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Ronald John Fanelli appears at today's media presentation

Phuket Bar Hostess Killing a 'Horrible Accident'

Monday, July 19, 2010
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THE accused murderer of Phuket bar hostess Wanpen Pianchai says he is a former US Navy officer who was involved in a ''horrible, horrible accident.''

When asked by Phuketwan at today's media presentation at Phuket City police station whether he was guilty, Ronald John Fanelli, 37, responded: ''I killed her.''

Mr Fanelli said he first arrived on Phuket three years ago after leaving the military, fell in love with the island, and stayed. He said he had made a full statement to police about the circumstances of Khun Wanpen's killing.

He appeared at the presentation with his wrists in handcuffs. On the desk in front of him were a pair of camouflage shorts, a Nokia mobile telephone, a colorful woman's purse, and a folding switchblade about 10 centimetres in length.

Mr Fanelli appeared to be distracted, averting his gaze at times. He was perhaps unprepared for the television cameras.

Major General Pekad Tantipong, Phuket's Chief of Police, outlined the circumstances of the case against Mr Fanelli, who has a Thai wife and child. They had left him to return to their family home in the north-east Isarn region of Thailand. He was distraught, assailed by financial problems and wanted to help his family but could not.

Khun Wanpen stayed with Mr Fanelli at a house in Vichit, south of Phuket City, and was apparently killed about 24 hours later, when she playfully sought to have sex with him.

Mr Fanelli, drunk and distraught, stabbed her. Police said he carried her naked body in a suitcase alone on his motorcycle to the spot where she was found by a passerby on June 24.

An informer, whose identity remains unknown, had told police that Mr Fanelli was a likely suspect.

Phuketwan asked in English how he was being treated. Mr Fanelli replied that he was being treated fairly. He said the killing was a ''horrible, horrible accident. I never intended to do any harm to this person.'' He said that he had made a full statement to police.

He said he was from New York. He came to Phuket after leaving the military ''intending to stay for a couple of months. I fell in love with the area.''

Khun Wanpen's body, naked and stabbed in the neck and chest, was found in a pull-along travel bag on June 24 beside an isolated roadway in central Phuket, six days after she rode off with a blue-eyed, bearded man from the Sweethearts Bar in Kata-Karon.

Mr Fanelli, clean-shaven and wearing rimless spectacles, told another reporter today that he was the person identified by the nom de net ''MadYank'' on an online poker site, but added that it was ''years ago.''

A spokesperson for the US Embassy said today: ''The Embassy is aware of the situation but we are not able to provide any further information due to the Privacy Act.''
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


Doesn't sound like an accident to me, rather the act of a hot-headed fellow.

I wonder how much booze he drank at the time of her murder.

Posted by Cat on July 19, 2010 13:11


Glad he is off the streets. Thanks PW for the good reporting, and please pass on to the Phuket City Police, good job!

Posted by Lee on July 19, 2010 16:57


My feeling is - good luck that I knew when to leave Thailand, otherwise I'd have killed my former wife also.

Posted by Karl on July 21, 2010 02:41

Wednesday December 6, 2023
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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