Woman in river 'likely killed in Laos'

Woman in river 'likely killed in Laos'

Rescue workers are opening a suitcase containing the body of a woman. It was found floating in the Mekong River in That Phanom district, Nakhon Phanom province, on Sept 28. (Photo: Pattanapong Sripiachai)
Rescue workers are opening a suitcase containing the body of a woman. It was found floating in the Mekong River in That Phanom district, Nakhon Phanom province, on Sept 28. (Photo: Pattanapong Sripiachai)

Police in Nakhon Phanom have found more clues to suggest that an unidentified Lao woman whose body was found stuffed inside a suitcase in the Mekong River on Sept 28 was killed in Laos.

The body of the woman, who is believed to have been about 40 years old, was discovered in That Phanom district. She was 160 centimetres tall.

Apart from gunshot wounds to her head and markings on her face, there were no other marks on her body or signs that she had been tied up, police said. A large stone had been placed inside the case to make it sink.

There were no documents on her person indicating her name or any other information, police said. The only clues as to her identity were drawn from her brand-name outfits, which suggested she may have been relatively wealthy.

Pol Col Thawil Khamket, chief of That Phanom police, on Thursday updated reporters on the progress of the case. He said the autopsy results from Khon Kaen's forensic institute indicated she had been struck with a hard object on her face and shot twice in the head. The make of the gun was not known.

A Mercedes-Benz was also found dumped into the river, indicating the incident occurred in Vientiane. Police believe the vehicle belonged to the deceased. Her five-year-old daughter is still missing, police said.

The woman's presumed relatives were initially confident she was the same person who had gone missing recently. They named her only as "Ms Wipapon" and said she ran a private construction firm in the Lao capital.

Her body was later transferred to a hospital, pending DNA tests. Officials were still waiting for her relatives to officially identify her. Her funeral rites will be conducted in Laos and police will hand the case over to their Lao counterparts to conduct a more thorough probe, Pol Col Thawil said.

According to one media report, the deceased and her son were both members of a business group that injected hundreds of millions of Lao kip to support the country's U19 football team. As such, it was reported that locals believed the killers may be associated with influential people or even state officials.


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