The body, a foreign man, was discovered on Friday (Sept 23) in a shophouse on Sukhumvit soi 56, and was yesterday (Sept 26) sent for a digital autopsy at Thammasat Hospital in Pathum Thani’s Khlong Luang district.
Udomsak Hoonwijit, head of Chulalongkorn Hospital’s forensic medicine department, said the computerised tomography (CT) autopsy is able to analyse wounds and tissue damage more effectively than a traditional examination.
The test’s initial findings indicate the victim was an elderly European male whose body was cut up using an electric chainsaw.
It is not known whether he was dismembered while alive or dead.
Chulalongkorn Hospital was initially asked to perform the autopsy, but because it lacks the appropriate equipment, passed on the duty to Thammasat.
“The victim was an old male, a foreign national from Europe,” said Mr Udomsak.
“The body parts were frozen for a long period. The CT autopsy will give us three-dimensional images that can be compared to other pieces of evidence for identification.
“But the hardest part of the case is pinpointing when he died. We also need more information to determine the cause of death,” he said.
The Chulalongkorn Hospital’s forensic medicine department would today (Sept 27) take dental records of the victim and collect DNA samples for use in verifying the victim’s identity.
Three foreign nationals were arrested and charged with multiple offences, including concealing a corpse. Two of them are Americans identified by their passports as James Douglas Eger and Aaron Thomas Gabel. The other suspect is Peter Andrew Colter, a British national.
After the CT autopsy, National Police Chief Chakthip Chaijinda said police are expanding their investigation into passport forgery, and will summon for questioning a Thai woman reportedly married to Mr Colter.
He said there is little information about the human body found in the freezer and it will take time before police can establish connections between the victim and the suspects.
Gen Chakthip said authorities are working with foreign embassies to identify the body.
Metropolitan Police Bureau commissioner Lt Gen Sanit Mahathavorn said police are in the process of identifying the frozen body, though say it is too early to tell whether he was murdered.
He said fingerprint samples were sent to US authorities for identification, but were not clear enough to yield any information.
Lt Gen Sanit expressed confidence more clues and information would emerge this week.
He said authorities will examine the body parts to see whether anyone else’s skin or hair samples can be found on the body that may lead to identifying the DNA of his alleged killers.
According to Lt Gen Sanit, police have more information about the forged passport operation, but declined to disclose it.
He also said police found useful evidence during their searches at Mr Colter’s two former houses, in Ekkamai soi 12 and Pridi 37.
Mr Colter told police the freezer was moved from his former residence in Ekkamai soi 12.
Surin Lue-ai, 65, who lives next door to Mr Colter in the Ekkamai area, said Mr Colter moved in about 7-8 years ago alone and was frequently visited by a couple of friends during the past 4-5 years.
However, Mr Surin said he did not recognise the friends as the two other suspects.
He said about 4-5 months ago he heard a loud scream one night come from Mr Colter’s house, but did not check to see what happened. Mr Colter moved out about a month later.
Mr Surin, a food vendor, said he and Mr Colter did not talk much except when he came to buy beer from him. He said he did know what Mr Colter's job was, but that Mr Colter left home at 9am every day and returned in the evening.
He said he saw a large freezer in the house, which Mr Colter took with him when he moved.
Maj Gen Suwat Chaengyodsuk, deputy commissioner of the MPB, chaired a meeting yesterday with police and experts from various fields to follow up on the investigation. He said the Immigration Bureau is running checks on foreigners who failed to report to authorities.
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