Tourism News

Tourism News Phuketwan Tourism News
facebook recommendations


Sign up now for our News Alert emails and the latest breaking news plus new features.

Click to subscribe

Existing subscribers can unsubscribe here


One Thai newspaper today carried this photo of the suspect's arrest

Phuket Hostess Killing: Police Nab American Expat

Sunday, July 18, 2010
Sweethearts Murder Photo Album Above

PHUKET City police say they have apprehended an American man who answers the description of the expat wanted over the killing of Phuket bar hostess Wanpen Pianchai, who was stabbed and dumped naked in a suitcase by a Phuket roadside last month.

The man was apprehended about 6pm yesterday at his home in Thantong Village, Chalong, in southern Phuket.

Police say his name is Donal Fanelli, [Now known to be Ronald John Fanelli] 36, and that he has confessed to the killing.

The brutal murder of the hostess from Sweethearts Bar in Kata-Karon sent a wave of fear through sex workers at more than 700 bars on Phuket.

Khun Wanpen vanished at 9am on June 18 after breakfasting on a beer with a stranger, then riding off on a motorcycle with the man, who said he was taking her to his home in Phuket City.

Her body was found six days later, dumped naked in a blue pull-along travel bag alongside an isolated roadside in central Phuket. She had been stabbed twice, in the neck and the chest.

Investigators led by Colonel Wanchai Eakporntip, the superintendent of Phuket City police, have consistently maintained that the suspect had not fled Phuket and was probably still on the island.

Clues to the suspect were limited. He was described by other bar workers, who had only a fleeting conversations with the man, as blue-eyed and bearded. He spoke reasonable Thai mixed with his English, which convinced police that he was probably an expat resident of Phuket.

Khun Wanpen's funeral and cremation was held at Kata temple, on Phuket's west coast, on Wednesday, with about 12 friends and acquaintances from bars farewelling her.

A media parade of the man is expected at Phuket City police station if as anticipated police are able to formally charge the man with the murder.
Phuket Bar Killing: Police Await Forensic Clues
Latest The cremation of bar hostess murder victim Wanpen Pianchai is set for Wednesday as Phuket police hope that a detailed forensic report may produce fresh clues to her killer.
Phuket Bar Killing: Police Await Forensic Clues

Phuket Farewell for a Friend from Sweethearts
PHOTO ALBUM The friends of murdered bar hostess Wanpen Pianchai farewelled her in a simple ceremony and cremation at a Phuket temple.
Phuket Farewell for a Friend from Sweethearts

Phuket Bar Killing: Victim's Body May Offer Clues
Latest Phuket police hope that forensic science will provide the answers they need to solve the mystery of the savage killing of a Sweethearts Bar hostess who vanished three weeks ago.
Phuket Bar Killing: Victim's Body May Offer Clues

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


Comments have been disabled for this article.


If this is indeed the true killer, then I take my hat off and bow my head to the excellent work done by the police in bringing him to book.

Posted by Graham on July 18, 2010 12:06


Thanks for the quick update.
However, I have never read a story where someone in police custody did not confess.
Are they SURE?

Remember when Simon the Norwegian was killed in Nai Harn and they "caught the suspects" but released them later too.
IT was this crazy story about how the police caught them.

Police, more details please.Have the girls from the bar ID'd him?

Posted by Vfaye on July 18, 2010 12:13


I am confused about publicity around this matter. A farang killing a Thai prostitute is a MONSTER and all symphathy is given to the lady and her mother whose concern mostly was how to get money in the future... A 62 yr old German man was brutally stabbed by a crazed Thai man over showing the middle finger. No reaction at all. No Monster, nothing. Why? Obviously because that was quite normal Thai behavior and a farang got killed. Many other savage killings, execution style murders happen but no big deal. But a farang and a prostitute make waves?

Posted by confused on July 18, 2010 12:39

Editor Comment:

Most of us are not that confused. Phuketwan has never tagged this killer a ''Monster.'' You need to look elsewhere for that kind of sensationalism. However, Khun Wanpen's death was a much more brutal slaying than the altercation that led to the death of the German man. His body was not crammed naked into a travel bag and discarded by a roadside. If I were you, I would disregard the nationalities involved in murders. Treat them all as tragedies of equal significance, then your confusion will dissipate. If it doesn't, then you have a serious problem.


If in fact this is the murderer....Excellent Job to the police for tracking him down

Posted by Applause on July 18, 2010 13:05


How about an update on how long in prison the killer of the German man at chalong , and the Japanese man who was burnt in his car . Are the killers locked up or are out of jail?

Posted by Lord Jim on July 18, 2010 14:33


Good work if it's the killer
Confused: Not every day you see an expat kill a Thai and try to cover it. What do you have against a bar girl, you sound like she is "nothing"

Posted by southbound on July 18, 2010 14:38


Confused - It seems that many times when falang on Thai crime happens, tons of people will come out and vilify the suspected foreigner.

Maybe some people feel like the knight in shining armor protecting the girl from the invading foreign savage.

I was wondering how the Thai based boards react to Thai on falang crime, then I remembered a story about a western guy who got killed by a Thai guy over a girl. Apparently the girl was two-timing them. Anyway, most of the posts leaned towards... "it served him right for dating the girl" and so on.

That is one view of how Thai on falang crime is viewed.

Posted by Anonymous on July 18, 2010 14:50


To editor:
So the way someone dies in Phuket should be treated differently, is that YOUR point ?

Posted by Anders on July 18, 2010 15:30

Editor Comment:

We don't have points to make, we simply report events as they happen. All deaths are sad but some are made more tragic and newsworthy by the circumstances. This applies particularly where the victims are young and the death shouldn't have happened, as with 10-year-old Max who drowned on a Phuket beach on January 1, or the young sisters who drowned not long after in a Patong canal. Murders are perhaps even more newsworthy because there's an element of community concern as long as the suspected killer is free, which is what makes the Sweethearts Bar murder of exceptional interest.


After reading the posts here, I suggest that everyone lay off smoking wacky weed and doing other stuff and listen to reason here. Just pull up the reins and think first before replying.
That said, just remember, murder is murder and stop trying to make someone else above somebody else, OK?
Two of my friends were murdered, but who knows what lies behind the stories of the stories, of the stories.
Chill out and enjoy YOUR life like it is your last day on earth.
Peace and truth to you all OK ?

Posted by Graham on July 18, 2010 15:41


I agree with Graham, excellent work if this is indeed the person wanted.

Posted by Lee on July 18, 2010 15:51


That murder had the potential for serial quality. With the guy unknown and at large it is sure to get attention. If he is the won, then it is time to release a breath.

But be aware, in Germany we had recently the case of a gay-meeting-point-parking-lot murder and a local was charged and imprisoned - with only circumstantial evidence, only when a second murder took place with the same weapon in a different German state at a same gay location, while he was in custody, it became evident for the German police it was not him but a serial gay killer on the loose. And before the police linked the two murder by ballistics, the other state police also put two innocent people into prison, who also were only freed, because they could not have done the first killing. So a confession and some proof would come in handy. And I know Phuketwan will deliver.

But for now: Good job, Phuket Police. Good job.

Posted by Lena on July 18, 2010 17:13


its Ronald, not Donald

Posted by Anonymous on July 18, 2010 17:16


Dear Editor you comment: "If I were you, I would disregard the nationalities involved in murders. Treat them all as tragedies of equal significance, then your confusion will dissipate. If it doesn't, then you have a serious problem."
This is my point, the news concerning Thais / farangs are NOT of equal significance the way they are published. And the Nationalities are NOT disregarded in news. It is always underlined some how when a farang is involved. I understand that a murderer on large is different from one already caught. But shooting some one else in the face with a shotgun in a gas station or killing and dumping the body... what is really the difference? Brutal monstruous murders in both cases. Yes, another newspaper wrote about the Monster. I guess there are so many murders committed that no body lifts an eyebrow anymore unless they can read the word farang in the headlines.

Posted by confused on July 19, 2010 11:39

Editor Comment:

I thought you were making the point in your original comment that the murder of the German man did not receive the same prominence as the murder of Khun Wanpen. Of course nationalities are not disregarded in reporting the news - but it would be wrong, as I tried to point out, to make too much of where the victims or the perpetrators are from. I can't recall ever seeing the word 'farang' in any headline.

Wednesday April 24, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


Facebook Twitter