Man and girlfriend jailed for life after he murdered his fiancé days before their wedding in December last year
A 26 year-old Thai man has been sentenced to life for killing his fiancé. His girlfriend, who colluded with him in the murder, was also given the same penalty. The tragic and bizarre murder would seem incomprehensible to many foreigners but although any motive is still supposition, it appears to be to do with the Thai culture of sin sod, a large amount of money and fear of a potential loss of face by the groom.
On September 28th last, the Chumphon provincial court sentenced 26 year old Ronnachai Panchart to life in a Thai prison on the charge of murdering 25 year old Nontiya Krowjatturat last year. The killing took place on December 19th 2017 and shocked the Thai public. The brutal and cold blooded murder took place just five days before Panchart was due to marry Nontiya who was his fiancé. Naruemol Chuaysombat, Panchart’s newly taken 23 year old mistress, was also sentenced to life imprisonment by the court for helping her boyfriend carry out and conceal the brutal crime.
Pair initially sentenced to death by the Thai court
The pair were initially given the death penalty by the court but this was later commuted to life imprisonment on the grounds that the couple had confessed their crime and cooperated with the police by giving useful testimony. The convicted murderers were also ordered to pay the victim’s family a total of 3 million baht in compensation. Panchart appeared to accept the verdict, according to Thai press reports.
Shocking crime on hospital compound was discovered after work colleagues searched for her
Previously, Nontiya Krowjatturat, a dentist at a community health hospital in the southern Thai province of Chumphon, was found dead at her home in the residential compound of the Tambon Salui Health Promotion Hospital by her colleagues on December 19th, 2017. They had came to check up on her after she had failed to show up for work. Traces of blood alerted them to foul play and they broke into her living quarters by forcing the door. Her lifeless body was found with shotgun wounds which were soon attributed as the cause of death.
Masked and hooded figure seen on CCTV
The main suspect was identified by Thai police reviewing CCTV footage a masked and hooded figure who entered the dormitory area around the time of the murder and was captured by closed-circuit cameras in the building. After that, the police raided Panchart’s house in the Lang Suan district and found the suspect’s clothes. They confirmed that he was indeed the killer but it took intense questioning at a police station before he eventually confessed to the crime.
Thai man’s mistress initially claimed no knowledge of the murder that shocked Thailand
Police later began to get to the bottom of the incomprehensible nature of the crime which still occupies many minds in Thailand. Nontiya Krowjatturat, the murder victim, was reported to have discovered her fiancé was engaged in a sexual affair with Naruemol Chuaysombat during a visit to his house some time prior to the tragedy.
Discovery of infidelity by bride prior to her death
The discovery caused a sudden deterioration in the relationship between the couple. This is believed to have prompted a chain of events that resulted in the horrific murder of a beautiful young woman at the hands of the handsome young groom she seemed destined to marry just five days later. During the police investigation into the bizarre murder, Chuaysombat, Panchart’s new mistress, initially denied any involvement in the crime. She later admitted her culpability after the discovery of important evidence against her. This included the weapon used in kill the young nurse. It was found to be her property.
Haunting photos of beautiful Thai couple seem to mock the appalling tragedy that unfolded shortly after
The photographs that have been unearthed in relation to this tragic story are haunting. We see a proud Thai bride in a beautiful white dress looking adoringly at her future husband in his state uniform. 26 year old Panchart was an employee of the a state enterprise in Chumphon working at the Provincial Electricity Authority in the Luang Suang district of Chumphon. The province in southern Thailand is a beautiful place with beautiful sea views and coastline. Formerly a frontier location, the province is home to some very proud Thai people. Another photo shows the couple this time with the happy bride cuddling furry toys and snuggling under her fiancé’s gaze while a more contemporary shot shows a very attractive young woman. Her handsome but perhaps a little serious, young fiancé looks out from behind her.
Actions of fiancé in the dead of night are shocking and disturbing as he must have contemplated his brutal and treacherous act
Panchart later claimed to Thai police that on the night of the murder he was drunk. His movements and actions on the night are shocking and disturbing. It is clear that this was a premeditated and cold blooded murder but what is difficult to understand is the true motive. Thai police reviewed video footage of the hospital compound on the night of the murder and identified a suspicious, black clad and hooded figure walking around the building for up to one hour before the murder took place. Panchart was obviously doing a reconnaissance of the area and paying close attention to the security cameras. The murderer obviously at some point, resolved to carry out the brutal act and police observed a stick being used to move one of the cameras so that it pointed in the wrong direction. Difficult to imagine the torment and horror of the murderer’s mind at this time. At this moment, he had sealed the fate of his beautiful bride to be, his mistress and himself.
Thai Bride to be was asleep in a darkened room with the TV on as her fiancé stole in. As she rose, he shot her fatally in the chest with his firearm
What is even more unimaginable is the moment that the murder itself took place. Panchart told investigating Thai police that when he entered the room of his fiancée he found the unfortunate woman asleep in bed with the lights out. A TV was playing in the background. His fiancée woke up and as she rose, he shot her in the chest with the shotgun. He claimed later to Thai police that he was drunk when he carried out this heinous and inhuman act but that doesn’t make it any less disturbing.
Murderer’s girlfriend soon exposed by Thai police
Investigating Thai police soon turned their attention to Panchart’s girlfriend and discovered that the gun used for the murder had been purchased for 7,000 baht ($220). Investigations later identified that she was, in fact, the owner of the murder weapon. She had driven the vehicle which delivered her new boyfriend to the hospital compound on the night of December 18th, 2017 and later assisted him by driving him from the scene of the murder and to dispose of the gun. Thai police later retrieved the firearm and this was critical to blowing open the case against her.
Possible motive for the murder would be difficult for western foreigners to comprehend
It is difficult to understand the motive for this murder but police revealed that the father of the bride to be Nontiya told them that his daughter became aware that her fiancé was having a sexual affair with another woman. In Thailand it is quite common for men or husbands to have a mistress or even a minor wife although it becoming less acceptable among younger Thai women who are more and more adopting western attitudes.
However this is a more complex story. In western countries such an event would result in the wedding being by immediately called off by the bride to be. It is a common plot of many western movies. But this is Thailand. It is also reported that Nontiya had vehemently refused her fiancé’s requests to call off the wedding. Mr. Ronnachai told the police that his bride to be had followed and intimidated the new couple prior to his decision to murder her. Police were also told by Nontiya’s father that the bride to be and groom had been involved in a serious disagreement before the murder. It is reported that this resulted from Ronnachai’s request that his bride call of their wedding but she had adamantly refused to do so.
Consequences of calling off the wedding for the future Thai groom would have been heavy and shameful
This is a state of affairs that would seem incomprehensible to most foreigners but it appears that in not going through with the marriage, he would have forfeited the dowry or Sin Sod which the Thai groom would have paid in order to be allowed to marry his bride. This is an integral part of marriage in Thailand. The funds are paid from the groom to the bride’s family in principle but in practice, the money is often used by the happy couple to begin their new life together. Panchart would also have faced considerable opprobrium if it was revealed that he had called off the wedding and left his fiancé in the lurch. The public nature of their engagement may even have marred the bride’s chances of finding a future relationship partner. Panchart would have been seen a viewed in a very poor light and lost considerable ‘face’. In Thailand, among men and women but particularly men, ‘face’ or perception or honour is everything. He would also have faced a possible civil claim for breach of promise by the bride and her family.
Murder was an ill conceived scheme, it was evil driven by passion, fear and greed
It has also been reported that a sum of B700,000 baht and a considerable amount of gold with a weight of 10 baht went missing from the victim’s room at the same time as the murder. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that this was the act of two people without scruple or any moral conviction who decided to murder the woman who stood between them with the added motivation of a considerable financial gain. The sin sod monies would be a considerable amount of monies for many Thais and perhaps life changing as indeed this is the purpose of such payments. The Thai man and his mistress perhaps intended that the murder would go unresolved or may have been treated as a robbery. However it was certainly ill conceived and always destined to cause ruin for all concerned. It was the product of a turbulent relationship that had driven the Thai man and his mistress to commit unspeakable evil.
‘Sao’ – Thai man’s new mistress was a key driver in the murder of the man’s bride to be and paid the price
The story of Panchart’s partner in the crime and mistress is also compelling. She was a pretty 23 year old co worker with Ronnachai at the office of the Provincial Electricity Authority. Her nickname was ‘Sao’ (meaning young girl). Police later established that she had helped Ronnachai, also known by his nickname ‘Keng’ (meaning good, smart or masterful) to purchase the gun used for the murder for 7,000 baht ($220). She had delivered her new boyfriend to the hospital compound and later picked him up after the brutal act was carried out. Initial police charges against her were for possession of an illegal firearm and carrying a firearm without reasonable cause. She later helped her boyfriend dispose of the gun after the murder. The gun was to prove her undoing.
The undoing and fall of the younger mistress in the doomed and tragic Thai love triangle was swift
Four days after the crime police from the the Salui Royal Thai Police station brought Ms Naruemon to the Provincial court where charges were laid before her including firearms charges and murder. The police was very concerned with her reaction to the grave charges as she betrayed little or no emotion. She was placed under suicide watch as authorities believed it was a distinct possibility.
Heartbreak for family of murderer as well as victim
There are reports of her distraught family, including parents, at the scene of the court at mid morning on December 23rd 2017. Unable to raise 600,000 baht to bail the Thai woman and being informed that police would oppose any such move, her relatives could not fathom the news that had assailed them. Naruemon also or ‘Sao’ as they referred to her, was remanded to prison. She is now there for life lucky to have been reprieved from a possible death sentence. Her family could not comprehend the nature of the charges as they had not even been formally introduced to her supposed new boyfriend Mr. Ronnachai as is customary under Thai culture.They blamed the news media for the situation and even suggested that the woman had been set up.
Her two parents did not say anything to the waiting media throng. They had become two more victims, including the the family of the bride that never saw her wedding day, of a crime that will live in infamy. There are stories and crimes like this in Thailand every other day but this was a particularly tragic tale of love gone wrong that shocked Thailand.