'Jack the Ripper' Caught Snoozing on a Train

Somkid Pumpuang had been paroled for good behavior
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2019 12:10 PM CST
How a Serial Killer's Scar Gave Him Away
In this release by Royal Thai Police. Thai police officers escort Somkid Poompuang, second from right, after he was arrested at the Pak Chong train station in Nakhon Ratchasima province, northeastern of Thailand, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019.   (Royal Thai Police via AP)

Thailand isn't exactly known for its serial killers—only two exist on record—but after imprisoning one, they let him go, and he killed again. Then a young couple spotted him while traveling by train to Bangkok on Wednesday, the Bangkok Post reports. "That mark over his left eyebrow confirmed to me that the man was Somkid [Pumpuang]," the boyfriend told local media. The passenger already looked suspicious, wearing a hat and blue medical mask as he slept alone, but the scar over his eye looked too much like the one in wanted posters. So the boyfriend sent a photo to police, who rushed the train and arrested the 55-year-old. How all this happened is worth a read:

  • The so-called "Jack the Ripper of Thailand" peddled in charm and lies. In 2005, he approached his first victim—a woman who had just sung in a karaoke bar—telling her he was a talent manager looking for the next big thing, per a Crime & Investigation Network documentary. Like all his victims, she was found strangled in a hotel room.

  • Somkid murdered four more women in the next few months, posing once as a travel executive and once as a gemstone mine owner. Police saw similarities but couldn't pin him down, per the Washington Post. "In Thailand, we've never really had a serial killer—except for the well-known case of Si Ouey, which happened ages ago when I was very young," said Police Maj. Gen. Winai Thongsong.
  • All five women are "believed to be involved in the sex and nightlife industry," says the South China Morning Post, but the BBC identifies them "as singers in nightclubs, or as masseuses in hotels."
  • After Somkid got reckless and called from a victim's phone, police spotted his location and arrest him later in 2005. His eventual death sentence was commuted to life in prison because he had confessed, and this May, he was let out on parole for good behavior, per AFP.
  • Then Somkid claimed a sixth victim, a divorced hotel maid who believed he was a lawyer and moved in with him. Somkid told police that he murdered her Sunday in a "fit of rage" after realizing he couldn't afford a car he had promised her and tried to break up with her, per the Bangkok Post. But police suspect he planned it.
  • Now under pressure, Thai officials are considering new steps (like ankle monitors) to supervise parolees who have committed violent crimes, per the Bangkok Post. The head of the Corrections Dept., Narat Sawettanan, publicly admitted Somkid's release was a mistake.
  • But Thai prisons are plagued by overcrowding: "There are 370,000 inmates nationwide, which is three times the capacity of the prisons, and that leads to reductions in sentences even for serious offences," Narat told AsiaOne.
(A serial killer says she killed a woman. But who is she?)

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