BANGKOK — Ten people have been questioned in connection with a suspected abduction and sexual assault of a promotional model, who was found dead at the lobby of a condominium earlier this week, police said Thursday.
Signs of rape were found on Thitima “Bell” Noraphanpiphat, 25, according to the police. Thitima was found dead some time after a man was seen carrying her, while unconscious, into his apartment room in the early hours of Tuesday. The man also boasted online of a sexual encounter with her, though he denied any wrongdoing.
Preliminary examination suggests Thitima died of acute heart attack, but police have yet to establish a clear cause of death pending a more thorough autopsy, police spokesman Krissana Pattanacharoen said.
“We have not decisively determined her cause of death or ruled out any possibility until we receive the autopsy report,” the spokesman said.
Thitima was a popular model, or pretty, with over 62,000 followers on her Facebook.
Thitima’s relatives have called her death suspicious. CCTV footage at the condominium where she was found dead shows a man, later identified as 24-year-old Rachadech Wongtabutr, carrying her unconscious body into his room before taking her down to the lobby several hours later.
Rachadech, who also works as a model, said he contacted Thitima’s friends to pick her up after leaving her at a sofa.
He also posted a video of himself filming the unconscious Thitima, stroking her head, and making sexually charged reference.
“I didn’t ply her with booze, she was naughty on her own,” his caption says.
“I don’t know whether my 100th wife can make it. She’s wearing my clothes, which I put them on for her,” reads another post.
The video, which struck many netizens as disturbing, led police to raid Rachadech’s room soon after Thitima was found dead. Police said they had to break down the door because Rachadech wouldn’t let them in.
He was then taken to the police station for interrogation. According to Rachadech’s testimony, he and Thitima met at a house party in Bang Bua Thong where they were hired to work as entertainers.
After some drinks, the two became intimate and they had casual conversation with each other, but Thitima became inebriated so he decided to take her to his room with her consent.
“I don’t know when she passed away, maybe she had her health problems or was dehydrated, but when I brought her to my room I was able to hear her breathe,” Rachadech said.
Thitima’s family said they suspected foul play, and vowed to withhold a cremation ceremony for her until the investigation has been resolved.
But Rachadech denied drugging or having sex with her. He said he only took her into his room to change her clothes, because they were wet and revealing.
“I can confirm that there were no drugs involved at the party and I’m 100 percent innocent,” Rachadech said. “I have no reason to do anything like that because we clicked with each other during the party. The forensic report will reveal the truth,”
Police said they found no irregularities inside his room, and he had agreed to give a DNA sample.
Rachadech was eventually released without any charges. Krissana said 10 people have been questioned so far, but investigation is needed before they pressed charges against anyone.
CCTV footage showing Rachadech carrying Thitima’s unconscious body on Sept. 15-16.