We as Americans have a sort of a soft spot for charismatic criminals. We adore the personalities and the people behind the crimes themselves. People like: John Dillinger, Al Capone, D.B. Cooper, OJ Simpson, and Bonnie Parker.
In May of 2017, a gruesome crime was committed half a world away. The culprits behind the mysterious death weren’t uncovered at first, but as soon as they were, it seemed that Thailand had found its newest “media darlings”…
Warisara “Am” Klinjui, was 22 years old and living life her way. She had tattoos, worked at a karaoke bar as a hostess, and was involved in an on-going relationship with an old female classmate. Both of these facts were completely unknown to her husband, however. Saschai was often away for work and it allowed Warisara to live her own secret life.
Warisara and Saschai lived in Thailand and despite their many secrets, lived a fairly happy life together. All that changed one May evening, however, when CCTV footage from outside the karaoke bar, revealed that Warisara had been taken from her place of work and forced into a car against her will. The nights that followed would be filled with uncertainty…
On May 25, a passerby noticed a strange smell coming from some metal sheets on the ground. When police arrived and uncovered the area, they discovered a shallow grave dug into the earth. The ground below was filled with bins and with each of the bins was a garbage bag holding half of the missing karaoke worker. Warisara Klinjui had been murdered.
As happens in cases like these, police immediately suspected Warisara’s husband Sakchai Bafthongdee, who was, as usual, away for work. Sakchai was not only clueless about the fact that she was missing, but also that his wife had been living a double life. As far as he knew, Warisara was living the “quiet life” with her mother…
The Thai public became absolutely enthralled with the grisly murder case. Meanwhile, police were scouring the streets for anyone who might have seen what happened that night. The CCTV footage was more than enough to identify at least a few of the culprits: and they were not what anyone would expect.
Kawita Ratchada, Apiwan Sattayabundit, and couple Wasin Namprom and Jidarat Promkun had been at the karaoke bar on the night of the murder. But unlike the hundreds of others who had been there that night, they were the only ones looking for trouble. However, none of them was the mastermind behind the eventual violence, that role belonged solely to 24-year-old Preeyanuch “Preaw” Nonwangchai…
Take a Trip
The day after the murder, Nonwangchai, Kawita Ratchada, and Apiwant Satayabundit ran off to Myanmar. Meanwhile, the drivers of the car, Wasim Namprom and Jidarat Promkar, went to Laos. They didn’t get far enough, however, and were quickly apprehended by police a few days into their stay.
The pressure of the whole thing was beginning to mount. Nonwangchai and company soon learned that their drivers had been captured and that video of the girl’s kidnapping had been found. Nonwangchai decided that their only option was to turn themselves in. Of course, she had her own reasons for doing so as well…
As it turned out, Warisara had actually known Nonwangchai prior to the murder. They had both worked at the same karaoke bar and tensions had grown between them when the former failed to pay back a debt of about $1,500 to the latter. Things got worse from there when Warisara decided to report Nonwangchai’s husband to the authorities for drug dealing.
The murdering girls were flown back to Thailand to await trial. They were charged with a litany of crimes including: premeditated murder, theft, concealing a corpse, and overstaying their visas. The rumors of murder mastermind Preaw Nonwangchai’s drug trafficking were also considered as charges, but she was never formally charged. They still had enough charges to be going on with in any case…
Life of Excess
If there had been any doubt that Preaw Nonwangchai was the ringleader of this crime, it was quickly dismissed as the public began to learn more about this previously unknown person. Nonwangchai had grown up on a poor farm, but eventually moved away to make something of herself. In the city, she lived a life of excess, underwent extensive plastic surgery, and made her living as a successful bar hostess.
That life of excess didn’t change a bit once she was arrested. She still flaunted herself, putting herself not only at the center of the plot, but at the center of the story itself. The media framed her as something of a femme fatale and the public ate up every single story about her. In Thailand, the whole thing became something of a “Preaw Phenomenon…”
Pictures of Nonwangchai and her fellow suspects putting on makeup, wearing night masks, and flashing peace signs in custody didn’t help to calm things down either. Indeed, these pictures painted an image of remorseless killers who were being awarded special treatment because they had become so popular in the newspaper and on television.
Now normally, murderers don’t garner a lot of public sympathy, but this was not the case for Preaw Nonwangchai. Fans respected her for coming forward. She became a real life Roxy Hart: a dutiful wife and daughter who built a house for her mother and knew how to make an appearance. And that wasn’t even the half of it…
Of course, there were some people in Thailand who expressed a good deal of shock and rage, not only at the culprits, but at the media’s positive portrayal of Preaw. Most however, ate up the sordid news, and even bought merchandise and souvenirs inspired by what the media was calling “The Thai Murder Babes.”
Yet, how had this terrible crime occurred? That was one of the questions that even the Murder Girl’s most avid fans were asking. Nonwangchai eventually came clean in an interview, stating everything she and her friends had done that night. The girls had lured Warisara into a car with a supposed job offer. They had only intended to confront her, but as can happen, things escalated…
Over the Edge
The original plan was only to assault Warisara once they had her in the car and at their mercy in order to teach her a real lesson. But during the attack, the victim allegedly cried out, “If I survive, then you die.” At the threat, the already volatile and enraged Nonwangchai lost her temper.
Attack in Anger
Nonwangchai leapt upon her and covered her head with a plastic bag. Within minutes, Warisara had been strangled to death. After that, the group went to a local hardware saw to purchase a saw so that they could dispose of the body. The gruesome butchery that followed in a local hotel room need not be described in detail…
Of course, despite our collective taste for criminals like the Thai Murder Girls, it has always been a bit of an ethical conundrum. We can only hope that their popularity notwithstanding, they get their just desserts. But their fate still remains to be seen.
If the Thai Murder Girls are found guilty of premeditated murder, all three of the primary suspects could face the death penalty. As of April 2017, 440 people in Thailand currently sit on death row, but an execution hasn’t occurred in the country since 2009. Based on their popularity though, they may just get life in prison as well.