Mystery killings in US leave Thai families distraught

national September 07, 2018 01:00

By MARISA CHIMPRABHA
THE NATION

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KORNKAMOL LEENAVARAT left Thailand for Seattle, Washington on August 21. Just two weeks later she was dead, found in her apartment along with the body of her roommate Thiti-orn Chotchuangsap.



The only daughter and youngest child in her family, Kornkamol returned home early last month to celebrate Mother’s Day on August 12 with her father and older brothers; her mother had already passed away.

Seattle police are investigating the murders of both Washington University post-graduate students.

Reports of the killings detailed how the victims’ bodies were riddled with knife wounds, causing alarm in Seattle that such a vicious act could occur in the quiet residential area close to the university and in a city regarded as one of the safest in the United States.

Kornkamol was studying law in Seattle, having graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Thammasat University and attained a master’s degree, also in law, from a university in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Her family lives in Pathum Thani province, where they are well known, due to some of them being local politicians. They say Kornkamol’s ultimate goal was to one day become a judge.

The only information to have emerged so far about Thiti-orn is that she was from Samut Sakhon province. 

Deputy immigration police commissioner Itthipon Itthisarnronnachai said yesterday he had been notified that both bodies had been discovered on Tuesday bearing multiple stab wounds.

He declined to speculate on details surrounding the deaths, in particular on speculation in US media reports that this was a murder or murder-suicide.

The murder-suicide theory was raised following a report that the apartment was locked from the inside when a building manager went to check it at the request of Kornkamon’s family, made through their relative in the US.

Kornkamol contacted her family almost daily, so they were immediately concerned after they failed to reach her and university administration officers told them she had been absent from class for many days.

Ittipon confirmed the report that the room was locked from the inside when the building manager tried to gain entry, apparently adding substance to the theory there was nobody else involved. 

Moreover US police have declared that they are not seeking any suspects.

Speaking at the same press conference, Pol Lt General Suthipong Wongpin, immigration police commissioner, said immigration records showed that Kornkamol had left Thailand on August 21 and Thiti-orn on August 27.

Immigration police will liaise with relevant authorities to help the families of both women travel to the US.

An elder brother of Kornkamol, Weerasak Leenavarat, said that his family is in deep mourning for the loss of their friendly and lively daughter and sister. 

It was especially traumatic, he said, for their father, whose health was already poor. 

The rest of the family is now staying close to take special care of him at this time.

Weerasak posted a series of photos on his Facebook page of the day Kornkamol flew to the US. The images show everybody smiling as they see off a beaming Kornkamol at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Weerasak called Kornkamol “our little sister who was always lively, friendly and brave”. 

A relative wrote that the last words Kornkamol told her were: 

“Don’t be so sad. I will only go to the US for a short period. I will come back very soon.”

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