Killer hunted after toddler found dead

Killer hunted after toddler found dead

Three-year-old girl was 'likely strangled'

MUKDAHAN: A team of investigators has launched a manhunt to find the killer of a three-year-old girl found dead and naked in a forest four days after disappearing from her home in Dong Luang district, police said.

Deputy police spokesman Pol Col Kissana Phathanacha­roen said police are on their way to identifying the killer as important pieces of evidence have been collected.

The body of Orawan "Nong Chompoo'' Wongsricha was found by a search party in Phu Phan Noi forest, part of Phu Pha Yon National Park, around 7pm on Thursday.

Teams, led by Dong Luang district chief Chatchawal Thongchon and Pol Col Suriya Nopkreekamhaeng, chief inspector of Kok Tum police station, went into the forest after a woman reported seeing a pair of green slippers in the area.

They found the body of the missing girl in some bushes about five metres away from the slippers.

Her clothes were also found scattered nearby.

Police said the victim appeared to have been strangled and was believed to have been dead for at least eight hours before her body was discovered.

An autopsy will determine the cause of death and whether she had been sexually assaulted.

Forensic officials scoured the crime scene for evidence. Some of the material collected is undergoing DNA testing to help determine the identity of the killer.

The girl's slippers were first noticed by Tun Promngoi, 58, from tambon Tao Ngoi in adjoining Sakon Nakhon province.

She and her husband earn a living by collecting mushrooms and other wild food. On Thursday, Ms Tun went to Phu Phan Noi forest on one such expedition.

While picking wild mushrooms, she saw the green slippers in the forest and thought a child must have dropped them. Ms Tun said she later became suspicious, saying it was unusual for a child to venture that far out into the forest.

But she told police she had not been aware that a girl had recently gone missing and as she had not seen a body, she carried on collecting mushrooms.

Ms Tun said when she returned home she told other members of the family about the slippers and only afterwards learned about the missing girl. She then quickly informed the girl's relatives.

Afterwards a team of police, soldiers and national park officials were sent to search the area.

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