A Kanchanaburi man has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering two young American-Thai boys and their babysitter on Children’s Day 2014 in Pattaya.
Prajak Masawang, 22, was sentenced to death for the rape and stabbing death of Wipawee Khamsai, 18; and stabbing of 7-year-old Joseph and strangling of 2-year-old Michael Liberman at their home in the Paradise Hill housing estate on Soi Boonsamphan on Jan. 11, 2014. He also was convicted of robbery at night.
However, the sentence was commuted to life in prison because Prajak confessed. The family of the victims said they were disappointed in the verdict, saying Prajak, who also was facing three arrest warrants by the time he committed the murders at age 19, deserved to die.
The tragic events began around 4:30 a.m. on Children’s Day, when an already drunk Prajak sat drinking and impatiently waiting for his South Pattaya go-go bar girlfriend to return from work outside the home of Jason Liberman and his wife Wilawan, who had driven 17-year-old Chanasda Thonarak to and from work.
Prajak allegedly forced his way past Wipawee – Wilawan’s niece from Sakon Nakhon – into the Lieberman home. When she shouted at him to leave, Prajak confessed to holding the girl by the heck while trying to rape her. Unable to perform, Prajak told police he then stabbed the girl three times in the stomach before slitting her throat.
The court sentenced him to six years each for the rape and robbery of the phone, with the judge cutting that in half for his confession.
During the fracas, 7-year-old Joseph intervened, coming to his cousin’s rescue and attempting to pull Prajak off her body. The suspect responded by slitting the boy’s throat.
The commotion also awoke 2-year-old Michael. Trying to stop neighbors from being alerted, Prajak told police he felt he had no choice but to kill the toddler by strangling him with a towel.
Rather than flee the bloody scene, however, Prajak went back outside and sat on his friend’s Honda motorbike until his girlfriend returned with Wilawan, who didn’t discover the murders until after the couple had sped away. Village security cameras caught them easily escaping without intervention by guards, who had let Prajak in despite him being drunk and refusing to surrender his identification card.
Prajak already was facing criminal charges in Kanchanaburi for robbing and cutting four fingers off a local man, as well as a warrant for attempted murder and kidnapping. He and his underage girlfriend fled to Pattaya where Wilawan helped her get a job in a Walking Street go-go.
Later the same day, Prajak telephoned and confessed to his father, who persuaded him to surrender to police. His father said he feared for his son’s life if he didn’t.
Judging by the reaction of the East Pattaya community, he was right. Police had to abort plans for their on-camera reenactment of the heinous crime Jan. 12, 2014 when nearly 1,000 people surrounded the Liberman property.
Despite Nongprue, Banglamung and Chonburi stations supplying about 200 officers to maintain security, the crowd broke through Lieberman’s fence, damaged their home and trashed the property as they fought to kill the suspect.