BANGKOK - An arrest warrant will be issued for an American man who allegedly stole infant body parts from a medical museum and tried to courier them to the United States.
Ryan Edward McPherson, 31, was apparently captured on surveillance cameras entering Siriraj Hospital's medical museum recently before the body parts were reported missing, The Nation newspaper quoted a police source as saying.
Dr Udom Kachintorn, dean of Siriraj Hospital's faculty of medicine, had reported that five body parts had gone missing from a museum inside the Adulyadej Wikrom Building after McPherson was last seen entering the building a month ago, The Nation reported.
"We want to find out if the body parts had been carried out in (McPherson's) backpack, or if he bribed the museum staff" to take them out, the dean was quoted as saying.
Three of the five body parts were allegedly stolen from the Forensic Science Division and the other two from the Division of Anatomical Science in the same museum, Dr Udom said. He did not specify which parts came from which division.
Siriraj Hospital filed a complaint with Bangkok Noi police on Monday and museum custodians were interviewed about the surveillance footage and the case of the missing parts.
McPherson faces charges of theft, possessing stolen items and falsely declaring the types of items being posted.
The American from California had left Thailand for Cambodia after he was questioned and released on Sunday without being charged as Thai police did not find anything suspicious then.
Police were called to the DHL service centre in Pathum Thani province on the outskirts of Bangkok on Saturday after workers found the body parts inside parcel boxes as they were scanning shipments for delivery.
Staff member Anirut Ninla, 43, told Bangkok Post that three parcels were picked up from the DHL outlet at MBK shopping mall with items inside being declared as "toys". He alerted the police after an x-ray inspection found irregularities.
The first parcel contained the partial head and face of an infant, said the newspaper. The second parcel had an infant's right foot cut horizontally into three pieces and the third parcel had two pieces of human skin with Thai magic tattoos known for danger protection, along with a human heart, according to the report. The organs were immersed in formalin in clear acrylic boxes.
The parcels were headed for Las Vegas, The Nation reported.
McPherson had earlier told police that he was visiting Thailand for the first time and a tuk-tuk, or a three-wheel motorcycle, took him from Siam Centre for a ride. He said he was taken to a place he could not remember where he found the human fragments and decided to send them to some people in the US "just to spook them for fun".
Some Thais practise black magic and believe that supernatural power comes from infant body parts if the rites are performed by monks or sorcerers. They believe that having the items provide protection and business success and can ward off bad luck. Such black magic rituals are also observed among some Chinese communities.
This is not the first time infant remains have been found in Thailand. In 2012, police discovered six human foetuses which had been roasted and covered in gold leaf as part of an apparent black magic ritual, Agence France-Presse reported.
In 2010, more than 2,000 illegally aborted foetuses were recovered at a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, CNN said. The smell of decay led investigators to the Phai-nguern Chotinaram temple in central Bangkok where they discovered the foetuses.
Three people were arrested, including two morticians who were charged with hiding the bodies.
He said McPherson was one of the two Westerners believed to be involved in the case, though police had earlier never referred to a second person. However, a second man was seen alongside McPherson in photographs published in several Thai-language newspapers yesterday.