Murdered Wanphen cremated in Phuket

PHUKET: The body of slain bar hostess Wanphen Pienjai was cremated at a small ceremony at Wat Kitti Sangkaram (Wat Kata) at noon today.

The simple ceremony was attended by about 10 friends and relatives of the deceased, whose remains were discovered stuffed into a suitcase in a remote area off Chao Fa Thani Rd in Wichit on the morning of June 24.

Her killer, who police believe to be a Caucasian expat still on the island, remains at-large despite the most intensive police manhunt in Phuket in recent years.

Among those taking part in the ceremony was the late Wanphen’s cousin, Sangwan Paisan, who works as a maid at the Karon Municipality offices.

We grew up together in a village in Petchaboon…I saw on TV that they found the body of a naked woman. They kept repeating images of her shoes. I knew she had gone missing and I prayed for it not to be her. It was so hard for me to have to tell her mom she wasn’t with us anymore,” she said.

I think the suspect is still here in Phuket, but I understand that it may be difficult to find him. I hope that police can arrest him, or maybe that he turns himself in,” she said.

There are many things I would like to say to her. I hope she rests in peace and has no pain in the next life,” Ms Sangwan added.

The body of Ms Wanphen was brought to the temple from Vachira Phuket Hospital yesterday following an autopsy and forensics exam that police hope will yield DNA evidence of the person who killed her.

Ms Wanphen’s mother, who remains in Petchaboon to care for her two young children, asked Ms Sangwan to take care of the funeral arrangements.

Ms Sangwan’s partner, Boonkuea Kongchana, said he broke down in tears when identifying Ms Wanphen’s remains at the hospital morgue.

My wife and I and Wanphen’s friends at the bar helped collect money to pay for the funeral. We didn’t get much, but it was enough for a small ceremony,” he said.

A friend from the bar told the Gazette, “I pray that her soul finds peace and that she doesn’t worry about her mother or two children. We will try to help them as much as we can,” she said.

I knew her for some time. I remember one time I left the bar and when I returned she gave me a big hug and told me she really missed me while I was away. It really made me feel loved,” she said.

Other friends of Ms Wanphen who attended said they were terrified of meeting a similar fate.

I really don’t trust the expats here anymore. Now I prefer tourists. Now before going out with any of them we talk for a lot longer, trying to learn as much as we can about them. We also take photos of them at the bar and call up our friends who have gone out to make sure they are safe,” she said.

I think that the suspect is in Phuket. Maybe he has a business here. I wish Phen’s spirit could convince him to turn himself in to police,” she said.

Readers will recall that the Phuket Gazette had set up a channel for charitable donations to help the family of the deceased with immediate financial needs for funeral-related expenses.

A total of 20,000 baht was raised and that amount was turned over today to Mrs Sa-ard Maliwan, mother of Wanphen.

Mrs Sa-ard was grateful for the assistance and asked that the Gazette relay her thanks to the donors.

Meanwhile, with a view toward providing longer term assistance, a major charitable organization with a global reach is conducting due diligence on the circumstances surrounding Wanphen’s two young children and other family members.

Should the organization find itself in a position to proceed, an announcement will be made here on the Gazette Online.

— Sitthipong Nongkaew

Phuket News

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