Chiangrai Times – On the 10th August 2000 the body of Kirsty Sarah Jones, a 24 year old Welsh backpacker in her second month of a one year, round the world, travel, was found brutally raped and murdered in Aree Guesthouse, Chiang Mai.
The case received international attention and with mounting pressure from the press, the Chiang Mai police were accused of conducting a ‘shambolic police investigation’ according to the BBC. One suspect after another – mostly western – were paraded in front of the press, before lack of evidence forced the police to move on to the next suspect.
Within a couple of weeks, Dr. Tanin Bhoopat, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Forensic Medicine, had announced that the DNA evidence recovered from the body was that of an Asian male. In spite of this scientific evidence police continued to focus their investigation on westerners. Colonel Suthep Dejraksa, one of the investigating detectives at the time theorised that evidence was planted in the victim, “the farang murderer must have bought some Thai sperm from a tuk tuk driver,” he told Citylife magazine at the time. His claim was immediately disputed by Dr. Tanin who insisted that the evidence could not have been planted.
Today, Lieutenant General Suthep Dejraksa has risen to position of Commissioner of the 5th Region Police. He told CityNews two months ago that he still stood behind his theory that the guesthouse’s English owner, Andrew Gill, was the culprit and that the Asian DNA was planted.
Kirsty Jones’s mother, Sue Jones, has come to Thailand a few times over the years to keep the pressure on the police. Scotland Yard and police offers from the Dyfed-Powys Police in Wales have also been working closely with the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), which accepted the case as a Special Case in 2005.
Today, 9th August, Sue Jones, Andrew John, Detective Superintendent at Dyfed-Powys, representatives from the British Embassy and the DSI held a press conference in Chiang Mai.
“It still feels like yesterday when we heard what had happened to our daughter,” said a visibly emotional Jones. “Twelve years on we still feel a great sense of loss without Kirsty in our lives…With the passing of time people’s loyalties change and relationships end which may remove any previous reluctance to come forward. Something small which may seem irrelevant at the time could now be significant and add new pieces to the jigsaw that the police already have.”
Jones went on to ask the people of Chiang Mai to help her, “There is not a day goes by when I don’t think of what she would look like, what she would be doing, where would she be.”
Facing a large number of local, national as well as international press, the Department of Special Investigation reconfirmed their commitment to solving the case.
“The Royal Thai Police had conducted the investigation into this case, collected evidence and submitted prosecution opinion of the alleged offender, Mr. Andrew Gill, owner of the Aree Guesthouse, at the time,” said Pol. Col. Songsak Raksaksakui Director Bureau of Foreign Affairs and Transnational Crime Department of Special Investigation. “But the DNA test result of Mr. Andrew Gill did not match the DNA of the sperm which was collected at the crime scene as well as there were insufficient of other evidences.”
A total of 22 persons, residents at the crime scene, suspects and relatives, have had their DNAs tested, but so far there has been no match. Sexual offender inmates at Chiang Mai Correctional Institute have also had their DNAs tested. “The DNA has also been compared with the 80,000 DNA samples in the database of the Central Institute of Forensic Science. However the DNA test conducted on the mentioned different groups do not match the DNA, which was collected at the crime scene,” he added.
Oddly, in spite of the DNA evidence having been around for twelve years, he mentioned that the fact that the DNA belonged to a South East Asian male was no longer a secret and hoped that it would lead to an arrest.
The 10,000 pound reward, or 491,100 baht, a new incentive offered to any persons who can provide information and leads useful to the investigation, is hoped to help reenergise the case and open up new lines of inquiry.
The DSI has produced posters which it hopes will generate public interest in the reward.
“I am shattered,” said Jones to CityNews. “But I have a granddaughter now, Isabella Kirsty,” she added with a smile.