Key witness emerges in Bangkok body-in-freezer case

Police have spoken to a key female witness about the case in which a dismembered body was found in the freezer at a Bangkok building and are confident they will have significant evidence this week.

Police raided the building used by an alleged American passport-forging gang in Phra Khanong district last Friday and found the body of a foreign male in the freezer.

They interrogated the alleged leader of the gang, who was eventually identified as Herbert Gery Lefron, 63, of Baltimore, Maryland, for 16 hours on Friday to try and establish who killed the man. Lefron had previously used another alias.

However, Lefron insisted he was not the murderer and that he only dismembered the body of Hungarian national Charles Edward Ditlefsen to fit in the freezer. He claimed the killer was his friend, who had since died of cancer.

Dismembered body found in fridge during police raid in Bangkok

  • Thai police discovered a dismembered body in a large padlocked refrigerator on Sep 23, 2016 when they raided a commercial building in Bangkok’s Soi Sukhumvit 56 to arrest foreign suspects allegedly involved in passport forgery and drug trafficking.
  • Police arrested three foreign suspects, a Briton and two Americans, in the raid.
  • Police also seized three pistols and a certain amount of crystal meth or "ice" and marijuana.
  • The dismembered body was later identified as a foreign man of unknown nationality.
  • The body parts were found wrapped in black plastic bags inside a two-metre-tall and two-metre-wide commercial refrigerator on the building's ground floor.
  • It was suspected that the person had been dead about a month.
  • While police escorted a suspect to get his passport from a safe box, the suspect grabbed a gun and shot at at an officer three times before the suspect was apprehended.
  • The three suspects were later sent to Phra Khanong Police Station/
  • Police arrested a British man and two American men. Also taken away for questioning were the Myanmar maid and her husband.
  • Police arrested a British man and two American men. Also taken away for questioning were the Myanmar maid and her husband.
 

Police do not believe his story, and Bangkok police chief Lt-General Sanit Mahathaworn said that Lefron's claim contradicted the evidence.

He said the "important" female witness was close to Lefron and could be the key to the case.

"This unidentified witness will be interrogated to link the connection to other witnesses' claims, evidence, and the forensic examination, which will make everything become clear," Sanit said.

"I am now satisfied with the evidence and the witnesses we have. However, it will take time for the officers to investigate carefully every aspect and everything should be clear by next week [this week].

Foreigners arrested as Thai police find dead body in fridge

  • Thai police raided a Bangkok building Friday and arrested five foreigners after a shootout, discovering guns, crystal meth, fake passports and a dead body hidden in a freezer, officers said.
  • The suspects include three English-speaking men and a Burmese maid and her husband, according to Bangkok's police chief Sanit Mahathavorn.
  • Police said they are still confirming the nationalities of the three English speakers, who were reported in local media to be two Americans and one Briton.
  • One of the suspects grabbed a gun and opened fire on police during the raid, injuring an officer, police told reporters.
  • Officers initially told media it was a woman but later determined it was a "foreign man with blond hair," said Sanit.
  • The three foreigners are suspected to belong to a passport forgery ring.
  • They are charged on five counts including attempting to kill an official on duty, resisting arrest, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, forging official documents and concealing a corpse.
  • Forensic officers are working to identify the deceased.
  • Police then discovered a dead body, carved up into pieces, inside a large freezer on the ground floor.

"It should be noted that if we want to understand who Lefron really is, we have to ask the persons close to him."

He promised that police would bring the killer to justice.

After being interrogated, Lefron was taken to Police General Hospital early yesterday morning for rest.

Lefron told police that Ditlefsen was killed because of a US$60,000 (S$81 million) debt.

Police described Lefron as bad-tempered and sadistic, based on information they had received.

"He did not speak clearly and police still do not believe him," Sanit said. "However, he already has his lawyer to defend himself as per international justice standards."

Sanit also revealed that the investigation team aimed to learn how Lefron used a fake passport to enter the country and find if more than one person was involved in the murder.

Read also: Police say 2 held in Bangkok frozen body case are American