The hunt for the killers of two British tourists on Koh Tao has come up empty after DNA evidence didn’t match a man identified by police as their leading suspect.
Police said Christopher Alan Ware would be released as he was no longer considered a suspect, while new information from forensic examiners was released.
DNA samples taken from cigarettes found near the crime scene on a Koh Tao beach as well as from one of the victims matched none of the 12 suspects considered thus far by police, including Ware, nine foreign workers and two other tourists, according to authorities.
Three cigarettes were also found 50 meters away from the spot the victims’ bodies were discovered. According to Morning News, one had red lipstick on it. Another one contained a mixture of two people’s DNA while the third cigarette had DNA from a different man.
The different DNA found in the cigarettes prompted speculation by police that there might be more than one killer.
DNA test of semen taken found from Hannah Witheridge’s body found it belonged to two different men, Royal Thai Police adviser Jarumporn Suramanee said last night.
Despite rampant speculation, there’s been no confirmation whether the sexual intercourse was consensual or not.
Meanwhile the families of both victims arrived in Thailand this morning. The British embassy will bring them to Royal Thai Police in Bangkok for a briefing on the investigation.
Pol. Gen. Jarumporn says the police do not have the authority to hold Ware, the British friend of the victims who requested to return home as he is not a suspect.
If further evidence came to light implicating Ware, police said they would contact UK officials.
In a message to Britain’s foreign secretary published later Wednesday, deputy prime minister Tanasak Patimapragorn expressed his “profound regret and sadness” at the deaths. “(The government) attaches highest priority to protecting safety of foreign nationals residing and visiting Thailand,” he said, adding that Prayuth had instructed authorities to conduct a “transparent and thorough” investigation into the case.
Forensic investigators are also awaiting the results of DNA tests on a blonde hair found in Witheridge’s hand and traces of semen, according to the findings of a post-mortem examination carried out on Wednesday. “The results are expected within 24 hours so everything will become clear tomorrow (Thursday),” forensic police chief Pornchai Sutheerakhun, told reporters after the autopsy.
“The female victim suffered cuts to her head… while the male was beaten on the head… but water found in his lungs suggests he may have died from drowning,” he said, adding cuts on Miller’s hands showed signs of a struggle. The wounds were inflicted by “a sharp, hard object… and (they were) hit hard with a rock,” he added. A bloodied garden hoe was also found near the crime scene.
Thai police have pinned hopes on DNA results yielding a breakthrough in the three-day investigation. But conflicting details over the focus of the police inquiry, released by different figures in a force which rarely centralises its information, have created a confused picture.
Prayuth on Tuesday urged investigators to conclude the cases “swiftly” and raised concern over the impact on the country’s image. With the start of the tourist high season just two months away, the junta had vowed to restore the nation’s reputation as the “Land of Smiles”, embarking on a clean-up of resorts after a series of complaints about scams, assaults and even police extortion.
Additional reporting from AFP