A shaman known as ‘Ajarn Tae’ performed a ceremonial ritual on the young man who was found to have nine hanuman tattoos, said to have spiritual powers to bring blessings and protect the bearer. The killer had previously shown an interest in occult talismans according to his family who live in the Nong Bua So district of Udon Thani. 31-year-old Mr Ithiphol Imphueng told the police, in recorded interviews, that he launched the sudden and unprovoked murderous attacks out of anger and a desire for revenge.
Thai police brought the man, who killed two young women, on Saturday last, in a crazed killing spree in the northeastern city of Udon Thani, before the Provincial Court on Monday charged with two counts of premeditated murder and five counts of attempted murder. He was remanded to Udon Thani Central Prison. Police had earlier brought him for psychiatric assessment after bringing in a spiritual shaman over the weekend to conduct a ritual when investigating officers discovered, bizarrely, that the 31-year old showed no traces of narcotics in his bloodstream after testing. Ithipol Imphueng has told police he had taken two methamphetamine tablets before his wild killing rampage.
Udon Thani is still reeling after last Saturday’s horrific attack in the town centre when a 31-year-old man took the lives of two women and wounded five others with an extended flick knife after going berserk while riding his motorbike and waiting for a traffic light to change.
On Monday, police at Udon Thani’s central police station allowed a faith healer to attend the 31-year old suspect Mr Ithiphol after toxicology reports came back suggesting no presence of illegal narcotics in the man’s bloodstream even though he told investigating police on Saturday evening, after his arrest, that he had ingested two methamphetamine pills.
The man had a history of methamphetamine addiction before the incident.
Police kept their prisoner under tight security fearing angry locals could take the law into their own hands
Police were anxious to commit the suspect to Udon Thani’s Provincial Prison out of concern that locals may take the law into their own hands.
Feelings in the small city are still running high after the attack which saw two innocent young women butchered by the man for no reason whatsoever.
One of them was 16-year old Anchaya Boonyingyuan who was the first victim and received a death blow from the attacker after he leaned across from his motorbike while waiting in traffic, and slit her throat in a quick movement.
The unfortunate girl was left standing next to her friend’s motorbike as both women, injured by the attacker, stood in the middle of the road still clutching their motorbike in an immobile state of shock.
Local heroes praised for confronting the deranged man on Saturday with household implements
Now, stories have also emerged of the many locals who assisted the police in chasing after the attacker and cornering him. They displayed tremendous courage in confronting the armed man who still showed murderous intent as he tried to stab them.
Many were young men who used iron bars and household implements such as shovels to beat back the attacker’s lunges with a sharp knife that had already taken lives.
In one CCTV video, the killer can be seen jumping from his motorbike while travelling at full throttle and landing on the pathway in front of a shop, like a cat, except for a few faltering steps to remind us he was human. He was still looking around for prey before he was confronted by citizen volunteers.
Young man taken for mental health assessment before being brought to court on Monday
The killer was video recorded by police on Monday as they investigated the case and compiled the evidence.
He was later brought before the Udon Thani Provincial Court before being committed to prison.
It is also reported that on Monday before being brought before the court, he was taken to a medical facility for a mental health evaluation.
It is understood that the Udon Thani Central Hospital examined Mr Ithipol before he was driven to court and later to Udon Thani Central Prison.
Police surprised to find no trace of narcotics
Police officers on Sunday and Monday are reported to have been surprised to find that there was no trace of narcotics in the young man’s system from blood and urine tests. An examination of the suspect’s body found extensive hanuman tattoos.
He told officers that he had lashed out to exact revenge because he was angry. That admission, in itself, justifies the charge of premeditated murder.
Family of the accused man from Nong Bua So District in Udon Thani visit him before being sent to prison
On Monday, before he was taken away to prison, the accused was allowed 30 minutes with members of his family. They were led by his uncle in law from Nong Bua So in Udon Thani, Mr Saengmanee Sang.
Mr Itiphol, they told the media is known as ‘Jack’ and was raised by his grandmother after his father died and his mother went to work in Phitsanulok province.
He went to work on his uncle’s pig farm at a salary of ฿8,500 per month but liked to take leaves of absence to travel, as in this instance.
Family knew ‘Jack’ as a quiet person but drew attention to his interest in old family talismans linked with Khmer culture and some bizarre behaviour
56-year-old Mr Saengmanee told the press that he did not personally get along with Jack but knew him to be a quiet person.
He indicated that the cause of the young man’s evil outburst may be linked to spiritual forces.
He told the press that Jack liked to play with talismans and books belonging to his grandfather who had Khmer roots.
Mr Saengmanee said that some of the 31-year-old’s relatives had noticed some bizarre behaviour from him when he played with these items. He said that the Jack would make statements that he could not recall later.
He said he could not find the words to express the family’s distress and sorrow over the tragic deaths of the two young women who had been slain and the trauma suffered by those who were injured.
He confirmed that the family would not be seeking bail for the accused man. He also indicated Mr Itiphol may not fight the charges against him.
Shaman or well known spiritual healer called in to perform ritual after police noticed Mr Ithiphol had no less than nine extensive hanuman tattoos on his body
After police confirmed, from their tests over the weekend, that Jack did not seem to have illegal narcotics in his bloodstream, they summoned a renowned spiritual practitioner known locally as ‘Ajarn Tae’ or Mor Tham to perform a ceremony on the suspect.
The objective was to remove any spiritual influences as officers were concerned at the presence of the nine hanuman tattoos on his back.
Witnesses present at the ritual suggest that Mr Ithiphol or ‘Jack’ appeared to speak more naturally after the spiritual exorcism.
Belief in Thailand linked with the occult and supernatural phenomena is rife and is in stark contrast with western approaches which, in cases like this, would focus primarily on the psychiatric condition of Mr Ithiphol.
This weekend’s harrowing incident will certainly add to such beliefs in the kingdom which are also held, at an official level, in the highest echelons of government.
‘Ajarn Tae’ explained the significance of Saturday
‘Ajarn Tae’ told the press members or witnesses who observed the proceedings that it was significant that the evil events in Udon Thani happened on a Saturday suggesting the day is a powerful one for both good and evil lurking within people depending on their moral compass and character.
Spiritual experts, across popular Thai publications, have testified in the past few days that this was true explaining that Saturday is a day when spirits or demons can make their presence felt and take possession of bodies.
The healer insisted that as many people as possible participated in the exorcism ceremony which he undertook.
In meantime, Udon Thani Police, based on the confession of Mr Ithiphol that he angrily sought revenge when carrying out the killings and attacks combined with extensive CCTV video footage of the slayings in Udon Tani, have charged him with premeditated murder and are confident of their case.