“We have dead bodies, and we will need to work with all agencies to establish the facts surrounding these individuals.”
Thailand’s population is predominantly Buddhist, but many people have beliefs outside of religion, such as the worship of local spirits and fear of ghosts. Sectarian groups are not uncommon, Thai researcher reported.
Authorities believe the group existed for more than four years without anyone noticing because the location of the chief’s house was in a remote forest area, away from other communities.
But their anonymity ended after a daughter of one of the followers complained to a social media celebrity whose specialty is exposing unscrupulous religious figures.
Thawee was initially charged with encroaching on a forest area – his house is believed to be on public land – and unlawful gatherings banned under disease control laws which have been used over the past two years to fight the coronavirus.
Local media reported that he was denied bail on Monday.
Police said they are looking at other charges, including unlawful body disposal.
Last year, an elderly monk beheaded himself with a device his followers helped build. The monk was trying to be reincarnated into a higher being, Thai researcher reported.
A separate Thai sect in 2019 was investigated after female students said they were coerced into sex or raped by the leader of the group.