An American arrested in Thailand for the murder of child 'beauty queen' JonBenet Ramsey said on Thursday her death was an accident and told the police he loved the six-year-old girl.
John Mark Karr would be returned to the United States within a week, said Ann Hurst, an attache for the US Department of Homeland Security.
US authorities have been working with Thai police for about two months to track down Karr, she told a press conference, adding that he could be linked to another crime in California.
The arrest of Karr in Bangkok on Wednesday was a surprise breakthrough in the lurid case of JonBenet, who was found beaten and strangled to death in her family's Colorado house the day after Christmas in 1996.
The case captivated the United States and put the spotlight on the phenomenon of child beauty pageants, where the young blonde was videotaped in lipstick, jewelry and gowns, pouting seductively for the cameras.
The head of Thai immigration police, Lieutenant General Suwat Thamrongsrisakul, said Karr had confessed to the killing but claimed it was unintentional.
"He said he was in love with the girl, and on the day the incident happened, he went to see the girl at her house. The two of them went into the basement, which is where he said he accidentally killed her," Suwat told reporters.
In a brief appearance before reporters, the 41-year-old Karr was asked if he killed the child and said "No, I did not".