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Colonel Wanchai Eakpornpit with the identity drawing of the suspect

Phuket Bar Killing: 'Sweethearts' Expat Wanted

Saturday, July 3, 2010
Sweethearts Bar Murder Photo Album Above

THE BRUTAL murder of Phuket bar girl Wanpen Pianchai is causing fear and concern. Phuketwan today asked the man in charge of the investigation, Colonel Wanchai Eakpornpit of Phuket City police station, to add to readers' knowledge about the police manhunt.

The prime suspect is a bearded European who was seen with Khun Wanpen at the Sweethearts Bar in Kata-Karon on the morning she disappeared. Six days later, her naked and stabbed body was found dumped in a pull-along travel bag by a roadside in central Phuket.

Police have posted a 50,000 baht reward and released a new version of an artists' drawing of the suspect, with facial features more clearly defined.

There is a lot of concern about this murder case. What can you tell us about the investigation?

We are meeting every morning to discuss what should happen next. There are five teams of police involved in seeking out this suspect. We are very keen to speak to the man.

What is happening regarding checks at borders, the airport and places that expats usually visit?

We are talking to owners and managers of resorts and guesthouses, to places that rent cars and motorcycles. We are working with Immigration to review the visas of all expat tourists and expat residents. There are extra checks being made at the airport, not only on Phuket but at Bangkok and Haad Yai, as well as Ranong and all the other border crossings out of Thailand.

How about the international community? Are they aware of this case?

We have informed honorary consuls and all the embassies. My feeling is that, because the suspect spoke Thai, he is most likely an expat resident and that he is probably still on Phuket somewhere.

Should people be worried about the potential for this man to strike again?

There is no saying for sure, but we are 80 percent certain that we will be able to arrest this suspect. Unfortunately there are few clues. We know he has blue eyes, and that he had a beard at the time of the murder.

Have there been other cases like this one on Phuket?

No, this is the first of its kind. The suspect and Khun Wanpen were strangers when they met on June 18. Most often, murders on Phuket involve families or friends, or business associates, people who know each other.

How can you be sure he is still on Phuket?

We can't be absolutely certain but if he is an expat resident, as we believe, he may be more at risk if he tries to escape overseas. In cases with an expat suspect, there is no support network of family and friends. It becomes harder to hide.

Are other bar workers on Phuket alarmed by this murder?

They certainly are. Many people are scared because a case like this hasn't happened before. All the people in the bar work industry are now behaving more carefully. They are checking out their customers more thoroughly. We tell them to call their employees and their friends more often, and to let them know where they are.

Do you have any additional clues to his identity?

We know he has blue eyes and a beard. We know his height and his build. We have a good description from someone who spent time drinking a beer with him in the bar. And there was one security camera that provided us with an image. We think he is an expat resident.

What if the suspect has shaved his beard off?

[The colonel laughs.] Whether he has his beard or not, we will catch him.

Could you tell whether or not the man had an accent when he spoke to the girls at the bar for about two hours?

Thais with English as a second language are not always able to tell a particular type of accent. They haven't had the experience of hearing a great variety of accents. We don't have any indication as to where he might be from, only that he is an expat.

Colonel Wanchai's mobile telephone number is 081 6909959
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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.
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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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wasn't she found three days after she died? Plenty of time for him to take off! Perhaps someone should suggest a fundraiser at the Sweethearts bar for her children.

Posted by Vfaye on July 3, 2010 17:31

Editor Comment:

She was last seen on June 18 and the bag was found on June 24. No doubt the police will check all Immigration security cameras and the passport data of all expats leaving Phuket during that period.

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They will never find him because probably he is back to his country.

Posted by fks on July 3, 2010 20:07

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In these tragic circumstances, I think it would be a great help for the mother and the two children of this poor girl, if all the newspapers in Phuket would come together to raise funds to help out . If there was a bank account opened, Im sure that even foreigners abroad who know Phuket would help out !!!I will , for certain, even if I don't live there anymore !

Posted by elizabeth on July 3, 2010 21:57

Editor Comment:

That's a very generous idea, Elizabeth. Given the number of worthy causes and our limited resources, how about we find out the grandmother's bank account and post the number? Then those who wished to contribute could be sure the money was going straight to her and the children.

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Sorry Editor, I disagree with you and I really doubt they would be so meticulous as to check all immigration security cameras and passport data.

Also he could easily have taken a boat to Phi Phi and back overland that way, too.

Yes, get the bank details. Would be nice if the Thai press and Thai community also helped. Seems like most fundraisers I hear about are always in the expat community.

Posted by VFaye on July 4, 2010 09:41


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