Sex offender confesses to murdering Thai-British teenager, girlfriend still missing

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A man formerly imprisoned for sex crimes has confessed to murdering the Thai-British teenager who was found dead in the woods of Lampang province, northern Thailand, on Sunday. The police are still searching for the deceased’s missing girlfriend.

Police arrested a 44 year old Thai man named Chaiwat Boonkarin under suspicion of murder and concealing a corpse on Monday. Initially, he denied the charges. After being interrogated all night, he confessed to killing 17 year old Woramet “Ben” Taota, a dual Thai-British citizen. Chaiwat was released from prison for sex crimes less than eight months ago.

On Saturday, 17 year old Woramet “Ben” Taota went for a motorbike ride with a 16 year old Thai girl named Surapitchaya, or “Ping Pong,” in his hometown of Lampang at around 4pm.

A local rubbish collector discovered Ben lying dead in the forest in Ban Than, San Dorn Gaew subdistrict, Mae Tha district on Sunday. Police from Mae Tha Police Station and Lampang Provincial Police travelled to the scene with forensic officers, doctors, and Tanna Krua Forest Rescue workers.

Police say that Ben’s face was covered in blood and there were signs that his face and head were beaten with a blunt object. Police say there was a hole in his face, similar to a bullet hole, but he was not shot.

At the scene, police found a black shoulder bag, a power bank, and an ID card. Ben’s phone and cash were missing, opening up the possibility that he was robbed, police said. There were no signs of struggle which suggests Ben was murdered somewhere else and his body was dumped in the forest.

A team continues to search for Ping Pong who has been missing since Saturday. The commander of Lampang Provincial Police Force Pol. Maj. Gen. Mongkhon Samphawaphol said that the police are trying to track her phone signal but haven’t found anything so far. She hasn’t made any contact with her family.

Ben’s Thai mother “Ooy” said that her son said goodbye to her on Saturday evening and told her that he was going to work with his friends.

Ben’s grandmother Lilian Graham, in the UK, said…

“Ben was with a girl and they went to the forest to meet a man. But something must have happened. And the men killed Ben.”

Ben’s 60 year old British father Steven Graham, a businessman, is on his way to Thailand to speak to detectives.

Pol. Maj. Gen. Mongkhon said that Chaiwat, the alleged killer, is connected to drug dealing in the area. He has allegedly known the teenagers for a long time.

Chaiwat has not revealed his motive for killing Ben, but police are not ruling out the possibility that the murder was a drug deal gone wrong. The accused has not yet provided information about the whereabouts of Ping Pong. Sniffer dogs will search the area today.

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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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