A prime suspect in the high-profile gruesome murder of a karaoke bar girl last month has eerily become an overnight celebrity in Thailand.
Various media platforms in the country have become fixated on suspect Priyanuch Nonwangchai, also a bar girl, with round the clock news coverage that has placed her at the center of a puzzling national fascination that’s been dubbed “Preaw fever.”
With many treating the 24-year-old as an idol due to her deceptively charming good looks, academics and observers have become alarmed, according to AsiaOne.
Nonwangchai, who’s nicknamed Preaw, is involved in a crime that had a victim’s body sawn in half and then dumped in separate buckets in Khon Kaen province last month. According to investigators, the May 23rd murder may have been part of a revenge plot by Preaw and several accomplices against her fellow lounge girl named Warissara “Amm” Klinjui.
They are now looking into the motive as the victim reportedly tipped off the police about Preaw’s boyfriend who was recently arrested and charged over a drug-related case.
Observers believe that Preaw’s sudden “fame” is due to her looks, which AsiaOne describes as “looking like a Thai pop princess” who could easily “be mistaken for a model or TV star.”
Her photos, where she is shown posing like a model while wearing trendy clothes, have been widely circulated on social media.
Gossip sites and social media threads have also contributed in glamorizing the murder suspect, churning out unverified reports of her adventures and supposedly luxurious lifestyle.
Preaw, who earlier fled to Myanmar with two alleged accomplices, Kawita Rachada and Apiwan Satayabundit, eventually surrendered and were deported to Thailand earlier this month. It was later reported that 90 officers were involved in arresting Preaw and the two suspects.
Unfortunately, even police officers seemed to have been enthralled by Preaw’s charms — two police officers in Chiang Rai were recently punished and reassigned after taking photos with the pretty suspect.
The cops were also criticized for allowing the suspects to freely smoke, put makeup and walk around in the company of police officers as indicated in the now viral photos.
According to Chiangrai Times, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Rajanagarindra Institute director Dr. Mathurada Suwannapho has warned that the police officers’ friendly attitude towards the suspects could distort public perception.
Thai Police have since pressed premeditated murder charges against the suspects, with four of the five of them now facing the possibility of the death penalty.