A police arrest warrant was initially issued for local man Boonna Thong-ngam, 57. But police said Boonna also implicated “Pol Snr Sgt Major Mote” – Pramote Buppasri, a former policeman from Ban Pheu police station – in the robbery and murder of Bang-orn.
As a result, the arrest warrant was also issued for Pramote, deputy national police chief Pol General Chalermkiat Sriworakhan told a press conference yesterday.
At the time Bang-orn’s remains were discovered, police investigators identified Pramote and others as suspects but had insufficient evidence to prosecute them.
Pramote reportedly burnt body parts near the forest on several occasions. He is currently serving a term of life in prison at Khlong Phai Prison for the 2011 murder of Tambon Jampadong official Warunee Chairin.
Chalermkiat said Boonna confessed to conspiring with Pramote to rob and kill Bang-orn. Boonna claimed the former policeman asked for a loan of Bt10,000 from Bang-orn, but was turned down due to previous debt avoidance behaviour.
Boonna claimed that Pramote took Bang-orn, who often wore gold ornaments and carried a lot of cash, to a shack in a rice field and broke her neck, while Boonna was on the lookout. They then transported the body in Pramote’s pick-up truck to be burnt at the forest area.
Boonna claimed Pramote took Bang-orn’s valuables then dumped her motorbike in a pond, before giving Boonna a share of the Bt14,000. On the same night, the two men brought car tyres to burn Bang-orn’s body for a last time. Following these acts, charges of conspiracy to premeditated murder, armed robbery and destroying a body to conceal the crime were laid, Chalermkiat said.
Bang-orn’s partial remains were discovered in the Udon forest zone, where police found more human remains last month. Bodies appear to have been burnt by tyre-fuelled fires in 23 spots there. These finds have led to a belief that victims from different cases may have been killed and their bodies destroyed over a period of many years.
Chalermkiat said 41 relatives of missing persons had submitted DNA samples for comparison to samples identified in one of the 23 spots. (DNA tests for other locations were ongoing). So far, 41 samples have been ruled out, while 13 others were in the process of comparison, he added.
Provincial Police Region 4 deputy chief Pol Maj General Khajornsak Pansakhon, who heads the investigation into this “23-spot tyre-fuelled makeshift cemetery case” said Bang-orn’s murder was among cases in the probe. Police were hoping that Pramote, who is now an old inmate, would cooperate and reveal more about other body parts discovered in the forest zone.
In another case – of Kularp Insri, 48, who went missing in 2010 – the police investigation was closed after an alleged mastermind and two policemen were arrested, he said. The public prosecutor decided not to indict the two cops while the court acquitted the alleged mastermind because it could not be confirmed the victim was dead, as her body was never found, he added.