was red hot. Of course, Karr's confession turned out to be a lie. DNA tests made that absolutely clear.

But so many questions remain. Earlier, Larry asked the former schoolteacher, now a free man, the obvious question. Has he ever harmed a child?

Here is what he said.


LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Had you ever had any problems with children?


KING: Nothing?

KARR: Absolutely not.

KING: So, all those stories were false?

KARR: There's so much, Larry, that is false.

KING: But that, you could tell me. You never had a problem.

KARR: So much.


KARR: So much that's false.

KING: You never bothered a child...


KARR: No, absolutely not. I have protected children. I have been -- I have been a teacher for -- this is my 10th year of teaching. I still call myself a teacher. I have had -- I have heard that some people say, well, he will never teach again.

KING: So, therefore, you unequivocally say you have never harmed a child and wouldn't, because you're a teacher, ever harm a child?

KARR: Right.

KING: So, then, the obvious question is -- you don't have to answer it -- is, why did you say you did?


KARR: Well, I am saying that I have never harmed a child.


KARR: I'm saying it right now.


KARR: I'm saying that I would protect any child who I thought was being harmed.


COOPER: You're going to hear a lot more from John Mark Karr -- tonight, all the angles, starting with Karr's troubled life.

His mother allegedly tried to kill him. Then came two marriages and charges of possessing child pornography. Tonight, John Karr also talks about the media frenzy, what it was like to face all those TV cameras.

And he's now a free man, but is he also a dangerous man? Could he be prosecuted again in the Ramsey case? Our panel of experts is going to weigh in -- all of that ahead.

When John Mark Karr was arrested in Thailand, there were reports he was seeking a sex change operation. Larry asked him about that, as well, tonight.

Here's John Mark Karr again, in his own words.


KING: John, are the reports you seek a sex change in Thailand true?

KARR: Well, you know what? If it was true, it's my choice. And that's what's another great thing about being an American, is that you're free. And anyone who would undergo a surgery like that, I have nothing but respect for those people.

KING: Have you thought of it?

KARR: You know, I might have.

KING: Nothing to do with...


KARR: If it was, it would be my own private business. And that's another great thing about being a free American, is that I have a private life.

And, so, I do have a private life. But, you know, if I made a choice like that or considered a choice like that, I would be proud of it. It wouldn't be something I wouldn't be proud of.

KING: Nothing wrong with it.

KARR: Absolutely not.

KING: Is Thailand a place where it's done a lot, to your knowledge?

KARR: Thailand is -- does have a reputation for having some of the finest class of surgeons available, and who -- and that's one of the things they do, is sex -- they do sex change operations.

KING: Do they require a psychiatric attention before they do it? I know they do in the United States. I think you...


KARR: Right. That's called standards of care.

KING: Right. Yes.

KARR: Yes. That -- yes, that's in place. They're very professional of...

KING: Have you ever had care?



KARR: Absolutely not.

KING: OK. You don't -- you don't get hormone replacements or something like that?

KARR: Like I said, Larry, you know...

KING: It's your life. I'm just asking.

KARR: ... yes, my life, my private...

KING: You put a condition on this interview. So, I'm trying to get through everything. KARR: I know. My -- my -- my private life is something that I would like to have remain private, but if that's what -- if I'm preparing for a sex reassignment surgery, then, it would be my decision, after great deliberation.

And it would be my -- my choice and it would be something that I would be proud of.


COOPER: Well, even after all that's happened, even after tonight's interview, it is hard to get a sense of who John Mark Karr really is and what he wants. Before his arrest turned him into a public figure, he was a middle-aged man obsessed with a murdered 6- year-old beauty queen.

The path to that point was full of troubles for him.

Here's CNN's David Mattingly.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): According to a longtime family friend, John Mark Karr's life was troubled at a very early age, growing up near Atlanta.

GEORGE MCCRARY, KARR FAMILY FRIEND: His mother, who was an evangelist preacher, had become delusionary, and felt that there were demons inside of her children, especially John.

MATTINGLY: George McCrary has known Karr's father for decades. He says Karr's mother needed long-term psychiatric treatment, after she tried to kill her young son with fire.

MCCRARY: She prepared a -- a pyre around him on the bed, and was going to light it, and -- and -- and burn the demons.

MATTINGLY: Karr was rescued, unharmed, by his brother. Divorce records say the marriage was irretrievably broken. And Karr eventually went to live with his grandparents in Hamilton, Alabama, where former classmates say he kept details of his family life quiet.

CINDY SHAW, FORMER CLASSMATE OF JOHN MARK KARR: I can remember, you know, he -- hanging out with his friends, and just smiling a lot and laughing and joking around.

MATTINGLY: In high school, Karr drove a bright red DeLorean sports car he got from his father, and, according to an old girlfriend, dreamed of becoming an '80s pop star under the stage name Damon Karr.

But those dreams were never realized. In 1984, Karr married Quientana Shotts. She was 13. He was 19. The marriage was annulled in less than a year. Shotts said in court documents she feared for her life and safety. But, in a recent interview, Shotts claimed Karr was controlling and had fantasies about little girls. Neither Karr, nor his attorneys have publicly commented on the allegations.

But, five years later, Karr married again. This time, he was 24 and his bride was 16. After a miscarriage of twins, the couple stayed married and had three boys. And, in 2000, the Karrs moved to California, after he lost jobs as a substitute teacher, due to undisclosed complaints from parents.

BRAVELL JACKSON, MARION COUNTY SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT: We felt like it was in our best interests that he not be allowed to substitute in our schools.

MATTINGLY: In divorce papers, second wife Laura Karr said her now ex-husband had been too affectionate with the Alabama students. They were divorced in 2001, after he was accused in California of possessing child pornography, a huge turning point in his life.

The charges have since been dropped. And Karr has said he has never harmed a child and would protect any child. But the incident launched Karr on a strange international odyssey, where full details of his whereabouts and activities have yet to emerge.

David Mattingly, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: Well, if anything, what we have heard so far from John Mark Karr only raises more questions.

Joining me now are Dr. Fred Berlin, an expert on sexual disorders and a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Lawrence Kobilinsky, a professor of forensic science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and Lisa Bloom, a lawyer and Court TV news anchor.

Appreciate all of you being with us.

I know you have all been listening to this interview.

Lisa, let's start off with you.

What did you think?

LISA BLOOM, COURT TV ANCHOR: What's fascinating, Larry, is -- I mean -- sorry -- Anderson.


BLOOM: Been watching Larry for the hour -- is juxtaposing his actual words, which were running at the bottom of the screen, with what he's saying now.

He said: I kissed JonBenet on the lips. I begged her, please breathe, please breathe. I'm a terrible person. I deserve to die. I take full responsibility for what I did to JonBenet.

COOPER: This is what he said to professor Tracey in a phone call?

BLOOM: Yes, in a recorded phone calls and in his e-mails.

And now he won't answer any of that. Now he's a victim. He's a victim of his own attorneys, who won't let him answer questions, right?

COOPER: Legally, though...

BLOOM: He's a victim of the press.

COOPER: ... you -- you can understand why he wouldn't answer questions?

BLOOM: Well, I can understand. But here he is giving an interview.

If he is completely innocent -- and he does appear to be -- the DNA does appear to have exonerated him -- why doesn't he talk? Why doesn't he answer questions? You know why he doesn't? Because he was obsessed with JonBenet Ramsey. He wanted to have sexual relations with her and with other girls. And that's in his e-mails.

He doesn't want to talk about that, because he wants to teach. And when he says, Anderson -- my God -- when he says, I approach children as whole people, I want to know the whole child when I'm teaching them, I want to teach for the rest of my life, that's scary, chilling stuff.

And that's why he's not talking about the real John Mark Karr.

COOPER: Would he be able to teach?

BLOOM: As -- at this point, legally, I think he could teach. I think schools can face civil liability if they hire somebody like him, given, you know, his public statements about what he wants to do with children. I think they would be taking a huge risk.

COOPER: Never been convicted of any crime.

BLOOM: Never been convicted, but schools have a responsibility to go beyond that. If you're hiring somebody who has written sexually explicit e-mails about little girls, who has been fired from other jobs because of inappropriate attention to children, they are exposed to civil liability, not criminal liability, but civil liability.

And I think he's going to have a hard time getting a teaching job.

COOPER: Dr. Kobilinsky, your thoughts on watching it?

DR. LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENTIST, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Well, I saw a completely different person than the John Mark Karr that was arrested in Thailand.

I mean, you could see it in his eyes. He had a very eerie look back then, in August. And now you see a person who is rather strong, in control of the interview, certainly lawyered up, fearful about possible future charges against him, and certainly very proud of the fact that DNA cleared him.

And that's a very interesting point. It's something that I really haven't discussed with you before, but, you know, we are making two assumptions here, number one, that there was only one perpetrator that killed JonBenet, and, number...

COOPER: And -- and that person left their DNA.

KOBILINSKY: That's -- and -- and, number two, that that perpetrator left a blood stain, or blood stains.

And, you know, those are assumptions. If you pull those aside and look at the whole big picture, then, that opens up a whole different situation.

COOPER: Dr. Berlin, I'm not sure how much you can comment on this case in particular. But when you hear past comments from John Mark Karr in those audiotaped conversations and some of the e-mails he has sent, what do you make of it?

DR. FRED BERLIN, JOHNS HOPKINS SEXUAL DISORDER CLINIC: Well, I have three concerns, from the psychiatric perspective. And they're only concerns because he doesn't tell us much.

One is, I'm concerned whether he has a delusional mental illness. He has a family history. His mother was apparently psychotic. And he may believe that he -- really believe that he was there when JonBenet died, in spite of a lot of evidence to suggest that he wasn't. So, that's the first concern. Is he mentally ill in that way?

Secondly, there are concerns about whether or not he has pedophilic interest in children, not so much based on what he said here today, but other information.

And, thirdly, it appears that he may be confused, in terms of whether he feels himself to be a -- a male or a female, issues of gender identity. So, there are a number of concerns that one would have about him, from the psychiatric point of view.

COOPER: Do pedophiles -- and -- and I'm not saying this man is, but do pedophiles, do -- do -- can they -- I mean, they -- they can justify their crimes; correct?

BERLIN: Well, there's often a lot of rationalization.

Now, again, all that we know is that he looked -- he -- we think he's looked at that kind of imagery. With all the attention he's had, there's not a single child that has come forward.

But -- but, certainly, they -- they often will rationalize -- a person with pedophilia will sometimes see a child as a -- a miniature adult, as though they're old enough to give consent, when obviously they -- in terms of their maturity, they're not. So, that kind of distorted thinking certainly does occur in pedophilia.

COOPER: Very briefly, Lisa, the case against him in California thrown out because they lost the computer.

BLOOM: Yes, what a tragedy. Allegedly, he had a lot of child pornography on his computer.

These would be visual depictions of little girls engaged in either sexually provocative poses or sexual acts.

COOPER: This is why...

BLOOM: Thrown out.

COOPER: ... he left the country in the first place.

BLOOM: Right. He left the country in 2002 to go to Thailand, while those charges were pending.

That's why...

COOPER: Because, during the interview...

BLOOM: That's why his wife divorced him, too. And that's why he doesn't have access to his own children.

COOPER: During the interview, he kept saying, well, I was out of the country for five years.


COOPER: He was on the run for five years.

BLOOM: Yes. Yes, as though he was just having a nice little vacation in Thailand. He was on the run for those charges.

And, by the way, Anderson, notice now he says, I'm not guilty.

What he said in Thailand, when the reporters were talking to him, are you innocent? No. He's not maintaining that he's factually innocent. He's not saying, I didn't do it. He never says that, just not guilty.

COOPER: Well, we will talk with Lisa, Dr. Kobilinsky, Dr. Berlin a little bit more in a moment.

Before John Mark Karr got on the private plane back to the U.S., the media frenzy had already begun. This is where we got our first look at him. Tonight, we're going to hear what it was like to face all those cameras -- more of John Mark Karr in his own words.

Also, now that he's a free man, where does that leave the JonBenet Ramsey murder investigation? Did his arrest set the case even back further? We will talk to our legal experts about that.

And 300 million Americans, a milestone the founding fathers probably never dreamed of -- what the number means for us all. That's a special edition of 360 at 11:00, coming up.

Stay tuned.



KING: Do you want to teach again?

KARR: I might, you know. I'll always be a teacher.

KING: Do you think it might be hard for you though? KARR: I don't know. I'm the kind of person who I believe America is a wonderful country and that people are innocent until proved guilty and I haven't been proved guilty of anything and I have a right to pursue what I want to pursue. At this time, though, I'm not really -- it's not something that is of interest to me.


COOPER: Well, we imagine that hearing John Mark Karr say that makes a lot of parents nervous.

As Lisa Bloom said just a moment ago, whether he could even get a teaching job, given his infamy, is a pretty big question mark.

Larry also talked to him about the past, that infamous press conference where we got our first look at John Mark Karr. Here's what he said.


KING: What was it like to be thrust suddenly in Thailand, is where it happened...

KARR: Right.

KING: ... in front of all those media, and flashing their cameras and the light bulbs?

KARR: When I walked into the area to meet the cameras, it was just a wall of photographers.

I was told later there were 150 photographers in this little small area. And they were just -- it was just a wall. They were -- they were all together. And they just started snapping.

And, then, all of a sudden, the wall started to just become a wave. And it just started coming toward us. And, so, they grasped me -- grasped me up, and we ran from the press. The press chased us. We got on an elevator and tried to avoid them. But, you know, what -- what was so difficult that you didn't get to see was the expression on the photographers' faces. It was just madness. They were hitting each other with their cameras.

They were hitting the officers around me with their microphones. Just -- it was just absolute chaos. And the look that they gave me was just something I will never forget. But I did remain calm during all that. I tried to maintain my dignity.

KING: Were you being repre -- any lawyers there with you?

KARR: That is something that I would love to say that I -- for -- for people to know. I was not represented by any attorney outside of the United States. The first time I saw an attorney was when I arrived in Los Angeles. So, I had no attorney to tell me, to give me advice, and to -- to protect my rights.


COOPER: Well, John Mark Karr is talking, but he's still only giving us bits and pieces of what is clearly a very troubled life.

You just heard Karr speak about the media frenzy in Thailand. Before that moment, few people really knew his name. Of course, all that changed once he stepped out of the shadows.


COOPER (voice-over): Paraded before the cameras during a bizarre press conference in Bangkok, his stare alone was unsettling. This was our first look at John Mark Karr, these his first words to the world.

KARR: I loved JonBenet, and she died accidentally.

QUESTION: Are you an innocent man? Are you an innocent man?


QUESTION: What happened?

KARR: Her death was -- was an accident.

COOPER: The statements were shocking. But, as we know, the biggest surprise was yet to come.

First, what was Karr doing in Thailand in the first place? Over the summer, he lived there on the ninth floor of this rundown apartment building in Bangkok. Although he kept to himself, Karr definitely made an impression.

BIJAN SARDJAD, FORMER NEIGHBOR OF JOHN MARK KARR: I think he was very paranoid. I think he was -- he looked like he had something on his conscience, guilty about something, and he would never talk to anyone.

COOPER: He found work as an English teacher. This school hired him. But Karr was fired after a few weeks. Administrators thought he was too strict with the students.

With his arrest in Thailand, the life of a drifter, and his alleged connection to JonBenet, became an open book.

QUESTION: What happened in the basement?

KARR: It's -- it would take several hours to describe that -- to describe that.

COOPER: Within a few days, Karr was on a plane, headed for Los Angeles, the first leg of a very strange journey.

The flight was surreal, the murder suspect surrounded by cameras and gawking passengers. On the plane, Karr was not handcuffed, as he drank alcohol and ate roast duck. If the authorities were trying to loosen him up and talk, it didn't work. Karr never spoke.

Karr's next appearance would be in a Los Angeles courtroom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The People vs. John Karr.

COOPER: He waived extradition to Boulder, Colorado, where he was wanted for the murder of JonBenet Ramsey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You understand that, by signing this form, you're agreeing to be extradited to Colorado?

KARR: Yes, Your Honor.

COOPER: Two days later, Karr was flown to Colorado, and then driven to Boulder. By this time, however, the case against him was falling apart. JonBenet was murdered the day after Christmas 1996, and Karr's father said he would never miss a Christmas with his family.

But there was one piece of evident authorities hoped connected Karr to the crime.

BOB GRANT, FORMER ADAMS COUNTY, COLORADO, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The answer in this case comes from the DNA. If the DNA is his DNA, then he was in that basement on that night, no matter what the family says.

COOPER: In the end, there was no DNA match, which gave prosecutors only one option.

SETH TEMIN, ATTORNEY FOR JOHN MARK KARR: The warrant on Mr. Karr has been dropped by the district attorney. They're not proceeding with this case.

COOPER: Today, John Mark Karr is a free man, but he may never escape the questions about his obsession with a crime he didn't commit and a little girl he never met.


COOPER: Well, the case against Karr is over. The search for a killer begins again.

From the evidence, the crime scene, to the pool of suspects, we will take a new look at the JonBenet Ramsey murder mystery, and continue the conversation with our panel.

Plus, alarming developments tonight out of North Korea -- is Kim Jong Il preparing for another nuclear test? We will have a live report -- when 360 continues.



KING: Why do you like teaching kids?

KARR: I like it for so many reasons. My approach to teaching and to working with kids is very holistic. It's not just about a fabulous lesson. It's also about making sure that they're just OK in every way.

Children are the most wonderful people I've ever found to work with. They're just intelligent and colorful and energetic and creative.


COOPER: That was John Mark Karr, explaining why he loves teaching children.

On an Internet Web site, Karr says he taught many kids, but there was one child he never met, JonBenet Ramsey. It has been almost 10 years since her death. And a case that suddenly turned hot is cold yet again.


KARR: I loved JonBenet, and she died accidentally.

QUESTION: Are you an innocent man?


COOPER (voice-over): We may never know why John Karr said what he said, but, for a few weeks, it appeared that one of the most famous murders of the 20th century was solved.

As it turned out, the charges against Karr would be dismissed. And what was suddenly a very hot case turned ice cold yet again.

To understand why this mystery continues to fascinate millions around the world, we have to go back to the beginning and a beautiful little girl. They are images frozen in time, a 6-year-old girl dancing on a stage -- her name, JonBenet Ramsey.

Christmas Day, 1996, the Ramsey family returns from a party to their spacious house in Boulder, Colorado. LAWRENCE SCHILLER, AUTHOR, "PERFECT MURDER, PERFECT TOWN": They came home around 10:00 p.m. JonBenet, supposedly, fell asleep in the back seat of the car. She was lifted out of the car by her father, and up the back stairs, which was a spiral staircase, to the second floor, and she was placed in her bed.

COOPER: Then, JonBenet's mother, Patsy, tucked her baby in. The Ramseys say it was the last time they saw her alive.

The next day, JonBenet's body was found in the basement. The crime scene was horrific. She had been beaten and strangled with a garrote. And, at the bottom of the staircase, there was a ransom note. It was the city's only murder of the year. And it quickly gained national attention.

The Ramseys said an intruder took their daughter's life and, in an interview with CNN, urged the community to be careful.


PATSY RAMSEY, MOTHER OF JONBENET RAMSEY: Keep your babies close to you. There's someone out there.


COOPER: But, from the start, the Ramseys were under a cloud of suspicion, even after a grand jury failed to indict them.

On "LARRY KING LIVE," Steve Thomas, a former police detective, confronted them about his theory.


STEVE THOMAS, FORMER BOULDER, COLORADO, POLICE DETECTIVE: I felt that Patsy is involved in this death, in this tragedy. And I felt it had become such a debacle.

KING: John, why did you agree to come on with Steve tonight?


KING: I mean, this is rather historic. I don't -- I'm trying to remember if there's ever been television like this.


JOHN RAMSEY, FATHER OF JONBENET RAMSEY: This man, as a police officer, has called my wife a murderer. He has called me a liar.


COOPER: In 2003, after a judge ruled that someone else most likely killed JonBenet, the Boulder DA cleared the Ramseys of the crime.

The Ramseys were confident DNA testing would bring justice. For Patsy, it never happened. She died of cancer this past June. Just two months later, John Karr would be paraded before the cameras, the father and former teacher stunning everyone with a shocking admission.

KARR: Her death was -- was an accident.

QUESTION: So, you were in the basement?

KARR: Yes.

COOPER: Karr was arrested, extradited, and charged with the decade-old murder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We may be -- and I say may be -- one step closer to a final resolution of the case.

COOPER: There was one big problem, however: evidence. Karr said he was in Boulder in December 1996. His family says he was with them in Georgia for Christmas. And, when Karr's DNA was not found at the crime scene, prosecutors pulled the plug.

SETH TEMIN, ATTORNEY FOR JOHN MARK KARR: The warrant on Mr. Karr has been dropped by the district attorney.

COOPER: Just like that. Instead of a closed case, the JonBenet investigation is back to wide open. And, in a cemetery outside of Atlanta, next to her mother's grave, a little girl remains buried. She would now be 16 years old.


COOPER: And it's that fact that sometimes gets lost in this tragedy, that a girl who should be alive today is not, and that her killer has never been brought to justice.

For more on the case, we're joined again by our panel of experts, Dr. Fred Berlin of the Johns Hopkins Sexual Disorder Clinic, Lawrence Kobilinsky, professor of forensic science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and Court TV news anchor Lisa Bloom.

Professor Kobilinsky, this case still boils down to DNA.

KOBILINSKY: I think that's absolutely right.

This is a very important case, clearly. And there's only two ways that this -- this may be solved. One is through a confession. And I hope there's not a repetition of what we have just been through.

And the second way is actually if the individual who did this recidivates and commits another crime. He's liable to end up on the DNA database. And that is one way to catch people that do these kinds of crimes. He may commit even a misdemeanor. There are states that will put people who commit misdemeanors on the database.

So, it's quite possible that this is not the end of the story, that DNA will eventually solve this through the FBI's CODIS database.

COOPER: But, Lisa, I mean, there are so many...

BLOOM: We hope so.

COOPER: There are so many details of this case which are -- are strange and kind of defy explanation at this point.

BLOOM: Mmm-hmm. Yes, the garroting...


BLOOM: ... around her neck that was tied to her wrists, the DNA which was found inside her underwear and under her fingernails, two critical places where it was found.

There's a Hi-Tec hiking boot -- that is a brand name -- footprint at the crime scene that has never been linked to anyone. So, it looks like it was an intruder. It looks like it was an outsider, someone with a sick sexual fascination in a 6-year-old girl. That's why it seemed to fit initially with John Mark Karr.

He knew so much about the crime scene. Of course, you could know so much by reading about -- any of the 13 or 14 books about it.

COOPER: But, then, that ransom note...


BLOOM: But he's the type. He's the type.

COOPER: That -- that ransom note, as well...


COOPER: ... it's another mystery.

BLOOM: Yes. And that ransom note that seemed to tie exactly with John Ramsey's Christmas bonus that he'd gotten that year. So the person would have had to know that or just made a very good guess. A person indicating they were going to kidnap JonBenet and then strangely, she's found murdered in the home. So many unanswered questions.

COOPER: Doctor Berlin, why does somebody confess to something that they had nothing do? I mean, why would a man like John Mark Karr talk about JonBenet Ramsey as if he knew her when there's no evidence that he did?

BERLIN: Well, there's lots of reasons. And sometimes people are just seeking attention. I don't think he sought the attention initially here.

I still am concerned as to whether, in his mind, he still believes that he was there when she died. He doesn't quite say that he wasn't. He doesn't quite say that the DNA was proof that he hadn't been there. He doesn't quite acknowledge that the fact that one of his former wife says he was somewhere else is really an acceptable explanation as to why he couldn't have done it.

So I'm very worried as a psychiatrist that in his mind he may really believe that he was there at the time of her death.

COOPER: And if that is the case, Dr. Berlin, this is probably not the last we've heard of John Mark Karr talking about JonBenet Ramsey.

BERLIN: Well, that's correct. And although I don't think he sought out the media attention, now that it's there, I think he wants to have some say about how he's going to be seen by others. And I think he's going to continue to make efforts to try to influence it.

It's also clear that his judgment is very poor. If he came on, talking today, thinking it was going to paint himself in a better light, I think he really doesn't understand how he's likely to be perceived.

COOPER: What do you make of the possibility that he was interested in a sex change? He certainly knew about it. He knew some of the terminology about it in this interview with Larry King tonight. There's that photo of him in a clinic in Thailand.

That -- I mean, that's a completely different mindset than someone who's interested in children. That's -- it's apples and oranges.

BERLIN: Yes, that's about gender. Do I feel myself to be male or do I feel myself to be female? It has nothing to do with the sort of partner either a child or adult whom a given individual would find to be sexually arousing. So you're absolutely right, two entirely separate issues.

COOPER: Lisa, do you think this is the last we've heard of John Mark Karr?

BLOOM: He says he wants to write a book. He says he's open to a movie deal. He's doing national interviews now. He says he wants his privacy. So I don't know what to make of this guy. This is the way not to get privacy, putting yourself out there again and again in the public eye. I don't think, unfortunately, this is the last we've seen of him.

COOPER: Dr. Kobilinsky, the case, obviously as time passes, it gets less and less likely that this case will ever get solved.

KOBILINSKY: I think not. I think as soon as this perpetrator commits another crime, that could be the nail in the coffin for this person.

BLOOM: Unless he's left the country or died.

KOBILINSKY: Well, it's certainly possible, but let's be hopeful that justice will be done.

COOPER: Again, should point out, John Mark Karr has not been convicted of any crime. He's a free man tonight.

Dr. Kobilinsky, Lisa Bloom, Dr. Berlin, appreciate your expertise. Thank you.

There are other stories to cover tonight, including breaking news now, growing signs that North Korea could be getting ready to do it again. Another possible nuclear test. Going to bring you the latest from the Pentagon.

And the changing face of America. Three hundred million people. Tomorrow we're supposed to hit that mark. How are we coping with a nation that is growing and changing faster than ever? A special in about half an hour. You're watching 360. Stay tuned.


COOPER: We're about to hit a new milestone, according to the Census Bureau. Tomorrow morning at 7:46 Eastern Time, the U.S. population will hit 300 million. Three hundred million Americans.

Coming up, we're going to bring you a special hour: "300 Million, Melting Pot or Meltdown". It's a look at immigration and healthcare, even the dreaded commute to work. Take a look.


JILL SCHAEFFER, COMMUTER: Actually best trip is an hour, hour and 15 minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the worst?

SCHAEFFER: Two hours, three hours, who knows? When I was in labor with my second baby, we were here. We got stuck in a major traffic jam.


COOPER: Three hours to get to work. She's not alone. Her story and more coming up in our 360 special, "300 Million: Melting Pot or Meltdown". That's in the next hour.

But we begin right now with a new development and then some breaking news. The explosion a week ago in a remote corner of North Korea, almost certainly was nuclear. That according to U.S. intelligence officials. And here's the breaking news part. New indications that North Koreans could be getting ready to do it again.

CNN's Jamie McIntyre has been working his sources. He joins us now live at the Pentagon -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, there's a saying in the intelligence community, tell me what you know, tell me what you think and make darn clear you know which is which. Here's what the U.S. knows. U.S. spy satellites are seeing activity at a number of suspected nuclear test sites in North Korea, including the one where North Korea a week ago set off an explosion which has now been confirmed as a nuclear blast.

What they think is that North Korea might be preparing for another blast. And that was something that was pretty much echoed today by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice when she was asked about it earlier today.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: We're watching it, obviously. And discussing with other parties, as well. I think it goes to say that that would further deepen the isolation of North Korea. And I hope they would not take such a provocative act.


MCINTYRE: What we reported here, based on sources Friday night, Anderson, was confirmed today officially by the director of national intelligence. Radioactive tests along the coast of North Korea have detected radioactivity consistent with a blast at that test site.

The U.S. now says it's confirmed that was a nuclear test. But it appears it was a very small one, not very successful. And that's part of what's leading the speculation that Kim Jong-Il might attempt a second test, because at this point he really hasn't proven that he can set off a successful nuclear device underground. And so that's why they're watching it so carefully.

COOPER: Jamie, if there was a second nuclear test or is going to be a second nuclear test from North Korea, how quickly would we know about it from after it takes place?

MCINTYRE: Well, again, it depends on how successful it is. The U.S. thought they would know, really, within an hour of two of this last test. But it turned out it was so small that they couldn't figure it out for about a week.

If they were to detonate a test in the four kiloton range, which is what North Korea told China, they intended to do originally, that would be pretty obvious pretty quickly.

COOPER: Jamie McIntyre, continue to monitor it for us. Jamie, thank you very much.

We'll bring you any new developments as warranted.

In a moment, some new polling on the political impact on North Korea and Iraq with just three weeks two to go until conversational elections. First, though, what may turn out to be the other big factor at the polls: scandals and allegations of scandal.

Today, another. The focus this time on Congressman Curt Weldon, a ten-term Republican from Eastern Pennsylvania. As CNN's Dana Bash reports, federal investigators are looking at him, as well as at his daughter.


DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A senior law enforcement official tells CNN the FBI searched six businesses and residences related to the Curt Weldon probe, including the Philadelphia home of Karen Weldon, the congressman's daughter.

Sources familiar with the inquiries say the Justice Department is investigating whether Republican Curt Weldon used his influence to steer clients to his daughter's lobbying firm.

Weldon insists neither he nor his daughter did anything wrong.

REP. CURT WELDON (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I would absolutely never use my position to help anyone in an unusual way, and my daughter would be -- my kids don't need my help. My kids are successful. They're talented. They do a good job.

BASH: Weldon travels to Russia frequently and is a vocal advocate for strong U.S.-Russian relations. The investigation appears to be focused on whether the congressman helped his daughter's firm win contracts with two Russian companies and two Serbian brothers, contracts worth a million dollars a year, according to McClatchy Newspapers.

One source who had knowledge of the inquiry tells CNN it's been under way for more than six months.

The Pennsylvania Republican, a 20-year veteran of the House, was already in a neck and neck race to keep his seat and acknowledged this investigation will hurt him. But he calls the timing three weeks before election day suspect.

WELDON: Assuming the Democrats will win control of the Congress, I think it doesn't take to take a rocket scientist to figure out that this district could swing control of the Congress.

BASH: Even before the investigation became public, Democrats were using this issue against him. A flier mailed to voters in his Pennsylvania district last week said Weldon helped get clients for his daughter.

Weldon also blamed Melanie Sloan, the head of a liberal-leaning watchdog group, for spurring the issue. Sloan did file a complaint with the FBI, but that was 2 1/2 years ago when questions were first raised by the "Los Angeles Times".

MELANIE SLOAN, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY IN WASHINGTON: We don't control what the Justice Department does. The Justice Department is investigating Curt Weldon. And I can't force the Justice Department to do anything.

BASH: Weldon did acknowledge under questioning the Justice Department is run by a Republican administration.

WELDON: Well, I understand that, and I'm not stupid. You know, and that's -- I mean, you know, I may have offended some people. I've been known to do that.

BASH (on camera): Weldon insists there's no need for this investigation because he took documents to the House Ethics Committee 2 1/2 years to prove he did nothing wrong and thought the case was closed. A call to that committee to confirm that was not returned.

Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.


COOPER: Well, most of the headlines these last few weeks have been about Republicans. One tonight concerns the top Democrat in the Senate, Minority leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

He says he is amending his congressional ethics filing to a more fully account for a $1.1 million Las Vegas land deal. He says in 2001 he sold property to a friend's company and got a stake in the firm. Three years later he profited when the company sold the land.

Senator Reid says he asked the ethics committee last week on an opinion on the deal but decided to amend his forms prior to the committee acting.

Straight ahead, the scandal, the war and North Korea, how are they moving the poll numbers? Some new results tonight.

And later, with the Latino population exploding, so is the debate over teaching kids in Spanish. That's part of our special coverage of America's population milestone: "300 Million, Melting Pot or Meltdown". Stay tuned.


COOPER: Three thousand coalition fatalities, we passed that milestone today: 2,700 Americans killed, at least 55 so far this month in what is looking more and more like a country tearing itself to pieces, Sunni by Sunni, Shia by Shia.

The numbers are daunting. Nearly 100 mutilated bodies in the town of Balad in just the last few days. Dozens a day in Baghdad every day every day.

Tonight new polling on what Americans think of the war, the president, North Korea and more.

Here to crunch the numbers, CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider -- Bill.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Anderson, as the problems in Iraq get worse, so do problems for Republicans here at home.

In August, we asked people whether the policies being proposed by Republican leaders in Congress would move the country in the right or the wrong direction. And the public was split. Now, most Americans say Republicans would move the country in the wrong direction.

But, do people have confidence in the Democrats? Well, increasingly yes.

In August, the public was pretty closely split over whether Democratic policies would move the country in the right or wrong direction. Now, a majority says the Democrats would move the country in the right direction.

Growing disillusionment over Iraq is shaping everything in this campaign, including people's views of the crisis with North Korea.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Leading Republicans now acknowledge that the situation in Iraq is bad.

SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: It seems to me that the situation is simply drifting side wise.

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: We clearly need a new strategy. Obviously by any measurement, we're in a lot of trouble in Iraq.

SCHNEIDER: Nearly two-thirds of Americans now say they oppose the war. In a new CNN poll conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation. That includes a majority of men and an overwhelming 70 percent of women.

Pessimism about Iraq is contributing to a continuing deterioration in President Bush's support. Sixty-one percent now disapprove of Bush's job as president, his worst rating ever.

The president's rating on Iraq is even lower: 64 percent disapprove.

But Mr. Bush's ratings on North Korea are not so bad: 47 to 41 percent approve. The president's approach to North Korea has been less bellicose.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So my administration decided to take a new approach. We brought together other nations in the region in an effort to resolve the situation through multilateral diplomacy.

SCHNEIDER: Sixty percent of Americans believe the situation with North Korea can be resolved using diplomacy and economic sanctions. More than 70 percent believed that three years ago.

Suppose diplomacy and sanctions failed. Would the public taking military action against North Korea? Three years ago Americans divided. Now they oppose military action. Why? Iraq.

More than 70 percent of Americans believe the war in Iraq is making it harder for the United States to deal with North Korea. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Bill, talking about North Korea, who do people blame for the current crisis?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, and there's been a debate here in Washington, as you know, between Republicans and Democrats over whether the Bush administration or the Clinton administration should get most of the blame for mishandling North Korea.

Well, we asked people how much blame each administration should get. Fifty-three percent said they blame the Bush administration either a great deal or a moderate amount for the problem with North Korea. Forty-three percent blame the Clinton administration.

So while most blame the Bush administration, considerable number also blame the Clinton administration.

COOPER: Bill Schneider, crunching numbers. Thanks, Bill.

We're going to shift gears now to the major milestone in this country. The U.S. population is going to reach 300 million tomorrow morning about nine hours or so from now. The fastest growing segment, immigrants, specifically those speaking Spanish. But what language should be used to educate their kids and our kids? Part of our special, "300 Million: Melting Pot or Meltdown" when 360 continues.


COOPER: Three hundred million people living in the U.S. The Census Bureau says we're going to hit that number tomorrow morning. And millions of those people are speaking Spanish.

The debate over the best way to teach their kids rages on with educators and political groups weighing in on the pros and cons of bilingual education. CNN's Gary Tuchman takes a look at the controversy as part of our 360 special, "300 Million: Melting Pot or Meltdown".


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At this public school in Bryan, Texas, children in this kindergarten class start their day with a pledge, two versions of the pledge.

This class has many children who've recently moved to the United States from Mexico. And they're in a class, that for the great majority of the day will learn their writing, reading and arithmetic in Spanish.

FRANCES MCARTHUR, ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT, BRYAN ISD: If we can teach them their concepts in the native language as they're acquiring English, then they don't fall further and further behind.

(MUSIC) TUCHMAN: An estimated 5 1/2 million children who speak limited English are now living in the U.S., compared to less than two million a decade ago.

With that in mind, an increasing number of schools are offering dual language immersion programs where initially up to 90 percent of the teaching is in Spanish.

Three of Bryan, Texas's, schools offer the program in which English instruction gradually increases. In this first grade class, 80 percent of the day is in Spanish.

Six-year-old Catia's mother speaks almost no English.

SONIA SOLIS ALDARADO, CATIA'S MOTHER: It's very important for her to be able to speak both languages.

TUCHMAN: Catia, on the other hand, seems to be catching on quickly.

(on camera) Do you think your mom should be in your class with you here?


TUCHMAN: What's the most fun part about being in this school?

C. ALDARADO: Homework and math.

TUCHMAN: Whoa, whoa, whoa, you're telling me homework is fun?


TUCHMAN: What kind of school is this?

(voice-over) The Bryan school system says this program works so well that native English speaking parents eagerly enroll their students in the class, too, in order to learn fluent Spanish.


TUCHMAN: But some, like the head of the English First organization say taxpayer funded schools in the U.S. should not be spending most of the day teaching in Spanish.

BOULET: Bilingual education has never worked. That thinking doesn't work. If a child arrives at school not speaking English, remedy the deficiency. Give that child a longer school day, some intensive English. Get them caught up.

TUCHMAN: Both sides in this debate site research to back their viewpoints. This proud teacher, though, is convinced it works in her class.

JULIA NORSWORTHY, BILINGUAL TEACHER: Because whenever students work together, the cultural and linguistic barriers are broken.

TUCHMAN: Here in Bryan and elsewhere these types of program will likely grow as America's immigrant population does the same.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for coming.

TUCHMAN: Gary Tuchman, CNN, Bryan, Texas.


COOPER: Well, in just a moment some other pieces of the picture. What should be done about immigration, legal and otherwise? It's not just a challenge for big cities. We'll visit towns now bursting at the seams with newcomers.

Also, the growing gap between rich and poor. A story of two kids facing vastly different futures.

And the problem most people see on a daily basis. All those people, all that traffic. How a growing population is changing how we drive and where we live.

All that and more on our special hour, "300 Million: Melting Pot or Meltdown." Next on 360.


COOPER: Welcome to "300 Million, Melting Pot or Meltdown", a special edition of 360.

Tonight we're on the brink of a milestone. Our population clock poised to hit 300 million. It's going to happen in about eight hours from now. The driving force behind the surge: immigrants and their descendents.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was born and raised right -- right here in Belton (ph), Georgia.

ANNOUNCER: A town now called Little Mexico, transformed by immigration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't know when to quit. They just keep on coming.

ANNOUNCER: She wants the old days back. Why that would be the death of the town.

Booming population, 46 million Americans without health insurance, many of them middle class. Just an illness away from disaster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to be the breadwinner and I want to be the provider, but in this system that we exist today, it's hard.

ANNOUNCER: And commutes from hell. Long hours behind the wheel and getting longer. Why we're driving so hard for the American dream.

Across the country and around the world, this is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, "300 Million: Melting Pot or Meltdown". Reporting from CNN's New York studios, here's Anderson Cooper.


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