Janitor finds young man’s corpse on fire behind school in NE Thailand

Police have launched a murder investigation after the body of a 23 year old man was found at a school last night in Buriram province in northeast Thailand. His body was badly burned and the smell of oil pervaded the crime scene.

At 8.30pm yesterday, a janitor started his shift at Ban Salangthon school when he noticed a “burning stench.” He followed the smell behind the school and found a blazing fire. He got closer and saw human legs inside the flames.

The janitor called the school director who informed the police. Officers from Prakhon Chai Police Station and rescue workers found the body of 23 year old Thanatat “Nam” Jankae lying face down in the grass. The flames had gone out but the smell of oil emanated from his body.

Nam’s back was covered in burns. When police turned him over, they found that his chest was so badly burned that his organs were exposed. Police say there were signs Nam had been hit with a blunt object in the head.

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Next to Nam’s body, police found a pair of shoes and a lighter. In a nearby recycling bin, police found Nam’s tote bag containing his wallet, 280 baht, a mobile phone, and a pack of cigarettes.

CCTV footage pictured Nam walking out of his house and into the shop next door at 6.55pm last night. That was the last time anyone saw Nam.

The janitor told the police…

“I came to the school to start my shift as usual. I smelt a burning stench and saw flames coming from behind the school. At first, I thought someone started a fire. When I got closer and shone a flashlight, I saw human legs inside the flames.”

The deceased’s 22 year old wife Koi told police that her husband had recently returned from Germany the night before. In a trembling voice, she told the police it was her birthday.

Koi told police that Nam’s family arranged a “feast” to celebrate Nam’s return and Koi’s birthday. Ten of his relatives came to the party which started at around 5pm.

At 6.55pm, Nam went to buy something from the shop right next to his house. After 30 minutes, Koi went to check where he was and found he had disappeared. She asked the shop to check the CCTV footage, which pictured Nam walking out of the shop and into the darkness.

Nam’s 64 year old uncle Sawan Phasi said he loved Nam like a son and had raised him since childhood. He said that Nam went back and forth between Thailand and Germany where his mother lives.

Sawan says his nephew’s murder is a complete mystery because Nam never had problems with anyone.

The police have launched an investigation to find Nam’s killer as soon as possible.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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