The media was blamed for trivializing the murder as a source of entertainment, adding to the drama the case wasn't any short of.
One of Thailand's most sensational murder case drew to a closure on Thursday, May 10, after the accused were awarded a combined 127 years of imprisonment for murder and other drug-related offenses, as reported by Daily Mail.
Dubbed as "Thai murder babes", the accused Preeyanuch Nonwangchai (25), Apiwan Satayabundit (28), and Kawita Ratchada (26), were sentenced for 127 years in toto, after they were found guilty of killing Warissara Klinjui, 23, in May 2017.
Nonwangchai, and Ratchada, had strangled fellow prostitute Klinjui after an argument, before calling in Satayabundit, 28, and another friend to chop up the victim's body and bury it in a shallow grave.
It did not take much time for the police to link all the accused with the murder of Klinjui which led to the three women fleeing to Laos where they began looking for work in massage parlors.
According to some defendants' testimonies, the suspects had assaulted Warisara before Nonwangchai used a black plastic bag she bought at a convenience store and strangled the victim to death in a car.
But that's not the shocking aspect of the case.
The murder that garnered wide publicity across the country had the majority of the population sympathizing with the killers. The media frenzy surrounding the case was hailing the murderers for "having a pure heart and a sense of responsibility." Even the common populace was fascinated with the trio, leading to merchandise like keychains, posters and more; emerging in the 'honor' of the accused.
What's even more revolting is the recent spree of pictures that appeared in media reports, that showed the arrested women laughing, smoking, and posing for selfies with police officers—the latter who seemed star struck by the beautiful murderers.
Pictures of Nonwangchai and other accused putting on makeup, wearing night masks, and flashing peace signs showed remorseless killers who were being awarded special treatment. In no time, the women were in every newspaper and a television staple for Thailand residents for a long time.
Nonwangchai and Ratchada had been working in the same bar as the victim, where the two along with other female employees also dabbled in prostitution from every now and then.
Tensions between Nonwangchai and Klinjui had started to brim when Klinjui failed to pay back a debt of about $1,500. But things took a turn for the worse when Klinjui had reported Nonwangchai's husband to the authorities for drug dealing and other drug-related offenses.
At first, police suspected Klinjui's husband Sakchai Bafthongdee, who was often away for work for her murder. But Bafthongee, was innocent, and shockingly, even unaware about his wife's double life. Klinjui told him that she was living a 'quiet life with her mother.
In reality, Klinjui was working as a bar hostess and was in a steady relationship with an old female classmate.
On May 23, 2017, CCTV footage revealed Klinjui heading inside a car—the last time she was seen alive. It was Nonwangchai and Ratchada who had lured the victim to her death after picking her up in the rented car on the pretext of discussing a job offer.
But Nonwangchai had lost her temper, which led to Klinjui's death as the former strangled her with a plastic bag.
According to Nonwangchai, they had only planned to assault Klinjui to teach her lesson. But during the assault, Klinjui had allegedly cried out, "If I survive, then you die.". The statement aggravated an already furious Nonwangchai to strangle her to death.
Following the strangulation, the murderers stopped at a hardware store to purchase a saw. From there, they took the body to a hotel room where, according to driver Wasin Namprom, ring leader Nonwangchai chopped the body, wrapped it in garbage bags, jammed into bins, and buried the remains a shallow grave. Steel sheets were then placed over the grave to further conceal the corpse in Khon Kaen's Khao Suan Kwang district.
But a foul smell alerted some passersby at the spot where the body was buried, leading to the discovery of the corpse. Police officials were able to identify Klinjui's based on her distinctive tattoos, thus began the goose hunt chase to catch the murderers.
Leading to their arrest, grim details began to surface about the lifestyle of the prime accused Nonwangchai, adding more drama to the ongoing mania surrounding the case.
Other than working as a hostess in a bar, Nonwangchai would also charge men up to 5,000 baht a night for her services and made money on the side as a sleazy web-camera model. Belonging to a rural community, she had gone extensively under the knife to look the way she does now.
She was a regular user of methamphetamine and had drugs-fueled sex sessions with customers and other women.
In June 2017, the 'Murder Babes' turned themselves over to authorities in Myanmar and were flown back to Thailand. All were officially charged with premeditated murder, theft, concealing a corpse, and overstaying their visas. Surprisingly, no drug trafficking charges were pressed against her despite the presence of evidence.
Nick-named 'butcher Praew', Nonwangchai and Ratchada were initially awarded life imprisonment by the provincial court of Khon Kaen Court on May 10. But the punishment was reduced to 34 years because they cooperated and confessed.
Satayabundit was found guilty of conspiracy to murder, destroy and hide the body, and consuming methamphetamine. She was handed 33 years and nine months in jail.
Their male friend Wasin Namprom, 22, was found guilty of being an accessory to the murder, conspiring to destroy and hide the body, and conspiring in theft—leading to a sentence of 23 years, four months and 20 days.
All arrested accused were ordered to pay 1.07 million baht ($33570) to support Klinjui's family and 100,000 baht ($3138) for her funeral.
A fifth defendant, Jidarat Promkhun, 23, was sentenced to one year for receiving the victim's stolen phone to sell.
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