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Colleagues from Sweethearts Bar at Khun Wanpen's funeral this week

Phuket Friends Join Sweethearts Killing Reenactment

Sunday, July 18, 2010
SWEETHEARTS bar workers said today they were delighted that the expat suspect wanted over the murder of their colleague Wanpen Pianchai has been arrested, and their sense of relief will flow to every bar on the island.

The suspect appeared with police at Sweethearts Bar in Kata-Karon this morning for the first time since Wanpen rode off on the back of a motorcycle with a stranger, to her grisly death.

His actions at the bar on June 18 were reenacted briefly. About 7am on that day, a bearded, blue-eyed man at first asked for the company of a katoey ladyboy then, when told none were there, had a beer with Khun Wanpen and another bar hostess before riding off about 9am with Khun Wanpen.

The Sweethearts mamasan, Khun Pom, who cared for the bar's hostesses, said the man today was clean-shaven. She added: ''We can all sleep more easily now that he has been caught. We are so happy it is all over.''

Khun Pom tried to call Khun Wanpen when she failed to turn up for work, and realised something was wrong when her phone was not answered. The discovery of Khun Wanpen's naked body was a traumatic event for all her colleagues in the bar.

Khun Tos, who perhaps more than anyone felt the pain of Khun Wanpen's death because they shared a room at the bar and were good friends, was equally relieved today.

She was the one who shared a beer with Khun Wanpen and the stranger with the beard before he rode off with Khun Wanpen, the final time she saw her friend alive.

''The man today had shaved off his beard,'' Khun Tos said. ''But I remembered the way that he moved his eyebrows.''

The reenactment took place today at Sweethearts in Kata-Karon at 8am. It is anticipated that a reenactment of the actual murder, at the man's home off Chao Fa Road West, in Chalong, south Phuket, will take place this afternoon.

Khun Pom and Khun Tos have been hoping to be able to send some extra cash to Khun Wanpen's mother in her home province of Petchabun, where the elderly woman now has to raise two young grandchildren.

An American named by police as Donal Fanelli*, 36, is expected to face Phuket media at Phuket City police station on Monday.

*Now known to be Ronald John Fanelli.
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