Elderly women fearful as police hunt serial rapist

Elderly women fearful as police hunt serial rapist

Nakhon Pathom locals told to hide potential weapons, lock theirdoors

Nakhon Pathom residents, particularly elderly women, are living in fear as a man linked to a series of rapes and murders is still at large.

This 75-year-old woman is keeping the wanted photo of the killer - and keeping her gates and doors locked. Police requests to the public for help have had the unintended consequence of causing near-panic among elderly women in the Nakhon Pathom area. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)

They do not know who will be next, as police struggle to catch the culprit, who mainly targets elderly women.

Police said he has attacked 12 women since 2011. Two of the victims were murdered.

Officers have now offered a cash reward of 200,000 baht to anyone providing information leading to an arrest. 

The latest rape was reported in the province on Sunday when a 73-year-old woman was attacked while sleeping in her bedroom. It takes the total number of rapes linked to the rapist to 12.

Sunant Thongtabtim, a fruit vendor at Thana market in Nakhon Chaisi, said the rapist has struck twice in the district.

The first case occurred last December in tambon Maha Sawat, and the latest in tambon Lan Tak Fa.

Identikit pictures of a suspect have been posted widely in the two tambons, while locals have tried to update each other on what police and soldiers are doing to capture the suspect.

Manop Sapsaendee, the kamnan at tambon Maha Sawat, said a 39-year-old victim raped in December last year, in one of the first known attacks linked to the rapist, is still traumatised by her ordeal and does not want to discuss it.

"We are giving her moral support and assurances the culprit will be caught and brought to justice," Mr Manop said.

"Others who are elderly women admit they are frightened," he added. 

He said police have stepped up patrols around the clock in areas that are at risk, particularly houses by the canal, and houses where elderly women live alone.

The Identikit picture of the serial killer-rapist has been circulated by the mass media, on police request.

Locals have also been advised to take precautions to protect themselves, and emergency telephone numbers handed out.

Police are on standby at victims' houses to discourage the culprit from sneaking back. Residents are also advised to conceal any weapons which the culprit may use against them, Mr Manop said.

Phuk Sap-obrom, 75, a resident in tambon Maha Sawat, said she is scared she could be next. She has hidden any weapons that could be used against her.

"I have to be more vigilant and try not to stay alone. I set my dog loose at night so it barks at any strangers who pass by," she said.

But Somthawil Polannont, a 77-year-old local of Moo 1 of tambon Maha Sawat, said for as long as the rapist is still on the run, she prefers to have a knife beside her to defend herself at night.

"I have to make sure the house is locked properly before going to bed. But I can't sleep because I am still worried someone might sneak in. I am startled when I hear my dog bark," Ms Somthawil said.

She said it is dark and quiet in several spots of the village at night. Those living in poorly-lit areas could be at risk of attack, Ms Somthawil said. She urged authorities to install more lights and set up sentry posts to ease concerns.

Mon Sangbonnrue, a resident of tambon Lan Tak Fa in Nakhon Chaisi district, lives not far from the victim attacked on Sunday.

Following the attack, she now takes her 82-year-old mother, Pramual Thongsamrit, with her when she goes out collecting lemongrass in the field. "I can't leave my mother alone at home because police have not caught the culprit," Ms Mon said.

Royal Thai Police spokesman  Prawuth Thawornsiri said on Tuesday the DNA collected from the latest victim, attacked on Sunday, matches that found on nine previous rape victims in Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram and Nakhon Pathom. He said the 200,000-baht reward has been raised by members of the public who want to support police efforts.

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