Prison escapee on the prowl: Inmate’s great Thailand wildlife sanctuary location unveiled

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

The hunt for a 37 year old inmate who escaped from Maharat Nakhon Si Thammarat Hospital led police to the Khao Banthat Wildlife Sanctuary. This vast wildlife refuge, spanning 1266 square kilometres across Phatthalung, Trang, Satun, and Songkhla, is believed to be the hideout of Chaowalit Thongduang, also known as Sia Paeng.

This discovery prompted a shift in law enforcement’s initial belief that the fugitive had successfully fled the country via the southern border province of Satun.

Chaowalit escaped between Saturday night and Monday morning during a dental appointment at the hospital. CCTV footage revealed him leaving the medical facility with another individual named Chirawut, also known as Luk Wua. They were seen departing in a white Mitsubishi Triton pickup truck, which investigations later revealed to be driven by a third man, Chakkri, or Big.

Surveillance noted that this vehicle was accompanied by a black Honda Civic and an Isuzu D-Max pickup truck. By tracking phone signals from the occupants of these vehicles, police determined they initially journeyed towards the Chian Yai and Cha-uat districts of Nakhon Si Thammarat, then shifted towards neighbouring Phatthalung.

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Interestingly, upon reaching Sri Nakharin district of Phatthalung, the vehicles separated. The Mitsubishi truck headed to Satun, the Isuzu to Trang, and the Civic to Krabi. This led police to initially suspect that Chaowalit was in the Mitsubishi truck headed for Satun and potentially escaping to a neighbouring country.

However, Chaowalit’s mobile signals were later detected in the Khao Banthat Wildlife Sanctuary area, leading police to reconsider their initial theories. It is now believed that Chaowalit switched vehicles and travelled in the Civic, which was likely driven by his close aide, Non.

The black Honda Civic transported Chaowalit to Trang, where he disembarked and walked approximately 2 kilometres into the wildlife sanctuary.

A witness reported seeing a person on a motorbike heading in the direction of Chaowalit’s suspected hideout, carrying a bag that could contain food supplies and possibly a firearm. The search for Chaowalit in the wildlife sanctuary has now entered its fourth day, reported Bangkok Post.

This incident has led to the transfer of Narong Nukhong, the chief of Nakhon Si Thammarat Central Prison, as investigations continue.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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