Thai police say they are investigating whether a woman arrested this week on suspicion of murdering her friend with cyanide may have done the same to at least 12 other victims in a spate of killings that has transfixed the kingdom.
The suspect, who police have identified only by the name Am, was arrested on Tuesday for the alleged murder of Siriporn Kanwong, Deputy National Police Commissioner Gen. Surachate Hakparn told CNN.
Siriporn was last seen on CCTV footage with Am before she fainted and died, and an autopsy later found traces of cyanide in her system, Surachate said.
Am’s lawyer, Thannicha Akesuwannawat, told local media Thairath TV on Wednesday that her client denies any involvement in Siriporn’s death.
“She has [an] explanation, with evidence in hand,” Thannicha said, declining to elaborate further citing legal reasons.
Investigators are now looking into at least 12 other suspected murder cases where the victims had links to Am and similar causes of death, said Surachate. CNN has attempted to reach Am’s lawyer for a response to those allegations.
Surachate said one woman who was allegedly targeted by Am came forward to authorities after news of her arrest broke.
The individual told police she was poisoned in 2020 but was able to make it to a hospital where doctors resuscitated her and also found cyanide in her system, he said.
Surachate said the witness was too afraid to file a case against Am at the time because the accused is the wife of a senior police officer, but she gained courage after hearing about the other alleged cases.
In the potentially linked cases currently being investigated by police, all the victims ate or drank with Am in the run up to their deaths.
“After they ate together or drank something together, later they were dead,” Surachate said. Investigators believe the killings may have had a financial motive, primarily debts. “She owed money to many people,” Surachate said.
Press photos showed Am wearing a face mask while being led into court by police in Bangkok on Wednesday. She was remanded in custody while police investigate the allegations.
The case has generated huge local media interest this week in Thailand and has prompted others to come forward to authorities with their suspicion that their loved ones may also be victims.