Cigarette butt DNA points to Koh Tao killers
published : 18 Sep 2014 at 17:59
writer: Supapong Chaolan
The search for the killers of two British tourists on Koh Tao has focussed on two men who shared a cigarette and whose semen was found on the murdered woman's body.
Locals hold a religious ceremony for the two murdered British tourists at a pavilion on Sai Ree beach, Koh Tao , in Surat Thani's Phangan district on Thursday. (Video by Thiti Wannamontha)
Tests on DNA samples collected from the body of Hannah Victoria Witheridge, 24, did not match samples taken from the other victim, David William Miller, 24, or Christopher Alan Ware, Miller's friend, or the six Myanmar workers earlier suspected.
The semen DNA matched DNA found on the butt of an LM cigarette found beside a rock 30-50 metres from the crime scene, Surat Thani police chief Kiattipong Khaosam-ang said on Thursday.
He said the DNA of two men was found on the cigarette butt and they matched the DNA found in the semen found inside the female victim's body.
Pol Maj Gen Kiattipong said it seemed the two men had shared a cigarette about the time Miller and Witheridge had walked past them, heading to the sandy area of the beach where they were murdered.
A hoe from a nearby vegetable garden had been used in the murder, he said.
Forensic export Pol Gen Jarumporn Suramanee, right, collects evidence at the crime scene on Koh Tao on Thursday. (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)
Police still thought that foreign workers on Koh Tao, especially Rohingya, were the most likely suspects, but had not ruled out Thais visiting or living on Koh Tao, or foreign tourists, the Surat Thani police chief said.
The murderers might have used two weapons. The blood on the hoe was from Witheridge alone, Pol Maj Gen Kiattipong said. The other weapon was likely to be a metal object used to bludgeon Miller.
Investigators had combed the beach nearby the crime scene where there was a party that both victims attended, in the search for more evidence.
Staff of the British embassy took Miller's friend, Mr Ware, from police custody and put him and his younger brother on a flight to England on Thursday, tourist police commander Apichai Thiamataya said. Consular staff promised that if Thai police needed more information the British embassy would contact them.
Mr Ware's younger brother had left Koh Tao in Phangan district of Surat Thani province for Bangkok before the murder, so he was cleared, Pol Maj Apichai said.
Although Mr Ware had an injury on the back of his hand, there was a medical certificate to confirm that it was caused by a firework, he said.
It was reported that staff of the British embassy had arranged for the release of the two murder victims' bodies from the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the Police General Hospital in Bangkok on Wednesday evening for transport back to their homes.
British consul Michael Hancock took members of the victims' families to meet Royal Thai Police adviser Jarumporn Suramanee for a briefing on the results of the autopsies on the bodies and an update on the progress in the investigation.
The family members were too upset to give interviews to reporters.
Pol Gen Jarumporn said that the victims' family members had no questions about the results of the autopsies, but had asked that reporters consider their feelings.
The two tourists were found slain on Sai Ree beach of Koh Tao early Monday morning.
About 100 local people on Koh Tao attended a religious rite and made merit for the victims on the tourist island on Thursday.
At the ceremony, Koh Tao mayor Chaiyant Thurasakul said local people felt a deep sadness because there had never been such a murder on the island before.
He said Koh Tao municipality and local business operators would improve security for tourists and install lights and surveillance cameras in risk areas.