By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Daxis takes the cue. Although he'd earlier denied taking any "knickers" from JonBenet's bedroom, he now explains that he grabbed a fresh pair from her drawer before taking her downstairs and later dressed her in those. How was he supposed to know they would be too big? "It's almost like a breach of trust that another girl's knickers would be in JonBenet's drawer," he complains.
With Tracey's patient prodding, Daxis is able to clarify many points. But he keeps getting it wrong. At one point in the phone conversations he describes how he "pierced her sex" with an unspecified weapon in order to drink JonBenet's blood. Tracey assumes he's referring to a broken paintbrush that was found at the scene and could have been used to penetrate the child. But closer analysis suggests that what Daxis is actually saying is that he cut her vagina with something sharp -- an injury that's totally inconsistent with the autopsy report's findings. When Tracey brings up the paintbrush, Daxis is at a loss, but quickly recovers.
"I didn't describe everything," he says, annoyed. "I don't even want to use that term...I don't want to use terms like 'rope around her neck'.... Where you wish to see junk, I see something magical."
Tracey tries to see the magic. Maybe he does. At times the discussion turns giddy. Daxis dreams of completing his sex change and going to Switzerland as a nanny, where his good friend Michael can visit him. They'll sip champagne on a terrace, do good works with the profits from the book, and Tracey will never have to return to teaching undergraduates -- which, Tracey confides, doesn't interest him much anymore ("They drive me goddamn crazy"). A regular Chatty Cathy, Daxis boasts of his Kate Hepburn impersonation and wonders if they can get Johnny Depp to play him in the inevitable movie.
Tracey tells Daxis that the relationship has changed his life. "You and JonBenet, and at a lesser level, you and me," he writes. "Profound intimacy." After their first phone conversation, he refers to Daxis as "he of the velvety voice" and gets a lush response: "God I love it when you talk to me like that."
But in time the collaboration begins to resemble a bad marriage. Daxis chides Tracey for his inattentiveness, his brief responses. He flies into a jealous rage when he realizes Tracey is working with John Ramsey on another documentary when he should be devoting all of his time to their book. He's as clingy as an eighth-grade sweetheart, and Tracey finds it hard to maintain his mask.
"I'm totally sick and tired of this prick," he writes to Bennett in late July. "If I had the opportunity to rip his throat, I just might take it."
He hung in there long enough to send his velvety-voiced friend a framed portrait of JonBenet, taken on the last day of her life. It went to a Mailboxes Etc. in Bangkok. On August 7, a short, skinny, clean-cut Caucasian male riding a mountain bike picked up the package. A surveillance team composed of U.S. immigration agents and Thai police followed him to a cheaply furnished apartment complex called the Blooms.
Tracey hadn't caught the killer. But he was about to make John Mark Karr the media freak show of the week, the latest prime suspect in the most famous child murder in history.
John Mark Karr
T: I'll tell you this in confidence...John [Ramsey] is basically broke, financially. And we're trying to put together a deal where we would basically pay him for an interview. Now, journalistically, that is breaking all the rules. But to hell with the rules in this instance. D: I didn't even know you were making a documentary about this...I thought this book was supposed to be released by the tenth anniversary.
T: Absolutely. The one doesn't cancel the other out. Don't worry about that.
-- Tracey phone conversation with Daxis, July 22, 2006
When David Mills got his own copies of the Daxis tapes, he was alarmed to hear his co-producer promising to pay John Ramsey for an interview. "I was cross with that," he recalls. "I went and rang Michael."
Tracey explained that the promise was just one more "invention" in the web of lies he was weaving to build trust with Karr. Mills says his partner may have gotten the idea from discussions they'd had about sharing the profits with John Ramsey if they came into a windfall from Karr's capture.
"If he had been the killer, the documentary would have sold for two or three million dollars," Mills says. "I would have felt slightly unfeeling, profiting from John Ramsey's suffering. If we suddenly got some sort of huge fortune, I think I'd want to pass it on to John."
According to another source, Tracey hinted to friends after Karr's arrest that he was in negotiation with CBS to sell the e-mails for a tidy sum. Of course, a "How I Caught JonBenet's Killer" book would also be huge. But it all went thud when the DNA tests came back. Karr was exposed as the wannabe nutcase Tracey had once suspected he might be, before they both got caught up in the fairy dust and make-believe, the Alice in Wonderland thing. Nothing is impossible, if wishing makes it so.