Crime Suppression Division (CSD) investigators are looking to obtain statements from two key people in connection with the case, CSD deputy commander Pol Col Anek Taosupap said yesterday (Apr 27). They are Kantima “Pla” Phaesa-ard, 36, who survived a poisoning attempt allegedly made by the suspect, and Raphee Chamnarnrue, who took the family of a dead woman to file a police complaint, reports the Bangkok Post.
Ms Sararat, the ex-wife of a senior police officer in Ratchaburi, is four months pregnant. After her divorce last year she took up with a new boyfriend who died last month in circumstances that his friends call suspicious, Thai media reported yesterday.
Pol Col Anek said he had also assigned his investigators to meet with doctors who specialise in poisons and chemicals. Officers want to learn more about the dangers of cyanide, and the amount that would result in harm to the body and cause death. This information will be included in a police report, together with evidence of test results that showed toxic substances in the body of one of victims linked to the suspect.
“We are confident that we have firm evidence to prosecute… the suspect in the case,” he said. “Now, police investigators are preparing to press additional charges aside from a premeditated murder charge.”
The additional charges are premeditated murder with intent to steal property, poisoning, and theft. “Some offences carry the death penalty,” he said.
Mr Raphee, who is helping the families of the victims, said other leads the police are expected to follow relate to the suspect’s reported involvement in money lending and a pyramid scheme.
Ms Sararat, 36, was apprehended on Tuesday at the government office complex on Chaeng Watthana Road in in Bangkok by CSD police with an arrest warrant issued by the Criminal Court. She had a bottle of cyanide in her possession and she refused to give police a statement.
Her arrest followed a complaint filed by the mother and elder sister of the late Siriporn “Koy” Khanwong, 32, from Kanchanaburi. Siriporn collapsed and died on the bank of the Mae Klong river in Ban Pong district of Ratchaburi where she had gone with Ms Sararat to release fish for merit-making on Apr 14. Cyanide was found in her body.
Investigators came to believe that Ms Sararat might have mixed cyanide in Siriporn’s food, causing her death. She allegedly also stole the victim’s valuables.
Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn, the deputy national police chief, said yesterday afternoon that investigators had found another dead victim linked to Ms Sararat. The victim died at a rented apartment in Nakhon Pathom in 2020. That discovery, if confirmed, would bring the total number of deaths to 13.
On Wednesday, the Criminal Court approved a police request to further detain Ms Sararat without bail on a charge of killing Siriporn.
Pol Col Anek said investigators had called Nipawan Khanwong, 35, the elder sister of Siriporn, who was with her sister before her death, to give a statement yesterday. Ms Nipawan had reportedly asked the suspect about the death.
Investigators are also seeking to question a Mukdahan man whose wife had been given capsules by the suspect, who said they were a tonic. The woman consumed the capsules before she died.
As well, officers are looking into whether Ms Sararat’s elder sister, a pharmacist, was involved in the provision or use of cyanide. The initial investigation, however, showed that the suspect had purchased cyanide from another channel, said Pol Col Anek.
At this stage, investigators have not yet found any other people involved and they believe Ms Sararat had acted alone, he added.
Initial questioning of the suspect did not indicate any mental problems that might have led to the crimes. She spoke like a normal person, he said.
Cyanide ‘bought online’
Cyanide is a controlled substance used in industries and cannot be purchased at drug stores.
A source close to the investigation said Ms Sararat had reportedly purchased cyanide online. Five teenagers called in for questioning told police that she brought them five parcels containing bottles of drugs with her name as the recipient and asked them to bury them. They claimed she had paid them B500 to do the job.
One of them reportedly suspected what was inside the parcels, so he opened one and sniffed one of the bottles. He developed symptoms including dizziness and confusion for about three days.
As it turned out, the teenagers never got around to burying the bottles because they were busy celebrating Songkran. Ms Sararat phoned them to ask whether they had done what she asked, but by then it was too late as police already found the bottles, according to the source.
Investigators are also checking the records of two logistics companies for evidence of deliveries that could implicate the suspect.
Ex-boyfriend’s mysterious death
Questions have also arisen about the death of Ms Sararat’s boyfriend, Sutthisak “Dae” Phoonkhwan, with whom she began a relationship after divorcing her police husband last year.
Sutthisak, 35, died on March 12 this year in Udon Thani. He passed out at a petrol station in Nong Han district of the northeastern province after making merit with Ms Sararat at a local temple and having meals at a restaurant. Rescue workers rushed him to Nong Han Hospital.
Sgt Ekkaphan Saiking, head of the Songserm Tham rescue team, told reporters that his team went to the petrol station at around 8am on that day to attend to a man who had collapsed at the entrance to a washroom.
He recalled the man, later identified as Sutthisak, telling him that he felt dizzy and had chest pain. The rescue team did not perform CPR but sent him to Nong Han Hospital. He was treated there and later discharged, according to the rescue team head.
Sutthisak died later that same day at a dormitory in Muang district of Udon Thani. Ms Sararat told police that he had high blood pressure and that she had no doubts about his death, the Channel 3 news programme Rueng Lao Chao Nee reported on Thursday.
But friends of Sutthisak questioned his death.
The TV programme also broadcast a video showing Ms Sararat holding her birthday party on the night her boyfriend died. It had been posted originally on the Facebook account of a friend of Sutthisak.
A friend of the deceased told investigators that he believed Ms Sararat had killed Sutthisak and a possible motive was money, said Pol Gen Surachate. However, investigators are awaiting lab test results on a bottle of drugs that the friend said Sutthisak had received from the woman.
Stress and pregnancy
Ms Sararat, meanwhile, was said to be suffering from high stress and rising blood pressure after being sent to the Central Women’s Correctional Institute on Wednesday night. She was admitted to the institute’s hospital at around 10pm. After being treated, she was sent back to her cell, Corrections Department chief Aryut Sinthopphan said yesterday.
The suspect is four months pregnant. A doctor checked her infant’s pulse and found it was normal, said Mr Aryut.
Pol Gen Surachate said DNA testing would be conducted to find out who fathered her child.
The suspect’s former husband met with investigators yesterday. According to Pol Gen Surachate, the senior officer said he continued to live with Ms Sararat after they divorced. He told investigators that Ms Sararat had asked to return to live with him.
Meanwhile, Mr Raphee says the case involves five groups of victims. They were those who took part in a pyramid scheme with the suspect, those who loaned money to her, those who gave her money to provide money lending services, those who took their cars or assets to her to mortgage, and those who authorised her to borrow from savings cooperatives.
He called on relatives of dead victims who were in those five groups to contact him or police handling the case.
JohnC | 29 April 2023 - 09:02:48