Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

RUNNING FOR HIS LIFE: Scholar: My Thai wife is a murderer


Andrew Drummond


The Nation


Buri Ram


publish on Sep 18, 2002


An American academic who fled Thailand for Japan alleges that he was
tricked into covering up the brutal torture and murder of a Thai bar
girl, who he claims was killed by his ex-wife.


Police said they were investigating claims by Professor Jack Clontz,
63, a university lecturer with three degrees in philosophy, before
deciding whether to reopen the case of the girl's grisly death.


Clontz claimed the murder took place at the house he had bought for
his Thai wife - who he had since divorced - in the Northeastern province
of Buri Ram.


The 23-year-old bar girl, who worked in Bangkok, was allegedly beaten
for four hours before having a wok of boiling oil poured over her. She
died later in hospital.


Clontz said he fled Thailand after discovering that he was going to
be the next victim. He said he had invested more than US$100,000 (Bt4.3
million) in land, a home and car for himself and his wife, whom he had
met in a Patpong bar.


A spokesman for Buri Ram Hospital confirmed that the girl, Natsaporn
Yongyingpoon, also called Sorn, died in the intensive care unit on
August 2 of burns covering a third of her body.


Two witnesses, who were in the house at the time, have named Clontz's wife as the murder.


The parents of the dead girl, Jum and Von Yongyingpoon, said from
their home in Tambon Sadao, Amphur Praprachai, Buri Ram that they had
accepted Bt100,000 compensation.


'At first we were offered just Bt20,000 [by Clontz's ex-wife], but
when we said we would cover her with boiling oil for Bt30,000 [to cover
up Sorn's cause of death], she increased the offer,' said Jum.


Buri Ram Police Captain Borit Phromyotan said he would investigate the new claims.


'At the time all the witnesses said they knew nothing, or that the girl had done this to herself,' he said.


The Nation has handed Clontz's statement and the names of the
witnesses. The alleged murder took place his Buri Ram home, the 'House
that Jack Built' in Baan Sarapee, Amphur Muang.


'I am not going to be a party to this murder. I realise it was my
money that was used to keep this murder silent.' said Clontz. 'A vicious
criminal act of great moral turpitude has been committed without any
response. It's as if this girl did not exist,' he wrote in an e-mail to
The Nation.


'I fled Buri Ram after I was told by my wife's family they had heard
my wife planning to kill me near the Cambodian border and dump my body,'
he wrote in the e-mail.


'I had built a home for my wife and bought her a Honda Civic. I
realise now I had outlived my usefulness. I paid for and was provided
with a police bodyguard of seven officers to go back and collect my
belongings. They did not seem too interested in the murder.'


Clontz, a lecturer at the Maebashi Kyoai Gakuen College in Guma
Prefecture near Tokyo, married the woman in Bangkok two years ago.


They were an unlikely couple. Clontz, an intellectual from a
well-connected family, is the author of a paper entitled 'Heidegger's
Interpretation of the Role of the Transcendental Imagination in Kant's
Critique of Pure Reason'.


His ex-wife, 24, an ex-Patpong bar girl, is one of several children born to a family of rice farmers.


Clontz admitted he had lost all reason when he fell head over heels
for the woman. He showered her with gifts and planned to retire with her
to the home he built in Buri Ram.


Unknown to him however his wife had also used his cash to buy a separate plot of land and pick-up truck for her Thai lover.


In July he received a call in Japan from his wife, who was hiding in
Surin, after the alleged incident at his house. 'She said she had been
in a fight and needed Bt210,000 because she had injured someone while
trying to defend herself, Clontz said.


'As her husband it was my duty to support her, but when I came back
to Thailand it became clear quite quickly that the other girl was not
merely injured, she had been murdered.


'Before she died she was tortured for four hours. Her head was
repeatedly bashed against a wall, her hair was cut off with scissors and
finally she was dragged outside and boiling oil was poured over her.


'It transpired that my wife had a Thai 'husband' that I did not know
about. She even had a child by him while I was in Japan. She told me the
child was as a result of an indiscretion with a man who worked in a gay
bar and I believed her,' he said.


'Sorn was killed because she had apparently slept with my wife's Thai
lover. I knew her. She was a sweet jovial girl, quite plain, but
perhaps not very smart.'


Clontz comes from a well to do family in North Carolina. His brother
was an aide to former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright.


He is an expert linguist and speaks Japanese, Spanish, Tagalog,
Mandarin, French, German and all the Scandinavian languages, but not
Thai.


When The Nation visited his Buri Ram home yesterday it was deserted.
His ex-wife's father and brother have fled to relatives near the
Cambodian border.


Clontz said he said he hoped to convert his home into a 'Sorn
Memorial' and study centre for academics visiting the local Khmer ruins.

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