A man has been arrested on suspicion of killing at least four people by serving them pesticide-laced beverages, while plotting to steal their valuables and vehicles.
Three victims have survived, while two others remain unaccounted for.
Police yesterday announced the arrest of Nirut, or Jamlong, Sornkhamharn, 43. They said he was nabbed at a rented room in Nakhon Pathom on Monday.
Nirut reportedly confessed to causing the deaths. "But I didn't intend to kill them. Only those who drank all the coffee in their cups died," he said.
Nirut said he received Bt50,000 per stolen vehicle he handed over to a gang based in Songkhla's Hat Yai district. "I have also stolen valuables from the bodies of my victims," Nirut said. All the victims were drivers offering transport services. Nirut said he randomly called his victims from telephone numbers he saw in advertisements.
One of his surviving victims, Paitoon Pattapho, said he received a phone call from Nirut on January 28 offering him Bt4,500 for a job to collect goods from Prachuap Khiri Khan's Pran Buri district. "We had reached Cha-Am [when] he suggested we get something to drink. He volunteered to buy the drinks," Paitoon recounted. "But after three sips, I felt the coffee taste was so bitter. Minutes later, I felt numb and my legs jerked. So, I did my best to pull [the car] aside".
Paitoon said he lost consciousness and when he woke up, he was in forestland with all his valuables gone.
"I still consider myself lucky because I survived," he said.
Not all victims were fortunate. Sombat Suebchua said his 23-year-old son went with Nirut on January 3 and never returned.
"We haven't found his body. We at least want his body back so that we can hold proper funeral rites for him," Sombat said. Nirut said he could not remember where he left his victims.
This suspect has now been implicated in nine crimes. In one case, he allegedly tied stones to the body of Yupin Jomkhem and threw it into Lampao Dam in Kalasin in January last year in a bid to cover up his crime. He is now facing charges of pre-mediated murder, and stealing of vehicles.
Nirut is behind bars at the Crime Suppression Bureau. Sources at the bureau said he attempted to hang himself using an old electric wire but the cable snapped and he fell down, cutting his head.According to the sources, a suspect killed himself in this cell before and many others have attempted to commit suicide there.