A heavily-tattooed California man has been questioned and temporarily released after the grisly discovery of a part of a baby's head, a baby's foot, a heart and other human body parts in express shipments bound for Nevada in the US.
Bang Phongphang police, who were alerted by DHL Express International's Thailand unit, apprehended Ryan Edward McPherson and interrogated him for four hours starting at 10pm on Saturday, with US Embassy officials present, before taking his fingerprints and letting him leave without filing charges against him.
A police source said yesterday that the suspect, aged 31, had left for Cambodia but promised to return to Thailand on November 25 and cooperate with police.
Police learned from him that he was visiting Thailand for the first time and a tuk-tuk 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 sent them to some people based in the US "just to spook them for fun".
Another foreign man was reportedly also detained and interviewed together with McPherson, but Bang Phongphang police did not mention a second person.
Case officer Pol Lieutenant Suphoj Kaewcharoen said the five human objects were contained in five acrylic boxes filled with formalin that were packed into three cardboard boxes.
An infant's head with its scalp and lower part sliced off was in one box, while a box had an infant's right foot sliced into three parts. A box had a piece of human skin with a tiger tattoo and a tear on it and Thai lettering saying "a stab wound". One box had a piece of human skin with a tattoo and the last box had a human heart.
Anirut Nilla, a package sorter, said the three parcels were sent from a DHL service depot near MBK Centre with a label identifying them as toys, but an X-ray showed acrylic boxes with an orange fluid inside, prompting him to open them. He then notified police.
Chananyarak Petcharat, managing director of DHL Express Thailand and Indochina, said the company was fully cooperating with police and providing them with information.
She said that even though the shipment was paid for in cash, it could be traced back to the sender.
The company has installed X-ray equipment at all of its service stations. Every shipment from its service points or drop boxes nationwide would be scanned at the service centre before forwarding to its destination, she said.
Asst Prof Udomsak Hunwijit, a senior Chulalongkorn University coroner, confirmed that the parts were human but DNA tests were pending to determine whether the infant parts were from the same individual, and likewise with the pieces of skin and heart.
The heart had hole where it had been pierced, he said.
Whoever had dissected the body appeared to possess the skills of a medical professional, he said.
The DNA identification might fail if the body parts had been immersed in the formalin for too long. A working committee on the DNA probe would be set up today, he added.
The three parcels were addressed to three people in Las Vegas - Stk Media, c/o Eugene Johnson, 3070 W Post Road; R Jene, 2697 Ruthe Duarte Avenue; and Ryan Edward McPherson, 2913 Benrado Lane.
Details emerged that the sender of the three packages was a Eugene Johnson residing at 865 Wang Mai, Rama I Road, Pathum Wan district in Bangkok.
Police are searching areas around Pathum Wan reachable by tuk-tuk in 30 minutes.
The source said the most likely place where the parts were bought was the Khlong Thom wholesale market.