KHON KAEN — Police on Tuesday said they are still looking for a serial killer who murdered his sixth victim earlier this week.
Investigators said Somkid Pumpuang, 55, killed the victim at her house in Khon Kaen province before fleeing the scene. Somkid’s alleged crime came just six months after he completed his jail term for the murders of five women in 2005, prompting debate on whether the prison’s policy of granting pardons is too lax.
“My family and I are all saddened by what happened,” victim’s sister Naree Thanimkarn said. “But what’s worse is why the justice system let the evil out so easily. The authorities should be more careful.”
Although some residents in Udon Thani reported Somkid’s sightings there, police said the fugitive was nowhere to be found in the province so far. Police have placed a bounty of 50,000 baht on Somkid.
“We believe the suspect is fleeing on foot. We advise citizens to be more vigilant and be careful when accepting hitchhikers,” Khon Kaen provincial police chief Puttipong Musikul said.
He added that immigration police have been alerted in case Somkid attempts to cross the border to Laos.
Neighbors said Somkid was in relationship with the victim, 51-year-old Rassami Mulichan, for some time before they heard the two arguing on Sunday. The court has approved a warrant for Somkid on charges of murder.
Somkid was released from prison on a royal pardon in May after serving 14 years for killing at least five women in 2005. All of Somkid’s victims were sex workers who were lured to have sex with him before he murdered them, investigators said at the time.
Dubbed by the media as ‘Kid the Ripper’ upon his arrest in 2005, Somkid was convicted of multiple counts of murder and larceny. He was initially sentenced to death, which was commuted to life in prison.
Somkid ended up serving only 14 years and was eligible for a royal clemency because he demonstrated good behavior in prison, Corrections Department chief Naras Savestanan said.
Although the pardons are signed by His Majesty the King, his gesture is largely symbolic under the constitutional monarchy; the decisions on which inmates to be released rest on prison officials.
Somkid’s early release also stirred controversy on the effectiveness of rehabilitation in the correctional system. Corrections Department chief Naras admitted that the prisons are currently in overcapacity, which add pressures on wardens to release existing inmates eligible for pardons.
But many netizens criticized the prison for giving paroles to prisoners who had committed serious offenses.
“He killed five people and still given chance to live free. How do you know this kind of person should be given a second chance?” user Baiifern Banthita commented.
Others blamed the law for being too lenient.
“He should have been executed since his second murder. I’m ashamed of this country’s such a weak law,” user Chutikarn Lhaoporn wrote.
Royal pardons are issued en masse to inmates every year on important occasions, such as the King’s birthday.
High profile killings in the past led some to campaign for serious enforcement of punishment on those convicted of serious offenses, such as rapes and murders.