This karaoke girl is hot in Thailand right now - but for the wrong reasons

Pictures of 'Preaw' from Facebook show her fun-loving ways.
PHOTO: Facebook
W.T.M. Why This Matters
Karaoke lounge worker Priyanuch Nonwangchai is a prime suspect in a gruesome murder, which saw the victim's body being cut in half. But media reports on the case and photos of the attractive woman have turned her into an internet sensation and a teen idol for schoolgirls - something which has alarmed society watchers.

Within a few days, a karaoke bar girl has became an overnight celebrity of sorts in Thailand fueled by the latest news and gossip about her in the media across all platforms.

The fascination with Preaw, whose full name is Priyanuch Nonwangchai, since last week, has become so frenzied that society watchers and academics were not just bewildered but alarmed.

You see, Preaw is a prime murder suspect. And the killing wasn't an ordinary one. The victim's body was sawed in half before the parts were dumped in two buckets in a forest in Khon Kaen province last month.

The police believe the murder on May 23 was part of a revenge plot against a fellow lounge girl by Preaw and her accomplices because they believed she had tipped off authorities about Preaw's boyfriend who was arrested for drug-related charges.

For those of you who have not followed this high-profile murder case closely, below are five reasons for Preaw's sudden fame, which has also reached foreign shores.

Preaw (squatting in the middle) when caught along with alleged suspects.Photo: The Nation


1. Her sex appeal

Photo: Facebook

Looking like a Thai pop princess, the 24-year-old reportedly worked at a karaoke lounge in Myanmar for a few days before she surrendered with alleged accomplices.

She could be mistaken for a model or TV star with her photogenic face, trendy dressing, long tresses and numerous tattoos. Her photos have been widely circulated on social media.

Her good looks were also compared to that of the victim - karaoke lounge singer Warissara "Amm" Klinjui - whose photos of her in revealing clothes also went viral.

'Amm', the victim.
Photo: Facebook


2. Twists and turns, and fake news

Photos of the five murder suspects including a man (on the left below)Photo: The Nation

Preaw fled to Myanmar with two alleged accomplices - Kawita Rachada and Apiwan Satayabundit - following the alleged crime. But they surrendered to Myanmar authorities in early June and were deported to Thailand.

Four of the five suspects are facing the death penalty after police pressed premeditated murder charges against them.

The gruesome crime itself made gripping news but rife speculation on various aspects of the deed as well as fake news continued to grip public attention.

For instance, reports linking the murder to drug smuggling turned out to be false although Preaw has had a record on drug-related offences.

3. Police role in promoting sensational news

Preaw with white powder on her face at a police station.Photo: The Nation

Two police officers in Chiang Rai could not resist taking photos with a smiling Preaw after she was handed over by Myanmar officials. Their photos went viral very quickly. The officers were punished and transferred out of their posts.

The police also came under fire when the public were shocked to see the suspects being allowed to smoke, put makeup and walk around unrestrained in the company of officers in photos that went viral on social media.

Then the police came under the spotlight again when it was reported that 90 cops were involved in arresting Preaw and the two suspects.

A government watchdog found it hard to believe that so many officers were involved even though the arrest report showed all their names.

4. News about Preaw's rich lifestyle

News about her private life, her pals and enemies were eagerly lapped up, even when they came from questionable sources.

Many people think she's rich as her photos show a luxurious lifestyle on her social media account.

She also reportedly expressed her gratitude to her family by sending them large amounts of money.

Gossipy news on her accomplices also helped to popularise their saga as if it's a running drama series. For instance, it was reported that one of her accomplices had millions of baht in her bank account.

Screengrab from a video shows Preaw being escorted by police officers.

5. Her frequent 'personal' trips to Singapore

The police revealed that Preaw often travelled to Malaysia and Singapore for work which was described as her "private matter" by one officer.

"She said she wanted to have money just like others. She has to take care of her parents," Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda was quoted as saying in a report on KhaoSod news site.

Gruesome murder of Thai woman has nation transfixed

  • The recent murder allegedly committed by a heavily tattooed, attractive girl has captured the attention of media outlets inside in the country and internationally.
  • The three suspects - Priyanuch Nonwangchai, 24, Kawita Rachada, 26, and Apiwan Satayabundit, 28 - fled to Myanmar after allegedly killing Warisara Klinjui, 22, in late May. 
  • The driver of the rented car and his girlfriend, who is also a friend of the main suspect, were also arrested.
  • After fleeing across the border to Myanmar, the female suspects in the high-profile gruesome murder of Warisara Klinjui, 22, were eventually surrendered to Myanmar police opposite Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district in the northern region.
  • The victim's chopped-up body was found in two buckets in a bamboo forest in Khao Suan Kwang district in Khon Kaen. Her body was cut in half and her neck showed traces that someone had unsuccessfully tried to cut her head off.
  • Initially police could not identify the victim but they followed a clue provided by a tattoo on her body and eventually linked it to Warisara.
  • After the alleged murder, they escaped to Myanmar on May 25 via checkpoint in Chiang Rai province.
  • After surrendering to police in Myanmar, they were taken to Bangkok by a police helicopter.
  • As media attention on the suspects escalated, controversial images of police officers and suspects in the gruesome killing of karaoke singer Warisara Klinjui seemingly in a relaxed mood were leaked onto social media.
  • It drew criticims that police seemed eager to please suspects who had been charged with such a grisly murder.
  • Photos showing the suspects putting on make-up in a police station were leaked.
  • The three were also apparently not handcuffed when handed over from Myanmar authorities to Thai police, which was claimed to be against the rules.
  • 2 immigration police officers in Chiang Rai province were subsequently transferred out of their posts for taking photos with a smiling Priyanuch.
  • According to reports, Priyanuch has claimed she did not intend to kill the victim.
  • “I had no intention to kill her. If I did, I would have fled [and not come back],” said Priyanuch.
  • Police brought the suspects back to the scene of the crime for a re-enactment .
  • Many of the onlookers became angry and booed throughout the re-enactment.
  • Priyanuch claimed she loved the victim and did not know what to do when she realised she had killed her
  • She later confessed that she killed Warisara Klinjui due to a personal grudge concerning narcotics and a debt.
  • But people were shocked to discover that Priyanuch had apparently changed her Facebook cover photo on May 13, depicting Chucky, the doll character in horror films that delights in mutilating people.
  • Four of the five suspects in the much publicised dismemberment case of the karaoke bar worker are facing the death penalty.
  • The rented car where the strangulation of the victim had allegedly taken place.

 

chenj@sph.com.sg

 

 

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