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Ronald Fanelli, now searching for answers over a savage Phuket killing

Phuket Bar Hostess Killer Seeks Psychiatric Check

Sunday, August 22, 2010
CONFESSED killer Ronald Fanelli has volunteered for a psychiatric examination as he seeks an explanation for the brutal slaying of Phuket bar hostess Wanpen Pianchai.

With what now seems to be perhaps a case of ironic premonition, Fanelli once played Internet poker using the alias ''Mad Yank.''

The former US Navy officer appeared to be distracted when he was brought before Phuket's media on July 19, two days after his capture. He had been on the run for four weeks and a day since Khun Wanpen vanished from the Sweethearts Bar in Karon.

Many unanswered questions remain about the killing. Mr Fanelli now appears to be keen to have some of those questions answered and has asked his lawyer to apply for a psychiatric examination.

The manhunt for the then-unknown killer of Khun Wanpen began six days after she rode off on a motorcycle with a bearded stranger, when her naked body was found stuffed into a travel bag by a quiet Phuket roadside.

The weeks in Phuket Prison appear to have given Mr Fanelli plenty to think about. Phuketwan was struck back in July at the media presentation by his demeanor.

He appeared distracted. He admitted to killing Khun Wanpen, but described it as ''a horrible, horrible accident.'' Others have been wondering what would lead a sane man to stab a naked woman twice then try to dispose of her body.

Mr Fanelli did say that at the time he picked up the bar hostess, he was distressed at the departure of his Thai wife and child for their home up north, short on cash and apparently helped over the edge by the failure of his Internet connection.

Khun Wanpen, possibly wondering whether he was going to pay her, allegedly became playful but annoying. He stabbed her twice, once in the back and once in the chest.

Khun Wanpen remained alive in Mr Fanelli's company for about 24 hours, according to police. The problem for those still looking for answers is that only Mr Fanelli's version of what took place survives.

If his application succeeds, he will be taken to Surat Thani, where the headquarters for all of south Thailand's police and prison medical procedures are based, for a full psychiatric examination.

Having a killer on the loose in July on Phuket was a prelude to August and another killer on the loose on the island after an expat slaying of a different kind. Police are still hunting English kickboxer Lee Aldhouse over the murder of former US Marine DaShawn Longfellow on August 14.
Phuket Bar Killing: Inside the Mind of the 'Mad Yank'
Latest One of Phuket's most brutal murders involving an expat leaves questions unanswered. Now an old friend of Ronald 'Mad Yank' Fanelli fills in some of the gaps.
Phuket Bar Killing: Inside the Mind of the 'Mad Yank'

Phuket Bar Hostess Killing a 'Horrible Accident'
PHOTO ALBUM The stabbing of a Phuket bar hostess was a 'horrible accident', says an American who has been on the island for three years and who says he was previously a US Navy officer.
Phuket Bar Hostess Killing a 'Horrible Accident'

Phuket Expat Deaths Hit 49, Plus Recent Drownings
Exclusive Report The Phuket governor's meeting with 22 national representatives on Monday will be told there have been 49 expat deaths on Phuket to August 17, minus three drownings.
Phuket Expat Deaths Hit 49, Plus Recent Drownings

Phuket Kickbox Killing: Cam Shows 'Man in Black' With Knives
PHOTO ALBUM Newly viewed footage from inside a Phuket 7 Eleven store shows a man who looks like hunted fugitive Lee Aldhouse demanding knives shortly before a fatal stabbing death.
Phuket Kickbox Killing: Cam Shows 'Man in Black' With Knives

Phuket Farewells Longfellow on Final Journey
Manhunt Update Heading for Bangkok and a connecting flight to the US is the body of murder victim DaShawn Longfellow, returning home six days after falling victim to a cowardly knife attack.
Phuket Farewells Longfellow on Final Journey


Comments have been disabled for this article.


As the Joker so rightly said:

Insanity is just like gravity....all it takes is one little push.

Posted by Sandman on August 22, 2010 15:05


I find this a little hard to swallow. He was sane enough to hide the weapon, sane enough to change his appearance and change houses, sane enough to attempt to dispose of the body and sane enough to lie low. The only thing he seems insane enough for was to kill the poor woman. I think a couple of weeks with Phuket's outstanding citizens and a looming look at Bangkwan has more to do with his changing tune than anything else. Anyone who kills in cold blood is by the act crazy, it does not make the act defensible, in my opinion.

Posted by Ya Think Doctor? on August 22, 2010 18:05


Mental instability would be the easiest way out. The same with claiming it was an accident. One stab wound would make an accident more plausible and, like another person wrote, the actions following the incident look well calculated and planned.

Posted by Mike Hunt on August 23, 2010 17:47


In answer to "Ya Think Doctor?" - the murder was not what I'd call in cold blood. He picked the woman up at 7-8am after a night spent drinking. He was extremely drunk and, it seems, in an emotionally fraught state, with his wife and child having left him and all his money gone.

The knife belonged to Khun - just look at photos of it, it is a bargirl's knife, the sort a working girl carries in her purse for self-defence. It isn't a kitchen knife or one a man would have at home.

So, he was in an extremely disturbed state, and responded to a bargirl who pulled a knife on him - probably because he couldn't pay her. It's still murder, sure. But it wasn't in cold blood.

Posted by Francis on August 26, 2010 17:04

Editor Comment:

Francis, the knife was Fanelli's, so everything you say after that inaccurate statement is likewise wrong. There is no suggestion that Wanpen Pianchai was aggressive in any way. Fanelli described the incident as a ''horrible, horrible accident.'' To stab a naked bar hostess once is possibly an accident. To stab her twice, once in the back, once in the chest, is something else.


Francis, her name was K. Wanpen and she at least deserves that.

In cold blood is defined as "in a cold and unemotional manner".

I attempted in my post to explain why the information I read from various sources led me to that conclusion. I guess the overwhelming point for me is that a person who has remorse does not stab a second time, stuff someone's naked body in a suitcase, change their appearance, etc. What I didn't mention and should have is that in trying to understand this man I read several of his posts in the poker forums. It is shocking to say the least and includes a lot of comments about degrading, violent behavior towards the girls he picks up. These are not random thoughts but consistent posts. Again, what I am saying is that given his actions (which he has admitted to), the fact he led police to the weapon and the posts he made prior to the killing it makes me doubtful of either insanity or accidental death.

Thankfully I am not the final judge or jury and am only stating my opinion and why. You seem to feel differently and I understand that. I just don't believe that being drunk, upset about you wife leaving and having no money are acceptable reasons to kill someone. If you are that upset and have no money why are you paying someone to come to your house? Also I don't know about you but if I have a naked women in my house I am usually pretty close to my happiest, not my most depressed which leads me to ... that while we will never know what happened in that room, it appears from all evidence that there was at least a possibility of premeditation.

Posted by Ya Think Doctor? on August 26, 2010 18:12


francis, you should be ASHAMED of yourself. your comment leaves us all to assume she deserved to die because she was a bar girl.

Posted by anonymous on August 26, 2010 22:01


I do not believe it is possible for an American to receive justice in Thailand, and I don't believe we can trust the Thai police.

I simply do not believe that the knife belonged to Fanelli. Look at the photograph of it. It is not a man's knife. The knife belonged to K. Wanpen.

It is perfectly understandable she would have a knife in her bag when she was in the business of going home with strange men.

Posted by Francis on August 29, 2010 00:15

Editor Comment:

Francis, your beliefs are at odds with the facts on every count.

Thursday July 18, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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