Police breakthrough after teen’s mystery death

POLICE are hoping to speedily secure arrest warrants for those allegedly implicated in the death of a 15-year-old schoolboy at a boarding school in Nakhon Sawan’s Muang district earlier this month.

“This case isn’t very complicated but, as it involves a minor, we have to tread carefully and work with the related agencies as per the law. I won’t let the culprit(s) walk free. We should soon have some good news [regarding the arrest warrants],” said Nakhon Sawan police chief Pol Maj-General Damrong Phetchpong after a meeting with investigators on Monday.

Tapakorn “Chaidaen” Sapsin came from Tak province but had been living and studying at the tutoring school for almost two years to prepare for the military cadet academy entrance exam along with 10 other children.

He was injured on June 9, later fell into a coma and was rushed on June 12 to Sawan Pracharak Hospital, where he was treated in the intensive care unit before passing away the next day.

Police General Hospital’s Institute of Forensic Medicine spokesman Pol Colonel Wathee Atsawuthtamangkoon said the post-mortem conducted on June 15 showed he had died from bleeding in his stomach and that his internal organs had sustained traumatic injuries. The lab test result for any substances in his body would come out in 30 days, Wathee added.

Muang Nakhon Sawan superintendent Pol Colonel Sutthinan Khongchaemdee said police believe Tapakorn died from injuries he had sustained from “an accident while playing with friends” – as his tutors and others had initially insisted – or as a result of being fatally assaulted.

A police source said belief in the latter possibility stemmed from Tapakorn’s parents’ scepticism over their only son’s sudden and serious injuries.

The source also said a tutor had reportedly admitted to punishing the boy by hitting him 20 times with a baseball after he argued with the school owner’s mother-in-law because she wouldn’t allow him to use his mobile phone to call home.

Sutthinan said police had conducted extensive inquiries with students but the case had been held up because interviewing teenagers required a public prosecutor and a multidisciplinary team to be present and therefore took longer to organise.

While lodging a police complaint over Tapakorn’s death on June 14, Pisanu Sapsin, 47, said he and wife lived in Tak but kept in regular phone contact with their son, who was studying to fulfil his dream of becoming a military officer. He recalled that Tapakorn appeared absent-minded and troubled as if he was having a hard time during his latest visit home, but Pisanu assumed he just had a normal teenager’s problems and so the family let him continue studying at the school.

“On June 12, we heard our son was in a coma in hospital,” he said. “A doctor said he had a head wound [which required seven stitches], a broken arm, a blood infection and that his internal organs were in trauma.

“I was so shocked and puzzled how and why he could have sustained such serious injuries. I asked the school owner, who told me my son was playing with friends on June 9 when he accidentally tripped and hit his head on the railings of a staircase.

“So why did the school owner seize my son’s phone to prevent him from calling home about that accident? Why did they keep him at the school until he had shock episodes and passed out before sending him to hospital on June 12 and only then informed me?

“I think my son was assaulted. I want police to investigate this case. If my suspicions turn out to be true, I will take legal action [against those involved in the assault].”