Police are investigating the identity of a youth, initially thought to be aged 14, who has been arrested for the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl who went missing after her mother allowed her to go to a public restroom alone.
Pet Samunprai (kneeling, right) is brought in to face his victim’s mother.
The girl, a primary school class 2 student was found dead two hours later in the grounds of a temple.
At 12:10 a.m. on August 28, Pol Lt Col Padungsak Suekamnerd, investigator at Sattahip Police Station received a report from the radio center at the Sawang Rojana Thammasathan Foundation rescue service saying that a 14-year-old boy named Pet Samunprai had come in to say he had found a girl’s body near the wall behind Luang Por Temple, in Moo 1, Sattahip Sub-district.
Pol Col Supathee Bunkrong, superintendent at Sattahip Police Station led a team of officers and rescue workers to meet the boy, who led them to the scene.
In a water drainage pipe next to the temple wall they found the body of Saichon Srisawat, or Nong Oy, an eight-year-old student at Ban Sattahip School. She was lying on her back. About 50 meters away was a blue sandal and yellow slip belonging to the girl.
Dr Apinya Wongkaew, physician on duty at Sattahip Hospital examined the body and said that there were signs of strangulation and rape.
Mrs Lapin Buranakitti, 31, and Saithan Srisawat, 13, the dead girl’s mother and brother formally identified the body.
The police officers questioned Pet, as he had found the body, but his behavior aroused their suspicions. He was taken to the police station for further questioning, and he confessed that he had committed the crime.
Pet stated that at approximately 9:30 p.m. he was walking to the public restroom next to Sattahip Temple, and found the girl coming out of the toilets alone. He had been taking ya ba and was experiencing a strong sexual desire. He tricked the girl into going behind the temple, and pushed her down when they were out of sight with the intention of raping her. However, she struggled and shouted for help. He strangled her until she lost consciousness, and carried her 50 meters away from the first location, because he was afraid that someone might see him.
Then he started to rape her but the girl regained consciousness, and he became afraid, so he strangled her until she passed away. He then showered to remove the evidence, and fabricated the story that he had innocently found the body.
Lapin, the girl’s mother, said that at about 9:10 p.m. she was selling Issan sausage, and her daughter needed to go to the restroom. She allowed the girl to go alone, but two hours passed and she didn’t return. Lapin began searching, and then heard that a body had been found beside the temple. Nong Oy had been a good child, she said, and often helped her sell food, never causing any problems.
Doubts began to arise over the true age and identity of Pet later during questioning. Pol Col Supathee said that Pet declared he was only 14 years old. But although it had become apparent he had committed crimes on other occasions, there was no record in the files of a boy of his age named Pet Samunprai.
There was, however, a record of a youth of that name who had been born in 1990, and who had been detained for raping someone at the Rayong Juvenile Probation Home. That person had been released less than a month ago. If they are the same person, that would make Pet 18 years old, and not 14 as he claimed. In which case, he had been giving an incorrect statement to deliberately hide his real age.
Later that day, police took Pet to the scene of the crime, where they encountered a crowd of about 1,000 people threatening to lynch him. The officers had to ask the Navy to provide security, and 100 officers were drafted in to hold the crowd at bay. Angry spectators shouted and threw objects at the accused and several of the officers were hit, although no one was injured.
After finishing the reenactment of the crime, the police had to remove the accused from the scene by climbing over the temple wall, as the crowd refused to disperse and a lynching could have resulted.
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