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Not-so-lucky charm

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHAYAO: A Phayao man is behind bars after allegedly stealing the preserved corpse of a stillborn baby boy from Phayao Hospital to use as a lucky charm. Jakree Tiemkaew, a 35-year-old builder from Tambon Ban Dam in Muang District, was taken into custody on February 22 after he took the tiny corpse to a local glass cabinetmaker and asked to have a special enclosure made for it. The cabinetmaker, who normally makes cabinets for Buddha amulets and other religious icons, found the request unusual and tipped off Phayao’s Muang District Police, who took Jakree in for questioning at 10 am. During questioning Jakree told police that he hadn’t stolen the corpse, but had simply walked into the hospital one day last January and asked for it. His request, he said, was granted by a hospital official, whom he described to police. The hospital has now launched an investigation into the matter, the results of which will determine whether Jakree is charged with stealing property from a public institution or the lesser charge of receiving stolen goods. It is also taking steps to modify the section of the morgue from which the child’s body was stolen, such as by putting a door on it. Jakree explained that he made a special point of offering the kuman thong (Golden Child) brightly-colored sweets and soft drinks at every mealtime and carried it about with him in a shoulder bag whenever he left home. He also claims the stillborn child twice protected him from impending dangers. “Once, about a week after I started taking care of the Golden Child, I was walking to work when it whispered to me to watch out for a nail. Immediately I noticed a five-inch spike sticking out of a plank that was lying on the ground. “Then in February, I was driving home when it whispered to me that my car tire was damaged. Sure enough, I had a blowout one minute later,” he said. As nobody has stepped forward to post bail for Jakree, he now sits in a court prison cell where he reportedly gets along well with the other inmates, who call him Ajarn (a highly learned man or professor). Jakree told a reporter that he fully intends to continue his black magic after his release, although this time he would practice using icons composed of materials other than human tissue, which brings too many complications, he said. A neighbor later told a reporter it was well-known that Jakree was a few satang short of a baht. He started practicing black magic about 10 years ago after his father died, but nobody in his village in Tambon Ban Dam paid him much notice because he generally kept to himself and caused no harm to the community. Witthaya Dumwrongkead, Associate Professor at Maejo University and an expert in Thai witchcraft and black magic, said belief in the kuman thong legend dates back to ancient times, but is no longer very popular in Thailand, except in rural areas near the border with Cambodia.

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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