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Phuket City police hope the Sweethearts killer will soon be a captive

Phuket Bar Killing: Help Sought from the Spirits

Tuesday, July 6, 2010
THE twilight world of bar hostesses and sex tourists has always been a place for dreamers on Phuket. The women, usually from poor families, sometimes long for an expat to take care of them in a more conventional fashion, to settle down, to raise a family.

The sexpats, often hard men or bruised men who have found themselves unable or unwilling to sustain a relationship elsewhere, come filled with lust. Yet sometimes, they find love.

Often, bar girls on Phuket will have a chance over a drink or two in a bar to assess a customer, to hazard a guess as to whether this could be the prince of their dreams, or just another paying customer, for one night only.

Murdered bar hostess Wanpen Pianchai, 34, probably did not think the man who picked her up over a breakfast beer at Sweethearts Bar in Kata-Karon last month was the man of her dreams. She had been back working at a bar for just three months, but in her 20s, she had been engaged in the same trade for several years.

For a man to hunt for a lady boy katoey or woman at 7am on Phuket is unusual, but then, lust has never been confined to the hours of darkness. Khun Wanpen could not have known what was to come.

Six days after she was last seen leaving Sweethearts Bar with the man, Khun Wanpen's naked and stabbed body was found in an abandoned travel bag by a roadside in central Phuket.

The owner of Sweethearts Bar, Khun Pom, told Phuketwan today: ''We never thought this could possibly happen. If we had the slightest hint of what was to take place, we would not have allowed Khun Wanpen to go with this man.''

Police continue to drop by at the bar, asking familiar questions, seeking a sudden burst of memory that may provide a clue to the identity of the blue-eyed, bearded stranger who came for a beer at 7am on June 18.

''We did not take too much notice, because he was just an early-morning customer. Nobody has ever hurt any of our girls. Murder was unimaginable,'' Khun Pom said.

Two days ago, she called for help from above. Belief in the spirit gods runs strong in Thailand, and nowhere does it run with greater strength than on Phuket, where the mah song warriors are summoned from the sea each year for October's Vegetarian Festival.

Khun Pom prayed and chanted in the bar, lighting incense in front of Sweethearts' small shrine. ''I called on the spirit of Khun Wanpen to help us to keep the business running, so we can send money back to her children,'' she said.

A voice told Khun Pom what she wanted to hear most of all: that the blue-eyed man will give himself up, soon. Khun Wanpen's spirit is bound to be unsettled until he does.

Police will be hoping that the information provided by the spirit proves correct.

So far, fresh clues to the stranger's identity have eluded their investigation - and many of those among the island's bar hostesses fear the killer could strike again. Until he surrenders or is captured, a general air of nervousness will pervade the tourist sex trade.

Furtive telephone calls will be made by friends and family just to ask: Is everything ok? Are you safe?

Yet there is no way of knowing for sure whether the man has fled the island or is still here.

While there are plenty of loners on Phuket, it would be unusual for a Westerner to have no other contacts. Yet nobody has come forward with a single suggestion as to who this bearded, blue-eyed prime murder suspect might be.

Word of the unusual case is spreading, with reports appearing in the Pattaya Daily News and Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Police continue their inquiries and have sent Khun Wanpen's body to Surat Thani for further forensic tests. They hope some more clues may yet be forthcoming . . .

Until the case is resolved, the police, and Khun Wanpen's spirit, will not be able to rest.

Khun Wanpen's mother has been left in difficult circumstances in the province of Petchabun, where she now has to raise two young grandchildren. People who wish to help can send money direct to her bank account: Krung Thai Bank account no: 6290233726 in the name of Sa Ard Maliwan.
Phuket Bar Killing: 'Sweethearts' Expat Wanted
EXCLUSIVE Interview Police have produced a fresh image of the expat wanted over the vicious murder of a Kata Karon bar hostess, whose naked body was bundled into a travel bag.
Phuket Bar Killing: 'Sweethearts' Expat Wanted

Phuket Terror: Bar Girls Fear the 'Sweethearts' Killer
Breaking News Police are hoping a 50,000 baht reward will bring a breakthrough in the murder of a Sweethearts Bar hostess. Bar girls around the island fear the killer may strike again.
Phuket Terror: Bar Girls Fear the 'Sweethearts' Killer

Phuket Expat Sought as 'Naked Body' Suspect
Breaking News Police have released this drawing of a bearded expat man they want to question about the brutal murder of a bar hostess whose naked body was left in a bag by a roadside.
Phuket Expat Sought as 'Naked Body' Suspect

Phuket Horror: Naked Woman's Body by Roadside
Breaking News Phuket police are probing the discovery of a naked woman's body in central Phuket. The woman was folded into a bag and dumped beside a road.
Phuket Horror: Naked Woman's Body by Roadside

Comments

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Thank you PW for the direct bank account details.
I have just made a small contribution and hope others will, too.

I hope the family knows that there are many people thinking about her and feeling compassion for the family.

Posted by Vfaye on July 6, 2010 17:43

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This is obviously a very sad and tragic event ...however, based on this article, it appears that everyone has already made up their minds the the killer is "definitely" the man that took her from the bar....Do we know this for sure?

I can see how it appears that he may be the guilty party let alone a prime suspect, but have the authorities looked into any other possible suspects?

Posted by Sad on July 6, 2010 19:56

Editor Comment:

The blue-eyed, bearded man is the prime suspect. He was the last person seen with the murdered woman, so he clearly has some explaining to do.

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I agree with " Sad " - we should not be too quick to judge this man.

I also agree with the Editor that this man has some explaining to do but let's not forget some essential facts.

He is just the last person seen with her AT THE BAR. We know nothing about what she did after she left.

It would be very useful to try to establish her movements after she left the bar and since the man is unavailable, some investigative work by the police is called for.

The body was found 6 days later but until the time of death has been established, we don't know how many days she had been there. Estimates were made she had been killed 2 to 3 days earlier, which would mean she was somewhere for 3 to 4 days after she left the bar with this man.

She was a seasoned hostess. It's quite common that along the years these girls acquire several local and expat "regulars" with whom they may take a few days off from bar work unannounced.

This leaves a world of different scenarios open for discussion. Perhaps the man held her captive, or perhaps she left unharmed after the usual two hours and had an altercation with someone else.

If the time of death differs by days from the time she left the bar, anything could have happened.

What I'm trying to say is that things may not always be as they seem and we should all keep an open mind and not jump into conclusions.

Let's wait for more evidence before we crucify anyone.

Posted by Ola Gustafsson on July 6, 2010 21:39

Editor Comment:

That initial estimate when the body was found of death two or three days earlier can probably be discounted. The police no doubt have a range of theories but their prime objective is to find and interview the last person she was seen with alive, hence the 50,000 baht reward.

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Dear Phuketwan,

Again, I am struck by how richly you illustrate the situation while reporting news. The first two paragraphs said so much about oft misunderstood bar-girls and the men that patronise them. With all the horrifying violence against women in the world, we sometimes grow jaded. Thank you for your sensitive and informative reporting.

Doretta / San Francisco-Phuket

Posted by Doretta on July 6, 2010 23:57

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Sad, the last seen person with her was this man. If he did not have anything to do with this horrible crime he could help the police about her whereabouts instead and move forward, instead he doesn't show up and tell his story. If he doesn't have something to hide, I can't figure out why he would not came forward with information... maybe he did not read about the murder... or he simple doesn't want to talk to the police.

Speculating.. ;)

Posted by Anders on July 7, 2010 03:33

Editor Comment:

This is a genuine murder mystery. Blue-eyed, bearded men are a fairly rare sight on Phuket. You would think that someone, somewhere would recollect seeing a man matching that description.

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speculating....that's a good point you made and there's good reason to point fingers at this guy first...but then this mystery man, if innocent, may not even be aware of what happened...I have a feeling that if it was this guy or some other foreigner, he may be long gone by now...left the country...It's a good chance that the person may have changed his appearance and had enough time to leave before any news of this came up and anything could be done to set up any type of awareness at the borders etc.

Posted by sad on July 7, 2010 09:38

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If it were me in this man's situation then I would be very reluctant to turn myself in, even if it would be helpful. More than likely, you would be convicted...innocent or not. Or maybe I'm just jaded!?

Posted by Matt on July 7, 2010 19:45


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