Security cameras in the Thai hotel, where the battered body of ‘beloved’ American university professor James Archibald Hughes was found, were not functioning. The six CCTV units had not recorded anything for more than two years, hotel staff told police.
Further, members of staff could tell police little of the comings of the 58-year-old academic, who had been staying in the Puang Pen Hotel in the resort town of Hua Hin for a month, apart from volunteering the facts that he left about 9am each morning to buy stuff outside and around that time paying his bill daily.
Police say they remain puzzled about the demand by administrators at the Webster University to require several American members of the academic staff to sign a ‘cease and desist’ order forbidding them from showing pictures of his dead body or talking about the case.
The contained threats by acting University director Keith Welsh was that if they did they would be reported to Hua Hin police or the U.S. Embassy. It is unclear what sort of threat that would be. But it is very possible breach of the order could be used as an excuse to terminate staff members.
In New York James Hughes’ brother, David, remains incensed at both lack of police investigation and lack of assistance by the US Embassy. The text of an angry complaint he made to Jane Vanelli of the United States Citizens Service is reproduced below.
Hua Hin police insist they will continue with the investigation and maintain they had no reason to be suspicious until the autopsy report came in. The US Embassy does not comment on consular cases.
James Hughes had retained his apartment near the university but moved to live in Hua Hin town centre for a month. What has not been answered are the following among many questions.
Who or what was he hiding from? Why did he have to cancel a planned trip to Chiang Mai with a colleague? What was he doing and where was he drinking for the last month and in particular on his last night?
He had been found with a comparatively high amount of alcohol in his blood but police made no mention has been found of alcohol or bottles or glasses in his room.
Where was he spending his money? He had made several high withdrawals of cash, according to his brother, but there was little money (about 100 baht), and only one change of clothes in his room.
There appears to be a consensus that Hughes was worried about something. But there is no indication of suicide and that was ruled out as cause of death.
Further, comments appearing to support the university’s stance are being pushed out under pseudonyms on social media. One such post on the web forum ThaiVisa.com clearly conveys the view there was nothing suspicious and suggests that, whatever happened, James Hughes had brought it on himself, and the matter should be now laid to rest.
The poster reported that apart from a generous tribute before his cremation, there had also been a memorial service for James ‘on the day that he died’ which would have been before his brother knew about the death.
‘You’ve heard of suicide by cop? How about suicide by bar patron? or by street thugs? or by taxi driver?’
The letter by ‘Pitty Sing’ was critical of the Bangkok Post article in the Spectrum section last seek ‘What happened to my dead brother?’ complaining that the Bangkok Post had not contacted the university for comment asking: ‘What kind of journalism is that?’
Not only had the Bangkok Post contacted the University but they had also prominently quoted the acting director Keith Welsh.
Hotel staff had opened up Hughes’ room on the top floor after he did not answer calls from the maid who wanted to clean his room.
According to police, they said they used a spare key but had to break the security chain. Police were not witness to the opening of the door.
Although the police strongly denied last week that the investigation had been closed, it is clear little further action was taken after his body was found in early September. David Hughes says he extensive injuries should have merited an immediate investigation and police should not have waited for the post mortem results.
Security cameras in That resorts can be a mixed blessing for Thailand. Recently in Hua Hin they recorded the savage pack attack on a British family who had been drinking in the town centre and the video went viral.
The attackers of a director of the privatised H.M.Stationery Office in the UK were also not caught on camera. Millionaire Keith Burbage had been in dispute in Hua Hin over a house he had bought only to find he had been given another house on a different plot, which he did not want. He was attacked late at night in the centre of town. This picture was taken after the attack. Mr. Burbage decided to retire in South America instead.
Nobody was ever charged with the attack.