Other versions of this story by same author
From Andrew Drummond, Bangkok
January 22 2009
A British music teacher and musical director was found brutally murdered in the northern Thai capital of Chiang Mai early today.
And the culprit, said police, performed a hill tribe ritual to hide his deed from animist spirits to aid his escape.
Police suspect the killer of Derby born David Lyall Crisp, 56, was a
member of the Shan, a hill tribe which straddles the Burma-Thai border.
Before the killer left the murder scene he smashed the ceiling light in
Crisp's home office on the Lakeland Estate in Chiang Mai, a custom which
Shan tribesmen believe would put the police off their trail.
'Shan believe if they destroy the light the spirits will not see them
and they will be harder to catch. The superstition has remained since
electricity generators was introduced with difficulty into some hill
tribe villages,' said Police Colonel Pattipol Serichaichana.
The body of David Lyall was found shortly after 10 am. 'He had beaten
about the head with a teak mug. His throat had also been cut with a six
inch knife and the murderer tried to finish the act off by smothering
him in a cloth which covered his piano,' added Colonel Pattipol.
David Crisp was a prominent member of the Chiang Mai expatriate
community. He drove a BMW 5 series, and owned a classic Citroen and was
a member of the Classic Cars of Lanna (the old northern kingdom of
He was also director of a choral society known as the 'Spirit House
Singers' and earned a living from writing and directing music and
teaching the piano.
But David Crisp also dabbled in the gay bars for which the northern
capital is famous and according to his housekeeper Prinjai Saedin, 73:
'He often brought young men home, so I knew he was gay. But I don't
think he would ever harm anyone'.
Two young men whom, known only as Wan and Am, whom he had brought from a
gay bar to live at the back of his house, have since disappeared,
possibly fearing they would be blamed.
But on January 20th he had brought home a young man who has not been
seen since. Police Colonel Pattipol said enquiries were being carried
out around the gay bars in Chiang Mai's night market. When his body was
found Crisp had been dead or at least 24 hours.
'We believe the murderer is of Shan origin because of the ritual of
smashing the light. It appears the murderer made away in his second car a
Citroen, which we have found, and may have taken a safe with him as
there are drag marks outside his front door.'
Other local superstitions collected by Richard Barrow, a Briton teaching in Thailand.
*Do not let your children play with shadows during the evening. The shadow guy will come and take them away.
* Do not walk with your face down. It will make your life shorter.
* Do not stamp around the house. It will scare the spirits of the house.
* Do not walk heavily. You won't be able to save any money.
* Do not walk across any sharp objects. It will make them blunt.
* Do not cut your nails during the night-time. It will be like breaking the bones of your ancestors.
* Do not take off your clothes or sleep next to the closet. A ghost will come to haunt you.
Author's note: Since this article was publish the Shan
Herald News Agency have been in touch to point out that they are unaware
of any such superstition connected to the Shan. Indeed I have not heard
of such a superstition attributed to the Shan. The source of such
superstitions and the ones above gathered by Richard Barrow are
rather vague. Such a superstition would much more probably be grounded
in animism, which some people living in Tai Yai areas and in the Shan
States of Burma can follow, no matter what their religious beliefs. I am
treating this as just another statement issued by Thai police, who had
been told that Crisp knew some young Shan men, until the next
development, and trust the Shan or Tai Yai, will not take this as a
personal affront. I have worked and filmed with the Shan and those who
know me will not have done so.
A reader has pointed out that the Shan are a race NOT a hill
tribe. So are the Karen etc. As I Scot I am prepared to go along with
that and not be pedantic and not go too far back in history. But its
not what the English used to think of the Scots according to the words
of their old national anthem!