B1m fugitive arrested in Phitsanuloke

PHITSANULOKE (The Nation): Fugitive murder suspect Thai-American national Saner Wonggoun was arrested yesterday at a market in Phitsanuloke province.

The former US Air Force non-commissioned officer pleaded guilty to a murder charge filed by local police in California for the murder of his pregnant wife Sopha in 1994, police said.

The arrest came just seven days after Thai and US authorities announced a one-million-baht bounty for information leading to Saner’s arrest.

Police initially located Saner on Wednesday, following a tip-off that a man resembling a police sketch of Saner was selling charcoal at Khoke Matoom Market.

After a two-day stakeout, police approached the subject and brought him to a local police station for further questioning.

Saner’s identity was later verified by various documents issued by Thai and US authorities, including Thai and US passports and a bankbook.

Speaking at a press conference in Bangkok, Deputy Police Chief Gen Issaraphan Sanitwong na Ayutthaya said Saner had signed an agreement for his extradition to the US, where he will be prosecuted.

The bounty will be given to the Thai police by US authorities, but the officer did not say how much the informer who provided the crucial tip-off would receive.

Saner said he had contemplated suicide several times, and felt as if he had died the day after he killed his wife.

“I have been living in misery all along. I have been living on given time. No happiness or anything at all,” he added.

He had never withdrawn any of the three million baht he earned through serving in the USAF, for fear he could be traced, he added.

Saner said he killed Sopha out of rage after learning that she was eight months pregnant, despite living nearly a year together without sex. He said he had struck her on the back of her head with a hammer while she was watching television and their two children were out. He later put her body in a container and dumped it at a location 50 to 60 kilometers from his home.

Sopha was also a gambling addict and had wasted a lot of money on card games, he added.

The man said he had not seen his children since the murder, and learned that his son had frequently come to Thailand in search of him.

“I will not meet him even if he is still here now, as I can do nothing to help him,” he said.

Saner added that he had often come to Thailand, and had then moved around. Most of his jobs here had been painting advertising banners.

Phuket News
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