Murder ruled out as US man’s BMW found buried
The car of Phuket-based US teacher Michael Dylan Gregory, who lived in Thailand until February 2012, was de-registered in 2010 and was the subject of a 2011 court order granting Kasikorn Leasing for impoundment. An intense police investigation continues in Nakhon Si Thammarat after attracting the attention of Deputy National Police Chief General Suchart Teerasawat, or “Big Mai”.
Police are investigating whether a luxury BMW car belonging to a 52-year-old American found suspiciously buried in a palm oil plantation in Nakhon Si Thammarat on Tuesday was linked to a gang active in the province’s Chaloem Phra Kiat district and deforestation involved luxury cars for spare parts. It comes after they tracked down the US man through international police agencies and confirmed he is safe and alive.
Senior police officers in Nakhon Si Thammarat on Thursday expressed relief that the discovery of a BMW car found buried on an oil plantation in the province’s Chaloem Phra Kiat district does not appear to be linked to a serious crime or how it was the case. At first, murder was feared.
The BMW car was originally owned by an American citizen who is believed to have worked as a teacher in Phuket until February 2012.
It has emerged that the BMW, an expensive and coveted brand in Thailand, was the subject of a court case launched in 2011 by a department of Kasikorn Bank, which eventually this year resulted in a court ordering the car to be confiscated by the bank Leasing arranged affiliated companies named Kasikorn Leasing Company Limited.
US man, former teacher in Phuket until 2012, named 52-year-old Michael Dylan Gregory as evidence
The man was named as 52-year-old Michael Dylan Gregory, and Phuket police are said to have interviewed a former girlfriend or relationship partner of the US man on Wednesday, who they have also confirmed is alive and well at the time.
Police announced on Thursday that Mr Gregory left Thailand at 5:32pm on February 12, 2012 from Suvarnabhumi Airport, meaning he has been out of Thailand for almost 10 years.
His former girlfriend told police officers that Mr Gregory left Thailand a long time ago and that she herself does not know the whereabouts of the car concerned, noting that such cars are easy to lease in Phuket.
Federal police chief “Big Mai” flies in by helicopter to get to the bottom of the mystery of the BMW car
The case has drawn media attention and public interest, prompting Deputy National Police Commissioner General Suchart Teerasawat, or “Big Mai”, to fly to Nakhon Si Thammarat province on Wednesday before the officer in charge of the investigation, Police Colonel Anurak Pradubmook gave an update, the Chief of Police of Chaloem Phra Kiat.
General Suchart flew a helicopter to a temporary heliport in the area to personally oversee the ongoing investigation after the wrecked car was taken to Chaloem Phra Kiat police station.
Police Colonel Anurak said that while police are relieved at this point that the car does not appear to be linked to a more serious crime, they are suspicious as to why it was buried by those who owned it.
Workers found the wreck after heavy rain dug up its steering wheel and thought it was an old boat wreck
The car was spotted by a 52-year-old worker at the plantation named Mr. Yong Meesuk.
He initially thought the debris might have been the remains of a boat and examined it for parts.
The car’s steering wheel became visible after unusually heavy rainfall on the 60-rai property.
Police cordoned off the car from onlookers on Wednesday while a large forensic team examined it for evidence. Documents are believed to have been recovered from the vehicle in a shaggy and wet state.
The BMW sedan, dark blue or midnight blue, was registered by Mr Gregory as Kor Jor 3979 until the registration was canceled in 2010.
It also appears that the car had been cannibalized for some of its parts before being buried, possibly removing valuable components.
However, most of the car, which was found in a pit said to be 1.5 meters deep in the plantation, was still intact.
The car still had its seats installed and expensive wheels and tires fitted.
The owner of the property and the local village chief deny any knowledge that the car was buried there after police questioned him and is now focusing on parts of the gang in the district
As part of their investigation, the police also questioned the owner of the palm oil plantation and the local village chief named Anant Chukaeo.
He has denied any knowledge of the car or how it came to be on his land.
Police officials briefing reporters on Wednesday revealed that one of their lines of investigation is to investigate a local gang in the district that deals with stolen or suspect cars, often cutting them up and selling them to the auto industry for parts.
They are also checking if there is a connection between the landowner and the car’s former owner, American Mr. Gregory.
Police are understood to have successfully tracked down the US man as part of their investigation over the past few days via Interpol to ensure he is alive.
On Thursday, police dismissed reports of evidence linking the car to firearms or gun discharge, but warned reporters it will take a week to fully complete their forensic examination because the car is heavily covered in mud, glued to its components.
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