Police in hunt for killer of Kirsty turn to new suspects

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The Independent Online

The search for the killer of backpacker Kirsty Jones appeared to be in disarray yesterday, when Thai police, who had been confident that DNA test results would resolve the murder, announced they had turned their attention to three new suspects.

The search for the killer of backpacker Kirsty Jones appeared to be in disarray yesterday, when Thai police, who had been confident that DNA test results would resolve the murder, announced they had turned their attention to three new suspects.

As the body of the 23-year-old traveller was flown back to a chapel of rest in Cardiff yesterday, police sources in Chiang Mai admitted the results of forensic tests on their seven suspects had proved negative.

Earlier in the investigation they had said Ms Jones's killer was "definitely" among five foreigners and two Thais who had been questioned. Until yesterday, detectives had been relying heavily on DNA evidence to link one of the men to evidence from Ms Jones's body.

The body of the Liverpool University graduate, from Tredomen near Brecon, was found last Thursday in a guesthouse in Chiang Mai, 422 miles north of Bangkok, party clothed with a sarong tied around her neck.

The revelation that three new suspects, including at least one Westerner, are being sought in connection with the killing is the inquiry's third change of tack in a week.

Initially, detectives had questioned Ms Jones' fellow traveller Nathan Foley, believing the killer was a Westerner. They then turned their attention to two Thai men when senior officers in the case became suspicious about the fact that hostel staff had waited about five hours after discovering the body before calling the police. Surin Chanpranet, the 47-year-old manager of the Aree guesthouse in Chiang Mai, became their prime suspect, police sources said.

Two DNA tests on samples from Mr Chanpranet's body have failed to link him to the murder. However, a police source said he would have to undergo further testing. They also stressed that one of the seven may have been involved, possibly by helping to cover up the murder.

Meanwhile, the body of Ms Jones, who was on a round-the-world trip when she was killed, was flown to Britain yesterday. Her family said that the body would remain in a chapel of rest in Cardiff until a funeral could be arranged.

Mike Gooding, a family friend who has been acting for Ms Jones's parents Glyn and Sue,said: "The coroner in Cardiff may request further investigations into her death.

"The decision on the funeral will be made in the light of what he has to say, after which the family will make arrangements for a funeral."

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