The late arrest of a man, sought in connection with a murder over 14 years old, has left Pattaya police investigating the alleged role of the 40-year-old found hiding in a remote area of Phetchabun. He is accused of being the hitman in a sordid conspiracy driven by the greed of a Thai woman who had her foreign relationship partner gunned down in 2006.
Police officers in Pattaya are questioning a man arrested on Monday in connection with the cold-blooded murder of a New Zealand man over fourteen years ago in April 2006 in the Bang Lamung area of the city. Stephen Miller was gunned down in a premeditated murder and conspiracy instigated by his Thai relationship partner at the time who had earlier asked him to make a will.
Thai police with the specialist Crime Suppression Division executed an arrest warrant that was over fourteen years old on Monday when they finally tracked down the alleged gunman in a murder conspiracy that was carried out on the 20th April 2006 when a New Zealand businessman and bodybuilder was gunned down in cold blood as he left a golf range on a motorbike to head back to a gym in central Pattaya.
Stephen Miller, originally from Hawkes Bay in New Zealand, had lived in Thailand for approximately five years before his demise and for the previous five months, had been living with a then 39-year old Thai woman named Jintana Wichachai as his wife and relationship partner.
Girlfriend and a younger man quickly arrested by Pattaya police in 2006 after Miller’s murder
Within days of his murder, police had arrested Ms Jintana and another man, 24-year-old Mr Warawathip Kasawong, for conspiracy to murder the Kiwi.
It is understood that Mr Miller and Ms Jintana had been running a successful but illicit business together engaged in the production and marketing of illegal steroids.
In the course of their relationship, Mr Miller had purchased land and a car for Ms Jintana as well as gold and other valuables.
She later admitted her part in the murder and told police that she had become unhappy with her relationship with the foreigner who she accused of repeatedly assaulting her.
She told investigating police that he was threatening to leave her and take back the assets he had handed over.
Kiwi had bought property with his relationship partner and reportedly signed a will in her favour
Unconfirmed reports, at the time, suggested that Mr Miller had agreed to sign a legal will bequeathing the property held by the pair to his partner in the event of his death before he was gunned down on April 20th with a bullet fired a close-range that entered under one of his ears as he rode on his motorcycle to the centre of Pattaya from a golf range in Bang Lamung.
It is reported that the kiwi and his Thai girlfriend had planned to build a house on the land but something went awry.
Man arrested on Monday, after over 14 years, is the alleged hitman named by the pair initially arrested for the crime as the gunman they had hired for the evil act
The man who fired the shot is thought to be the man arrested by CSD police on Monday, then 26-year-old Yiamwut Julapong whose nickname is Pokpong.
The now 40-year-old was arrested in a remote area of Phetchabun province by a police team led by Police Colonel Neti Wongkularb who detained him under warrant number 442/2549 dated April 22nd 2006, two days after the murder.
It is understood that Mr Yiamwut’s payment for the murder was a gold necklace, one of the pieces given to Ms Jintana by her lover from New Zealand. The gunman had been introduced to her by her young friend Mr Warawathip.
Miller was still close to his ex-wife in New Zealand and well thought of by friends there
At the time of the murder, Mr Miller’s former wife in New Zealand, Megan Miller, with whom he had a childless relationship, arrived in the kingdom to make funeral arrangements.
The two maintained a close relationship even after he came to live in Thailand with Mrs Miller visited her ex-husband on several occasions.
The kiwi also maintained a very close relationship with his friends at home in Napier in the North Island of New Zealand where he had become well known and popular for his bodybuilding exploits.
Sent email to a childhood friend minutes before being gunned down on his motorbike heading for Pattaya
Indeed, it is reported that minutes before his death, he had sent an email to one of his friends from childhood at the local fitness centre where he was thought of as a friendly and generous man.
‘I have had the biggest, hardest- nosed bodybuilders in tears, everyone’s pretty cut up about it,’ one of his friends recalled. ‘He was a really, really nice guy, incredibly friendly. He was the nicest guy and would do anything for you.’
Police begin interrogating the alleged hitman
Following his arrest on Monday, Mr Yiamwut was handed over to police at Pattaya Police Station in the resort city where senior officers began interrogating the suspect with a view to pursuing proceedings against him for murder.
It is reported that the 40-year-old man denied any involvement in the killing of Mr Miller with police reported to be open-minded on the charges against the man, at this point, as they prepare a case to be put before the court in due course.