PHUKET CITY: At a crime re-enactment held yesterday morning it took nearly 200 policemen to prevent a crowd from lynching two teenagers who have confessed to the brutal stabbing murder of an elderly woman last month.
Police identified the pair as 19-year-old Hussadin “Mai” Wongrinyong of Phuket City and a 17-year-old male accomplice, whose name was withheld because of his age.
Oranuch Thamrong, 71, was murdered in a street robbery in broad daylight on May 14.
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Following two days of surveillance by a team of Phuket City Police investigators, the pair were taken into custody separately at 6am yesterday during coordinated raids on guesthouses in Rassada and Wichit.
Phuket City Police Inspector Wijak “The Magnet” Tarom, who led the investigation, said police planned the arrests to take place at a time when they knew the pair would be sleeping.
Mai and his accomplice confessed to the killing of Mrs Oranuch, saying the accomplice was riding the motorbike while Mai rode pillion and carried out the attack..
When the elderly woman resisted Mai’s efforts to snatch her gold necklace, he pushed her motorbike to the ground. He got off the bike and stabbed her twice before the pair sped off with the necklace, according to the confession.
The pair said they then burned their clothes and went to trade in the necklace at a gold shop at Tesco Lotus for 40,700 baht.
With the money they bought two small gold chains for themselves, then used the rest to buy ya bah (methamphetamines), police told a press conference at Phuket City Police Station earlier today.
During the emotionally charged conference, Mrs Oranuch’s relatives set up a portrait of the victim behind an urn containing her ashes. The pair, with the minor’s face covered in a balaclava, then prostrated themselves before the remains of the victim to ask forgiveness.
When asked by the relatives why they needed to kill the victim when it would have been easier to just steal the necklace and flee, the pair said they only meant to rob her.
Phuket Provincial Police Commander Pigad Thantipong gave the investigation team a 50,000-baht reward for tracking down the suspects.
After the press conference, the suspects were taken to re-enact the murder on Soi 7 of the Jomthong Thani housing estate, off Kwang Road in Tambon Wichit.
When they arrived, a large crowd had gathered, many shouting “the killers should die”. There were also attempts by people – especially the relatives – to attack the two teens.
These efforts were easily thwarted by the 200-strong detail of officers in place to provide security.
After meeting to discuss the murder and many robberies taking place in Jomthong Thani, residents of the gated community voted to replace the security team and take other measures to improve safety.
Phuket City Police Superintendent Wanchai Ekpornpit promised to have his officers work more closely with local leaders.
Although not a part of Phuket City proper, Wichit currently falls under the jurisdiction of the Phuket City Police. However, Phuket Provincial Police have announced plans to establish a new independent police district for Wichit on land donated by the Hongyok family.
Tambon Karon, currently under the protection of the Chalong Police, is also slated to get its own police department.
— Khunakorn Terdkiatkhachorn
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