Investigators have obtained evidence implicating a police officer in offences committed by alleged cyanide killer Sararat “Aem” Rangsiwuthaporn.
An application for an arrest warrant for the unnamed officer would be made in the next few days, deputy national police chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn said on Tuesday. He did not further identify him.
An informed source said investigators from Provincial Police Region 7 were expected to apply for a warrant for a police lieutenant colonel, said to be the prime suspect’s former husband, Pol Lt Col Withoon Rangsiwuthaporn.
The source said investigators had found that millions of baht had been transferred from her bank accounts to bank accounts held by the police officer. Investigators were still compiling the evidence to support the court application, the source said.
Crime Suppression Division (CSD) investigators on Tuesday questioned Pol Lt Col Withoon, deputy superintendent of the Suan Phueng police station in Ratchaburi, for the second time.
Earlier, the officer told investigators that he and Ms Sararat divorced three years ago, but they still lived in the same house because they had to help each other take care of their two children. They slept in separate bedrooms.
During that time, Pol Lt Col Withoon gave money to his ex-wife to lend out. When she made profits, she transferred the money back to him but the amounts were not high, he reportedly said.
Investigators are thoroughly examining the money trail of the pair. They are also trying to determine if Pol Lt Col Withoon was aware when Ms Sararat committed the offences she is accused of.
Police on Tuesday morning also searched the premises of a firm in Lat Krabang from which the suspect is believed to have purchased the cyanide.
Officers searched two four-storey commercial buildings housing the company, which sells chemicals and equipment for laboratory use. The results of the search were not disclosed.
Investigators plan to work with the Department of Industrial Works and the Food and Drug Administration in examining the importation of the deadly substance by the company, and its objectives for doing so, Pol Gen Surachate said.
“If it is found to be involved, legal action will be taken,” he said.
Weerachai Phutdhawong, an associate professor of chemistry at Kasetsart University, said on Tuesday that police had sent nearly 400 items of evidence in the case for laboratory examination. All tests would be completed by Friday.
Initial findings showed traces of cyanide in some items. The test results would be announced later by police, he said.
14 dead victims
Pol Gen Surachate said on Tuesday the investigation was progressing well. There were now 14 dead alleged victims and one survivor.
Investigators so far had arrest warrants for Ms Sararat in 10 cases, he said.
Ms Sararat, 36, dubbed “Aem Cyanide", was arrested on April 25 at the government complex on Chaeng Watthana Road in Bangkok on a warrant issued by the Criminal Court. Currently four months pregnant, she is being held without bail at the Central Women’s Correctional Institute.
“I assure you that police have the evidence to prosecute ‘Aem’ in all cases. There is both circumstantial evidence and autopsy results,” Pol Gen Surachate said on Tuesday.
The arrest followed a complaint filed by the mother and elder sister of the late Siriporn “Koy” Khanwong, 32, of 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 April 14. Cyanide was found in her body.
Investigators believe Ms Sararat mixed cyanide in Siriporn’s food, causing her death. She allegedly also stole from the victim. (Story continues below)
Forensic officers examine a car belonging to Sararat Rangsiwuthaporn, who is accused of killing a woman with cyanide in Ratchaburi, for possible evidence. (Photo supplied/Wassayos Ngamkham)
Pol Gen Surachate said authorities also have information about other people who came into contact with the suspect and had subsequently died. Police were investigating whether they were victims.
He asked relatives of people who had died after meeting and sharing meals with the suspect to contact him at the Royal Thai Police Sports Club on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road.
The deputy police chief also asked police station chiefs in areas where the murders occurred to further investigate other cases of unnatural deaths, for example if people’s hands or fingernails had turned green.
Autopsies must be performed on those bodies, he said.
National police chief Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas would meet with the investigation teams on Wednesday, he added.
Other suspicious cases
On Monday, the mother of a woman who died in Bangkok seven years ago and is suspected to be Ms Sararat’s 15th poisoning victim met with CSD investigators.
Ms Ladda, 64, said her daughter Montathip, known as Sai, 37, died in Bangkok seven years ago. She reportedly told police she personally thought it was Ms Sararat who caused her death, although she had no evidence to substantiate the belief.
Ms Sararat is also suspected of involvement in the death of her boyfriend Sutthisak “Dae” Phoonkhwan, with whom she began a relationship after divorcing her husband.
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, where he was treated and later discharged. But he died later that day at a dormitory in Muang district of Udon Thani.
Police and officials search a company in Lat Krabang district of Bangkok on Tuesday. The suspect is said to have purchased cyanide from the firm. (Photo supplied/Wassayos Ngamkham)