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Sweethearts Bar . . . business has not skipped a beat but fear is a fresh ingredient

Phuket Terror: Bar Girls Fear the 'Sweethearts' Killer

Friday, July 2, 2010
Today's Updating Phuketwan Report

FEAR is spreading that the Sweethearts Bar body-in-a-bag killer may still be on Phuket, and that he may strike again. Bar girls across the island are terrified and hoping that the 50,000 baht reward now on offer will lead to the man's swift arrest.

''If he does not get caught, there will be a next time,'' one frightened Thai woman who owns a hostess bar told Phuketwan today. She was too scared to have her name published, but she said that deep concern about the shocking murder had spread to every corner of Phuket.

''When my girls go home with an expat customer now, I insist that they call from the house or room to tell me they are safe. We have to be more careful. Nobody ever expected this kind of monster murderer on Phuket.''

Inevitably, given the casual nature of the business and the scale and spread of the sexpat and sex tourism trade, a murder sooner or later was inevitable. Latest Public Health figures reveal there are 727 bars on Phuket, with 6125 female and 996 male employees.

Phuketwan learned today that Colonel Wanchai Eakpornpit, who posted the 50,000 baht reward, believes the killer is still on Phuket, although other police think he may have already shaved off his beard and fled the island.

Colonel Wanchai, the Superintendent of Phuket City police station, is so keen to catch this killer that he is taking calls on his mobile number from anyone who may provide a clue.

The pull-along travel bag in which the twice-stabbed and naked body of bar girl Wanpen Pianchai was stuffed and dumped by a Phuket roadside on June 24 remains a vital clue. Police hoped it might be a brand that was not available in Thailand, but forensic officers have discovered that it's a copy Samsonite: a genuine Samsonite would have an individual code number.

A security camera was operating at the Sweethearts Bar on the Kata-Karon road behind Club Med on the June 18 morning that Khun Wanpen disappeared. But it only captured footage of the expat suspect's back.

Phuketwan has spoken to a friend of Khun Wanpen who provided the most detailed account so far of her friend's last moments.

Khun Wanpen, 34, had been working at the Sweethearts Bar for three months, a friend said today. Before she turned 30, Khun Wanpen spent four years working in bars on Phuket, then went back to Phetchabun province, where she had a second child, a girl now aged three, with her Thai husband.

She also has an older son from a previous relationship, and her 59-year-old mother now has to raise the children.

On June 18, the friend said, Khun Wanpen and another female employee were rostered to clean up the bar in the early morning. Other staff were sleeping on the premises, and one was cooking some breakfast.

About 7am, the man arrived and asked: ''Do you sell beer? I really need a beer.'' He bought one beer for himself, and two others for the women who were doing the cleaning. Was there a katoey lady boy working at the bar, he asked. He made it known that his preference was for large breasts.

''He could speak some Thai,'' the friend told Phuketwan. ''He also spoke English, too, in a mixture. He had a big laugh, and he talked very loudly.'' The stranger turned down the offer of a cooked breakfast, adding that he did not like to eat bacon or pork.

About 9am, after chatting to the man, Wanpen said: ''Mom, I am going out. I'll get back later.''

And with that, the two were gone, on his motorcycle.

''The following day, when Khun Wanpen failed to arrive for work, we began to wonder where she was,'' the friend said.

''I thought she may have suddenly decided to head home to see her children. I tried to call her, but her phone was switched off.

''I called her mother. But she'd heard nothing. We started to worry after we learned that she had not gone back to Petchabun.''

On June 24, Khun Wanpen's naked body, stabbed in the neck and the chest, was found in the bag by a roadside in central Phuket.

Her friend read a report in a newspaper, and was filled with dread. She feared it was Khun Wanpen, and went to Phuket City police station, where she was able to identify the ring that Khun Wanpen had worn on the second finger of her left hand.

One theory is that the man may have asked for anal sex, and become angry when Khun Wanpen rejected that suggestion. With just two stab wounds, there is no sense of frenzy about the killing. It appears to have been calculated, methodical, cold-blooded.

Khun Wanpen's body is still at Vachira Hospital. Police are unable to say at this stage whether she was strangled before she was stabbed.

The friend was sending 5000 baht to Khun Wanpen's mother today, because she knows that raising two children in Petchabun will be difficult. Khun Wanpen's mother has just one good eye. Others in bars around Kata-Karon have also undertaken to try to help.

''I have promised to do my best, to send more money when I can,'' the friend said. ''We all feel for the family. Many women who work in bars on Phuket have poor families to support in other provinces.''

Khun Wanpen's younger sister and other family members have been to Phuket to see her body. They travelled to the island in a pickup truck, loaned to them by the local orbortor council.

''Those of us who are in this business never imagine there might be people who would do what this man did,'' the friend said. The police sketch of the man was only a rough approximation of his appearance, she said.

She told Khun Wanpen's family she would organise the cremation when the time comes, and post Khun Wanpen's ashes home to Petchabun.

Meanwhile, bar owners and worried friends will be waiting for late night calls, to know their friends are still safe.

Colonel Wanchai's mobile telephone number is 081 6909959
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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Do the ladies at the bar remember an accent when he spoke English? American, English/Australian, European? This would help.

When he spoke Thai, was it simple words or was it full statements? Was it bar talk or could he respond in Thai to other questions?

Even though his bike was normal looking per the report, any description of a helmet, regular tires or low profile tires, white plate, white/red plate, or red plate? Was the plate a Phuket plate? Any markings to show a possible bike rental company?

Innocent until proven guilty I know, if not from Phuket he may not know what has happened, if from Phuket, he should go to the police for questioning.

There could certainly be more to this.

Posted by Lee on July 2, 2010 17:38

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wanpen is very good friend of minds. her family are so poor.she got mum and 2 kids to take care she never proud of the job she is doing. she love to talk, make people laugh. honest i am feel so sorry for her to get brutal murder like this. rest in peace wanpen

Posted by lek on July 3, 2010 00:51

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I cannot get through to Colonel Wanchai on the phone number provided. I just get a "cannot connect" message. Is there someway I can contact him by email? That's much more reliable.

Posted by A friend on July 7, 2010 20:52

Editor Comment:

The telephone is more reliable for contacting Phuket police. Try him again on 081 6909959 Being able to speak Thai will help.


Tuesday December 19, 2017
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