On Tuesday, the provincial court of Mukdahan issued a warrant for the arrest of the uncle of three-year-old girl “Nong Chompoo” who was found dead on a mountain last year.
Chaiphol Wipha, 44, is wanted for depriving a child of parental care, abandoning a child under nine years old in a way that caused her death, and tampering with a body to influence an autopsy and police investigation.
The warrant concerns the death of Orawan “Nong Chompoo” Wongsricha, who was found dead and naked on a mountain in Phu Pha Yon National Park, a few kilometres from her home in a village in Dong Luang district, on 14th May last year.
Police sources said the arrest warrant was based on evidence from clothing, shoes, three hairs whose owner was identified through DNA examination, 36 cut hairs from the girl, other forensic evidence, and witnesses’ accounts.
Police went to Chaiphol’s house in Ban Kok Kork village in tambon Kok Toom of Dong Luang district but he was not there.
The mystery surrounding the girl’s death dates back to 11th May 2020, when the toddler went missing from her home in Baan Kok Kork. The parents went to run an errand, so they left their elder daughter to look after her sister.
She reportedly told police that her little sister had simply wandered off and disappeared.
After a four-day search, Nong Chompoo was found dead and naked in a forest on Phu Lek Fai mountain, about two kilometres from her home.
An autopsy found evidence of physical assault and sexual violation.
Police doubted the girl could have walked up the hill by herself. They believed the culprit was close enough to the family enough for the girl to allow him to pick her up without any protest.
The case sparked a media frenzy, with two TV channels, in particular, showing daily updates for months.
The TV stations have been accused of trivialising the crime in pursuit of viewer ratings, and perhaps even interfering in the course of the investigation.
Chaiphol became a minor celebrity, was briefly in the show, had many fans, reportedly received huge donations and always insisted on his innocence.