Thai wife murdered in Yorkshire Dales – British police go home

The suspect said he didn't feel well

A British police cold-case squad are in Thailand to speak with the family of a Thai wife murdered in the Yorkshire Dales. Twenty years after the half-naked body of Lamduan Seekanya, was found in a stream near Pen-y-ghent in 2004, officers failed to interview her husband, prime suspect David Armitage.

For 15 years the identity of the woman remained unknown until her parents in Thailand came forward and DNA proved the dead woman was their daughter. The BBC reports how officers have spoken with her parents but not her husband.

Leave it to the professionals

Before flying out to Thailand on 15 February, North Yorkshire Police said they could not move the case of the murdered Thai wife forward without…

“…understanding from Lamduan’s family all the aspects about her life and particularly the last few months of her life.”

The British bobbies were working alongside Thailand’s crack Department of Special Investigation (DSI), whose unparalleled experience in clearing up tricky cases in the kingdom can only hasten a result that has been 19 years in the waiting. They are seeking witnesses in Udon Thani, Bangkok and Kanchanaburi.

Udomkann Warotamasikkhadit, head of the DSI’s foreign affairs and international relations division, said Armitage had initially agreed to come and give evidence but changed his mind on the day.

The suspect said he didn’t feel well and had some personal issues, a situation described by Adam Harland, leader of the cold case review, as…


Having achieved very little, the Brits would now plan to return to North Yorkshire to allow the DSI to get on with the investigation.

Major breakthrough in Thai wife murder case

A post-mortem examination carried out after Lamduan’s body was found on 20 September 2004 failed to establish how she died. There was no sign of violence and hypothermia was ruled out, but detectives could not answer two main questions; who she was or how she met her death. Local people paid for her burial in the churchyard in Horton-in-Ribblesdale and she became known as The Lady of the Hills.

A cold case review was started in 2016 and scientific advances meant police were able to piece together a more detailed picture of who she was and came to the conclusion she had been killed.

In 2019, there was a major breakthrough when a Thai family read a BBC online story about the case and believed the woman could be their daughter who vanished in 2004.

This led North Yorkshire Police to carry out DNA testing with the parents in order to confirm Mrs Armitage’s identity. Mother-of-three Lamduan moved to the UK with Armitage in 1991 and lived with her husband David in Portsmouth, Rugby and Preston between 1991 and 2003. They had been living in northern England before her death.

Armitage then returned to Thailand where he has denied any involvement in his wife’s death.

Family of murdered Thai wife ‘deeply moved’

Harland said from meeting Lamduan’s mother Joomsri Seekanya, the family’s desperate wish was for her daughter’s body to be returned to Thailand. Relatives were presented with a memorial book showing the spot where Lamduan was buried and how the community had cared for her.

“Mr and Mrs Seekanya were deeply moved by this and they asked for their warm thanks and appreciation to be passed on to residents in Horton-in-Ribblesdale.”


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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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