Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Victim of gang may be elderly European

Sep 26. 2016
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Scan of dismembered body suggests saw used to cut man up.
A SCAN on body parts found in a refrigerator during a raid last week on a building in Bangkok’s Sukhumvit Soi 56 suggests it was an elderly European man who was dismembered by an electric saw, Dr Udomsak Hoonwichit, of Chulalongkorn University’s faculty of medicine, said yesterday. 
The deceased man’s DNA will be collected for identification and given to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for a check with its database, he said.
Udomsak and Central Institute of Forensic Science director Suphot Nakngernthong took the dismembered body for a virtual autopsy yesterday by CT scan to try to determine the time of death, the cause and possibly some clues about the killer. 
That was carried out while other identification methods were used such as checking clothes and dental records, DNA sampling, and testing for traces of toxic elements or poison, Udomsak said. The results would also be sent to the FBI for a second check. 
“The fact the body parts were frozen could affect the probe result, especially for the time of death,” he said. “The body is suspected to have been dismembered by a sharp electric saw and he was initially found to be an elderly European man.”
National police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda said yesterday that the interrogation of three Western suspects arrested at the building for passport forgery and other charges helped police identify a possible motive for murder. But he declined to reveal that motive pending a further investigation, plus victim identification and whether the deceased was involved with the gang. 
He said police also contacted an unnamed embassy to see if the victim was a citizen of that country, as per a passport found in the building.
Chakthip said the person who did this was cruel to kill and dismember someone to conceal a crime. 
He confirmed that the group was involved with forged passports. The suspected gang leader is a man in his 50s identified as Peter William Johnson from the US or Peter Andrew Colter from Northern Ireland. 
The two other suspects – Gabel Aaron Thomas, 33, and James Douglas Eger, 66, are both American. 
Chakthip said police found 10 British, French and US passports in the raid. They were investigating whether there are more accomplices and have summoned a Thai woman who married “Colter” for questioning.
Chakthip spoke while visiting Sgt-Major Kanchanapong Chedech at the Police General Hospital, where he was treated for gunshot wounds sustained during the raid last Friday. 
City police chief Lt-General Sanit Mahathaworn, meanwhile, said the dismembered man’s death was being investigated to find out if it was a murder or a natural death. Officials were awaiting forensic results before that could be ascertained. Police were collecting the deceased man’s fingerprints for submission to the FBI, so this week should yield some clarity. 
Police had found more accomplices in the gang, he said, but declined to give details.
An informed source said investigators believed some evidence pointed at “Colter” as the alleged killer, so they had gathered more evidence for a possible murder charge.
Sanit’s deputy Pol Maj-General Suwat Jaengyodsuk presided over a meeting of investigators yesterday with experts on guns, chemicals, autopsies and DNA identification. Suwat said they had some information on missing foreigners and had asked Immigration Police to give a list of foreigners who failed to renew visas. 
They had also contacted embassies of interest to try to identify the dismembered man, as well as the three suspects in custody. 
Suwat confirmed the group had contacted a temple in Bangkok about “cremating a friend” a month ago, so police would check with the temple whether a cremation ever took place.
Police searched a house previously rented by “Colter” in Ekkamai Soi 12, so The Nation visited the neighbourhood yesterday. A resident living next door, food vendor Surin Leu-ai, said “Colter” appeared to be a reserved man. He had moved to the house alone seven or eight years ago. Over the past four to five years, two foreign friends were frequent visitors to the house. 
About four to five months ago, he and his wife heard a man scream loudly from “Colter’s” house at 10pm, so they were about to get their son to check on him. But it was silent later, so they assumed he did stuff around the house loudly. A month after, “Colter” moved out along with the fridge – which Surin said had been plugged in at the house – and it was also padlocked. 
“Colter”, who was injured when he was arrested, is in custody in the Police Hospital, while the two Americans are held at Bangkok Remand Prison. 
The three face charges of having guns and ammunition in their possession without permission, forging state-issued documents, possessing illicit drugs and hiding a dead body to conceal a crime. “Colter” faces extra charges of obstructing police in the performance of their duty and the attempted murder of an on-duty police man, who was shot in the chest.

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