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A homeless man originally from Burma is being held as a suspect in connection with the separate killings of three homeless people in the central Thai province of Pathum Thani last week.
Police suspect he might also be linked to the killing of Wanchai Noymontree, 56, a homeless newspaper vendor, near an expressway in the district of Bang Sue in Bangkok on 5 September.
Police apprehended the 20-year-old suspect, identified only as Jimmy or Bung, in Bangkok’s Chatuchak District on Friday evening. Traffic police spotted him sleeping on a median strip near Mor Chit bus terminal on Kamphaeng Phet Road.
Investigators thought he might have been responsible for Wanchai’s killing. They later found his appearance, clothing and bicycle matched a sketch and surveillance footage of a man wanted for three slayings in tambon Prachathipat of Pathum Thani’s Thanyaburi District.
The suspect ran away when officers approached him but was caught at 6:40pm in Phahon Yothin Soi 18/1. Police seized the bicycle and two mobile phones from him.
The suspect was taken to Bang Sue police station, where he allegedly admitted he was the man shown in the police handout but denied any involvement in the murders. He said he fled police because he had entered Thailand illegally and did not want to get caught.
He has no criminal history, according to police.
Jimmy said he had been in Pathum Thani for six days after arriving from Tak Province, trying to find a job and surviving by scavenging and begging. He claimed a Karen man in Tak gave him the bicycle, which he rode to Bangkok.
Police said he had been arrested by Bang Sue police for illegal entry early last month and was deported to Burma. He returned again late last month by travelling on foot through the Mae Sot checkpoint in Tak.
Police yesterday took the handcuffed suspect to the scene of the crimes for a re-enactment, where Jimmy told officers that he only talked to the victims but did not kill them.
The victims were two men, Supakorn Tokran and Satian Sornchai, and a woman, Supapan Kongyudee.
Forensic experts said Jimmy had scratches on his body, while specks of blood barely visible to the naked eye were detected on his T-shirt after a test using a chemical solution. The suspect claimed he had used the T-shirt to wipe blood from a cut on his knee.
Forensic police plan to check DNA samples collected from Jimmy and his clothes to find out if they match genetic material found on the corpses.
The process will take one or two weeks, said Police Lt-Gen Sanit Mahathavorn, chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau.
Sanit said the bloodstain on the suspect’s T-shirt holds vital clues as it might also shed light on the Wanchai murder case.
Jimmy denied involvement in the crimes and gave confusing statements during an overnight interrogation.
However, Sanit said police believe he was the killer.
Investigators yesterday took Jimmy to Thanyaburi Provincial Court to request further detention. Investigators will also arrange for a psychiatrist to examine him because of his unstable behaviour during questioning. Two witnesses have also been interviewed by police.