Thai woman has been accused murdering 12 of her friends with cyanide

The Thai police claim to have arrested  a woman suspected of poisoning twelve coworkers and acquaintances with cyanide.

Sararat "Am" Rangsiwuthaporn, 35, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder on Tuesday after her 32-year-old friend Siriporn Khanwong collapsed on April 14 during a vacation to the western Thai province of Ratchaburi with Sararat. Autopsy results detected cyanide in Siriporn's system and determined that cardiac failure was the cause of her death. Police detained Sararat after CCTV footage and she is currently detained at the Central Women’s Correctional Institution. 

This month, the victim's family raised suspicions after she died during a vacation with Sararat. Following an investigation, police stated this week that they believe Sararat murdered eleven others, including a former boyfriend. 

The police alleged that she was murdered for financial gain. Sararat has denied every accusation. The Thai government has denied her parole. Police say that two weeks ago, she and her companion traveled to Ratchaburi province, west of Bangkok, where they participated in a Buddhist protection ritual at a river.

Her companion Siriporn Khanwong collapsed and died on the riverbank shortly thereafter. During the postmortem, traces of cyanide were detected in her body, according to the police. When she was found, her phone, money, and bags were also absent.

Surachate Hakparn, the deputy national police director of Thailand, stated on Wednesday that there are two more potential victims in connection with Sararat, bringing the total number of alleged murders to 12. Two of the victims were female police officers.

Authorities stated that the other alleged victims died in a similar manner, but provided no further details. The homicides reportedly began in 2020. The authorities were not able to identify all of the victims. However, they did identify Sararat's erstwhile partner and two female police officers.

Sararat's partner, a senior police officer from the province of Ratchaburi, where her acquaintance was killed, has also been questioned by the Thai police. Thai local media recently reported the couple's separation.

Authorities are investigating whether alleged victims of Sararat were targeted for financial gain. Most of their families have reported either vanishing personal belongings or missing funds from their bank accounts. According to the police, Sararat knew all of the victims and may have been financially motivated. 

One associate, who police believe was the intended victim, lent her 250,000 baht (£5,900; $7,300), according to police. After having lunch with Sararat, the woman vomited and collapsed, but she recovered.

However, the families did not suspect foul play at the time, according to the officers, indicating that amassing evidence could be difficult. According to police, some bodies had also been cremated. A lethal dose of cyanide can be detected in corpses several months after death. The poison deprives cells of oxygen, which can lead to cardiac attacks. Early symptoms include nausea, vertigo, and shortness of breath.

Its use is strictly regulated in Thailand, and those caught with unauthorized access face two years in prison. In recent years, a number of Thai murderers match the profile of serial killers, including Somkid Pumpuang, also known as Kid the Ripper, who murdered five masseuses and nightclub singers between January and June 2005.