Popular actress Preechaya “Ice” Pongthananikorn has admitted she bought cyanide online to repel monitor lizards that had been attacking her dogs and insisted the purchase was not aimed at hurting anyone.
The 33-year-old celebrity issued the clarification on Friday after police said they wanted to talk to other people who had purchased cyanide from the same supplier used by accused serial killer Sararat “Aem” Rangsiwuthaporn.
Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn, the deputy national chief, said on Thursday that a well-known actress’s name was found on a list of 100 buyers who had purchased cyanide from the same batch as Ms Sararat. He did not name the actress.
Ms Preechaya told the Lui Chon Khao television programme on Channel 8 that she had bought just one bottle of cyanide, not a tonne as reported. She had not yet opened the parcel containing the substance, she said, adding she was willing to give a statement to police.
Her mother Bang-orn Pongthananikorn told reporters that her daughter had purchased the substance online on April 25 and received the parcel on April 27.
She said Ms Preechaya purchased cyanide because the land behind her house had subsided, resulting in snakes, monitor lizards and poisonous reptiles from a nearby canal coming onto the property to attack her dogs.
She had tried several other methods to repel the pests but they didn’t work. After doing some research online, she decided to order cyanide. She has already handed the package and related documents to police at the Bang Khen station.
Pol Gen Surachate said on Friday that he wasn’t fully satisfied with the actress’s explanation, and that police would summon her to ask her more questions.
The chief of the Department of Industrial Works will also be invited on Monday to give details on firms importing cyanide and what they use it for. The main objectives are for research work and use in the mining industry, he said.
On Tuesday, police investigating the serial murders linked to Ms Sararat, dubbed “Aem Cyanide”, searched the premises of a company in Lat Krabang from which the suspect was believed to have purchased the cyanide. The company sells chemicals and equipment for laboratory use.
Police have said that all 15 reported victims of the accused serial killer had been poisoned, and that money was the main motive. They say Ms Sararat pawned off her victims’ assets and used the money to pay off debts, both hers and those of her ex-husband.
Ms Sararat, 36, was arrested on April 25 in Bangkok on a warrant issued by the Criminal Court. She is currently four months pregnant.
Of the 15 victims linked to the accused, 14 died and one survived. Of the 14 who died, 12 were women and two were men. Investigators believe Ms Sararat mixed cyanide in the food and drinks of her victims.
Her ex-husband, Pol Lt Col Withoon Rangsiwuthaporn, is also facing charges of receiving stolen property, jointly forging official documents and using forged official documents. He was arrested this week and dismissed from the police force.
He is currently free on bail as the court said police did not have evidence to link him to the killings his ex-wife is accused of, and he had been cooperating with investigators. (Story continues below)
Lawyer Thannicha Aeksuwannarat speaks to reporters as she arrives to meet her client Saranrat “Aem” Rangsituthaporn, at the Central Women’s Correctional Institute on Friday. (Photo: Police TV)
Investigation making progress
Pol Gen Surachate said on Friday that the investigation into the killings was making good progress and evidence gathering was about 80% complete.
He said he did not intend to visit the accused again at the Central Women’s Correctional Institute. He had gone there on Thursday with her ex-husband in hopes that she might confess but she said she would only speak to a lawyer.
Thannicha Aeksuwannawat, Ms Sararat’s lawyer, spent an hour talking to her client on Friday. She said Ms Sararat had denied all the charges and stated that she only wished to testify before a court.
“She does not wish to see anyone except her lawyer. She is concerned that walking to and from the visitors’ booth might cause a miscarriage,” Ms Thannicha said.
Pol Gen Surachate said that while a lot of the evidence police have is circumstantial, it is sound.
“Don’t think that Aem will not be found at fault as she was not present when her victims were about to die,” he said. “There are timelines showing when she and the victims met. It’s not necessary to have photos as proof to show them together.”
He also said he believed a police officer who was well-versed in investigations told her what to do to escape punishment. He did not name the officer.