Thai police hunt for serial rapist linked to 12 cases involving elderly women

BANGKOK - A man in Thailand who has been on the police wanted list for four years for cases of rape and murder involving elderly women has struck again, challenging police who are in a race against time to stop him.

The man raped a 73-year-old woman in Nakhon Pathom early Sunday, taking the total number of cases linked to him to 12, Bangkok Post reported on Monday.

The newspaper said he targeted elderly women, though one of his first victims was in her 30s. Most of his victims were in their 70s and two were murdered. Some of the victims did not make a police report, Bangkok Post said.

Police, who described the man as highly dangerous, finally released pictures of the suspect and appealed for information. The Central Investigation Bureau's acting chief Pol Lt Gen Thitirat Nonghanphitak gave his subordinates two weeks to bring the rapist to justice, Bangkok Post quoted a source as saying.

In the latest case, the man broke into a house in Nakhon Pathom where the victim was alone at home. He poisoned the victim's dog before entering the house through the window, the newspaper reported.

The victim, who was in the bedroom, said she was awakened by a man dressed in black and with his face covered. He threatened her with a knife before raping her. He also made off with 5,000 baht (S$207) in cash and a Buddhist amulet.

"We will scour the area within a 10 kilometre radius from the latest crime scene in a bid to nail the culprit," The Nation newspaper quoted Assistant National Police Commissioner Lt-General Sopon Pisuttiwong as saying.

He spoke to reporters after leading a team of officers to inspect the house of the victim.

"According to his victims, he is about 170 centimetres tall and in his 40s. He is robust and strong," he said.

The 43-year-old son of the latest victim said he slept in his paddy field on Sunday because a pump was turned on. "I was just about 300 metres away," he was quoted as saying.

He said he was deeply shocked when he saw his mother leaving the house in tears in the middle of the night.

"My mother saw part of his face. He partially removed his hood during her ordeal," he said.