American passport forger admits cutting up body of man strangled by gang

Lefron, 63, claimed the gang members strangled the man until he passed out.
PHOTO: The Nation

The leader of a gang of American passport forgers, Herbert Grey Lefron, has confessed to cutting up the body of a man in his 40s

Lefron, 63, claimed they strangled the man until he passed out and found the next day that the victim was dead, the source said. The crime occurred eight years ago. Two days later, Lefron bought a commercial freezer - which police found the man's body parts in during a raid on a building in Sukhumvit Soi 56 in Bangkok last week. He also bought a saw to cut the body up, as the man was too tall to fit into the freezer.

However, police don't fully believe Lefron's confession, as some points contradicted evidence, the source said.

Bangkok police chief Lt-General Sanit Mahathaworn said earlier that police had identified the man whose body was dismembered and found in the freezer. He was believed to be a US citizen but his identity will be checked thoroughly before being revealed.

Sanit said police suspected the victim may have been involved in passport forgery with three Americans arrested in the raid. It was believed the victim was killed due to various motives that police were now mulling over and his body was kept for a reason, he said.

The victim's body - chopped into six pieces - was discovered in a padlocked commercial freezer during the raid.

Sanit said the alleged gang leader Herbert Grey Lefron, 63, could face an additional charge of murder, depending on confirmation of forensic evidence and some more information.

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.

In regard to tests for fingerprints on black plastic bags the body parts were in and the fridge's lock, a police source said a fingerprint on a plastic bag was initially identified as belonging to suspect Aaron Thomas Gabel, while a fingerprint of Lefron was on the lock. This discovery suggested that the two men were involved in concealing the body.

The source said three safe boxes were also seized during the raid. Three pistols and ammunition were found in the first box. A 17-inch saw blade that was not sold in Thailand, plus several other saw blades and two angle grinders were found in the second safe, while the third box had a tape cassette and an old brown paper bag in it.

Autopsy experts at Chulalongkorn Hospital said yesterday the man whose dismembered body was found in the freezer was initially thought to be of Hungarian ethnicity or from the southern part of Eastern Europe, while police said he was of a US citizen.

The man, aged 40-50 years old, was of 179.5cm tall (plus or minus 5cm). They were awaiting results of toxicity tests to say if died from suffocation or poisoning, the hospital's Forensic Medicine Department head Dr Udomsak Hoonwijit said. The autopsy team was unable to pinpoint to the time of death as the body parts had been frozen for a long time, he said.

This information came from the computerised X-ray autopsy, the actual autopsy of body parts and the dental examination, would help narrow the police's investigation, he said. Police still had to wait for toxicity test results to determine cause of death. He said the doctors' team would submit a report to Phra Khanong investigators to help them make the case more compete.

At 1pm, Sanit joined the questioning of Lefron, who was brought from Police General Hospital to Phra Khanong Police Station for questioning. Sanit said things should become clear soon.