Sararat Rangsiwuthaporn, a suspect in over a dozen murders, is escorted by police officers at a police station in Bangkok, Thailand. Image Credit: Reuters

Bangkok: A Thai woman accused of a spate of poisonings has been charged with 14 counts of murder, police said Wednesday, in one of the kingdom's worst suspected serial killing cases.

Sararat Rangsiwuthaporn is alleged to have swindled thousands of dollars out of her victims before poisoning them with cyanide.

She was arrested last week over nine suspicious deaths that took place over several years, but the police swiftly widened their probe.

read more

Her husband, a high-ranking policeman, is also facing fraud and embezzlement charges related to the murders, deputy national police chief Surachate Hakparn said Wednesday.

Surachate said Sararat lured 15 people - one of whom survived - to take poisoned "herb capsules".

"She asked people she knows for money because she has a lot of credit card debt... and if they asked her for their money back she started killing them," Surachate told reporters.

"We are investigating the amount of money that she got from victims."

Last week, he indicated the sums involved in each case ran into hundreds of thousands of baht - the equivalent of thousands of US dollars.

Both Sararat and her husband deny the allegations against them.

Police Chief Damrongsak Kittiprapas (3rd L) speaks beside other senior police officers during a press conference on the investigation into Sararat Rangsiwuthaporn, suspected of cyanide poisonings, at the Royal Thai Police Headquarters in Bangkok on May 3, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

Sararat - who is four months pregnant - is facing 14 charges of premeditated murder and one of attempted murder, but police are investigating up to three other potentially linked cases.

Last week, officers expanded the geographic area they were investigating to five provinces, most to the west of Bangkok.

Police initially suspected the woman of murdering a friend in Ratchaburi province, west of Bangkok, in mid-April.

Local media said the victim collapsed on the bank of the Mae Klong River after releasing fish as part of a Buddhist ritual.

After questioning the suspect, investigators linked her to other cyanide poisoning cases.