PHUKET: A triple-killer being hunted in the jungles of Phang Nga, the province that neighbors Phuket, is taking on mystical powers as he continues to elude police.
Somsak Wongsri, 48, killed three people on December 22 in a land dispute then, after returning briefly to his wife's house, disappeared.
Ever since, slowly but surely, local legends have built up around the gunman. He also has attracted a deal of sympathy.
More than that, superstitious residents around Takuapa, the province's main Andaman coast town, have endowed him with extraordinary powers.
Khun Somsak, some say, can sleep in treetops without closing his eyes, listen in to conversations from afar and project himself from place to place without the need to bother with walking or catching a motorcycle.
He knows he has little to lose because, with three deaths on his hands, the best he could hope for is a lifetime in prison.
He has no money, either, to buy himself out of the situation. Yet he has the people feeling sorry for him.
Khun Somsak was caught in a squeeze play by larger, richer neighbors who, locals say, wanted to pick up his plantation property for a song.
Khun Somsak had to rely on access to his plot through the land of others, and when they ceased allowing him right of way, the trouble began.
Locals say he was threatened with violence himself if he continued to assert his rights. And in the end, with seemingly no way of convincing his neighbors, he killed three of them.
Not satisfied with that, he called police a few days later to tell them he had a score to settle with two others.
It's not difficult to imagine that the ''two others'' probably lie awake at night now, waiting for the ghostly apparition of Khun Somsak to materialise at the foot of their beds, gun in hand.
Less suspicious locals believe he has probably abandoned life in Phang Nga's mountains - which he knows very well - and will one day materialise in another province where the legend of Khun Somsak is less well known.