Tangmo: Top Thai crime investigator debunks witness claims, calls for truth

Former police commissioner Kamronwit Toopkrajang dismisses the theory that Tangmo's leg was cut by the boat's propeller, gesturing with his hand in a rotational movement, which is inconsistent with the wound. Credit: Nation Thailand

A former top police crime investigator has come out of retirement to dismiss the story of Nida “Tangmo” Patcharaveerapong’s death, as put forth by her so-called friends, and call for the truth to come out.

In a video interview with Nation Thailand, Kamronwit Toopkrajang, former Lt-General and Commissioner at the Metropolitan Police Bureau, is seen sitting on a boat analyzing the details and considering all the likely scenarios that could have resulted in the Thai TV star’s death in the Chao Phraya River last Thursday.

An autopsy report released today indicates that Tangmo died of drowning. The pathologists involved were unable to determine key facts, including what caused the injury on Tangmo’s leg and whether she was trying to pee.

But if she were really trying to pee off the back of the boat, then why was her body found with her clothes perfectly in-tact, as if she had never tried to adjust them? Even her coat was still wrapped around her waist. Toopkrajang says the story is too far-fetched to believe.

“I can’t listen to it.”

Forensic examiners say they could not determine whether Tangmo had actually urinated before drowning, as her body had been in the water for an extended period of time and her bladder had not been preserve. They also could not determine whether the actress had fallen in accidentally or if she had been pushed.

They say the deep, 30-centimetre long cut on her leg was possibly caused by the boat’s propeller, which may have cut into a major artery, limiting her ability to swim.

Again, Toopkrajang says it’s inconsistent with the type of wound a spinning propeller would make, which would would tear up the flesh, instead of making a clean slice.

“[It’s] completely different from other kinds.”

Amazingly, examiners say they could not determine whether her leg was cut before or after her death. Really? Clearly she was still alive when she went under water, as she was still breathing, but she could not swim, indicating her leg was wounded before she drowned.

Sand was found in Tangmo’s lungs, implying she was in water shallow enough to breath in sand when her body hit the bottom on the river.

This may also indicate that the witnesses initially pointed police in the wrong direction, toward a deep area of the river. It might further explain why it took so long to recover Tangmo’s body.

“I think that the spot of the incident wasn’t that deep, if Tangmo fell off [the boat] and breathed in sand and dirt.”

To help answer these questions, Toopkrajang put forth his own conjectures for what really might have conspired that night, encouraging the police investigating the case to be honest and not take bribes to conceal the truth.

“I hope the police will work on the case honestly and directly. They were rich people, but they have to be in jail if they did something wrong.”

Currently, many of the witnesses’ claims remain unsubstantiated, leaving questions unanswered while suspicions abound. The police don’t believe them and have begun five nights of witness reenactments. In short, something smells fishy.

The witnesses claim the water was dark so they couldn’t see Tangmo. But a fancy speedboat would have lights and the river would have been lit at night with the surrounding city lights, as seen in the photographs taken on the boat that night.

Notably, none of the “friends” reported jumping overboard to save their drowning friend in distress.

During a Thai-style public apology recorded yesterday, Tangmo’s mother asked the late actress’ manager, “Gatick,” why she didn’t jump in to save her friend. She replied, “Mom, I can’t swim.” But netizens on social media were quick to uncover photos of her swimming.

It has further been revealed that Tangmo had adopted her manager’s daughter — who would gain a lot of money from the star’s life insurance, if her death can be proved an accident.

As police continue their investigation and the calendar marks one week since the death of Thailand’s beloved “Watermelon,” one thing is clear: a friend in need, is a friend indeed — unless you’re Tangmo.

Read a transcript of Nation Thailand’s (edited) interview with former police commissioner Kamronwit Toopkrajang in English…

First of all, the police should visit the restaurant where the group went to [for dinner]. Check the CCTV, check when they were in and out, the food they ordered. Any alcohol drinks?

Check the speed of the boat. Some locals told me that they found this boat so many times and always at high speed. In case the boat was at a high speed, the period from the restaurant to the scene of the incident spot shouldn’t be longer than 30 minutes.

Actually, people who travel by boat, have to go to the toilet first. Trying to pee at the back of the boat was impossible.

Other than that, the wound caused by a propeller is completely different from other kinds. (Indicates rotational movement.)

I think that the spot of the incident wasn’t that deep, if Tangmo fell off [the boat] and breathed in sand and dirt. Police should check her bodysuit also, [to see whether there is] any destroyed spot.

I hope the police will work on the case honestly and directly. There were rich people, but they have to be in jail if they did something wrong.

If I was on the boat and someone fell off, I would do everything to find the person. This is strange.

The people on the boat disappeared for a day before telling information to the police. Where were they? Were they preparing anything?

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Jay Shine

A longtime expat in Asia with a degree in journalism and creative writing. Highlights include writing for Condé Nast Traveller and Apple Music. In his spare time, Jay enjoys writing poetry, brewing traditional Chinese tea and lounging with his calico soi cat, Almond.

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