Police arrested the man within 48 hours of the grim discovery on Tuesday afternoon when a teacher returned a 6-year-old girl from school to the two-storey home in the Mueang district of the province. The murderer told police that he needed cash as his income had dried up because of the current economic recession. However, the 26-year-old man has a long history of criminality.

Thai police have arrested an air conditioning repairman for the murder of a young woman in Nakhon Ratchasima last week while her 6-year-old daughter was at school. The man told police that he committed the crime to silence the woman after she attempted to call for help. He had forced his way into her home, where he worked regularly, to intimidate her into handing over money. 

Police in Nakhon Ratchasima gave details of the case on Thursday following the arrest of 26-year-old Theeraphol Duangkrathok (centre) for the murder on Tuesday last of wife and mother, 29-year-old Natrika Shibahara within her home.

Police in Nakhon Ratchasima on Thursday arrested a 26-year-old man for the murder of a young wife and mother on Tuesday at her home in the Mueang district of the province.

29-year-old Natrika Shibahara was married to a Singaporean man but lived alone at her home with her six-year-old daughter who was at school when the murder took place.

Ms Natrika’s husband visited regularly and supported her financially.

Police arrested the killer at a shelter in a paddy field where he was laying low as they closed in

The suspect, arrested for the crime, was her regular air conditioning repairman who told police that he went to the woman’s home to obtain money due to a dearth of business at the local air conditioning repair shop where he worked because of the current deep recession.

Police revealed that 26-year-old Theeraphol Duangkrathok was arrested by officers lying low at a makeshift shelter in a paddy field in the Nong Bunmak district of the province, in an attempt to avoid the police net.

The young man from Chaiyaphum province already has an extensive criminal record that includes convictions for theft, physical assault and the use of illegal narcotics.

Arrested suspect a regular visitor to the home

He told police that he initially did not intend to kill Ms Natrika when he went to her home claiming he had left some tools at the location from a previous visit. He had serviced the woman’s air conditioning units 4 to 5 times before this and considered that she was affluent.

After she opened the door of her home, he accosted her with a knife and demanded that she hand over any money or valuables she had. When she told him that she did not keep cash at her home, he forced her upstairs to her bedroom where he took the room apart in his search for a payoff.

Terrified woman transferred ฿10,000 into the tradesman’s bank account after a fruitless search

At some point, he forced the woman to transfer money from her bank account to his. Ms Natrika deposited ฿10,000 into his account.

However, the sight of a neighbour passing by in front of her home from the window of her bedroom induced a terrified Ms Natrika to cry out for help. It was her last. 

Mr Theeraphol used his knife to swiftly cut her throat. The woman’s body was found later lying on her bed.

Mother failed to show up at daughter’s school

Ms Natrika later failed to show up at her daughter’s school. This prompted one of the teachers to bring the little girl home. After reaching the two-storey home, she could not get a response. 

The teacher then found the door open and a while after entering the house, the dead woman’s body was discovered.

Police later estimated that the murder victim had succumbed to the fatal wound approximately three hours before they arrived on the scene. 

Charged with murder, more to follow

Initially, on Tuesday, as the investigation commenced, police from Regional Division 3 had suspected that the crime was linked to some sort of amorous liaison between the woman and a person known to her.

On Thursday, investigating officers brought the air conditioning repairman, Mr Theeraphol, back to the scene to reenact the crime.

He has been charged with murder and other charges will follow including one for theft. Police are currently working on the legal case against him as he is held in custody.

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