TAPAH (Perak) • Police have arrested a workshop owner and three of his family members on suspicion that they were involved in the murder of at least four people in the last three years at their home, which is located in a rural area of Perak.
Reports say the bodies of those they killed were burned and their ashes and bones thrown into a nearby river. Those arrested were the 57-year-old mechanic, his 20-year-old son and two other family members, including at least one of his young daughters.
Police sources say the main suspect has a history of involvement with secret societies and crime.
The police yesterday took the suspect and his son back to their home to show them where parts of the bodies might have been buried.
A police excavator and dog unit were at a village, about 55km from Tapah in southern Perak. Tapah is a town that travellers often pass through while driving up to Cameron Highlands.
The case harked back to the gruesome murder in a Selangor farm in 2010 of cosmetics millionaire Sosilawati Lawiya, her driver, a bank officer and her lawyer over a botched land deal. Their remains were hacked and burned, and later thrown into a river. A court in May 2013 ruled that former lawyer N. Pathmanabhan and three of his farmhands carried out the murder.
Sources say that in the latest case, the murders started with a 57-year-old man who was reported missing in October 2012 after he went to see the workshop owner.
This was followed by a tour bus operator, 56, who went missing in March last year. A 54-year old vehicle spare parts dealer also went missing after meeting the suspect some time last year.
In August this year, the son of a 46-year-old land broker reported that his father went missing after he went to the suspect's house.
Said a police source: "His (the workshop owner's) older son used to help the man with the servicing of the vehicles, while the other son was jobless.
"He is good at his job and no one thought he could commit murder."
The accused owed the spare parts dealer over RM60,000 (S$19,600). The dealer was not seen again after he went to the workshop to demand payment. The accused has some 30 dogs at his home-workshop to keep intruders out.
The land broker was believed to have been murdered after a failed land deal. The broker and the accused had done some land deals together in the past, sources say.
Several people living nearby described the main suspect as a reserved man. "He never mingled or spoke much to us. He was very secretive," said one neighbour. "I was told he was up in Cameron Highlands whenever I went looking for him."
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK