On Monday, Singapore Press Holdings news and lifestyle content aggregator AsiaOne reported about a grisly tale — how a vegetarian eatery in Bangkok apparently cut up a dead man and served human flesh to patrons. The report was sourced from Chinese-language daily Lianhe Zaobao, which in turn got the story from Malaysian publication Oriental Daily.
The thing is, it never happened. The truth was not as sensational as vegetarians inadvertently eating human flesh — police investigators who spoke to our sister site Coconuts Bangkok revealed that the restaurant wasn’t even open at the time.
But it was too late; the headline was too good to pass up. The likes of Vice, The Sun, The Daily Mail and Newsweek had a rollicking good time running the piece, citing AsiaOne as the source of the story.
Here’s what really happened. Pol. Lt. Col. Adul Thongpetch, an investigator with the Lat Krabang police, told Coconuts last night that since the restaurant wasn’t open, there were no customers dining during or after the period when the victim Prasit Inpathom, 61, was allegedly murdered.
A body was discovered in a septic tank behind the restaurant, but alas, no human flesh was served. To be fair, blood and bits of brain were found splashed across the kitchen.
“We suspect he was murdered on Oct. 21,” Lt. Col. Adul said in an interview.
“This restaurant hasn’t fully completed construction. They opened for three days towards the end of the vegetarian festival (which ended Oct. 17). This means the restaurant had been closed for several days before the man died,” he said.
Lat Krabang police spokesman Sub-Lt. Sawang Wongbut also told the same story when contacted by Coconuts.
“This is just a murder investigation,” he said, chuckling at the widely reported angle.
Asked if there was any indication that the victim’s flesh was missing (and possibly used in cooking), Lt. Col. Adul said no, only that the victim had taken a severe beating to his head and face.
“That’s not accurate at all,” he added.
The murder suspect, identified as Boonyuen Kamtawee, was the brother of the restaurant’s owner and being paid to work on its construction. The victim, meanwhile, also received money for helping Boonyuen out, and the pair was often seen drinking together late at night. The suspect has since turned himself in on Oct. 27 following the arrest warrant. He declined to cooperate with police and is now working with his lawyer to defend himself in court.
AsiaOne has since updated their article to correct the facts, blaming foreign media reports for the erroneous information.