It was twenty years ago this month, on the 9th August to be exact, when the body of young Welsh backpacker, Kirsty Sarah Jones, 23, was found in Moon Muang’s Aree Guesthouse.
This weekend her killer will get away with the crime forever as Thai laws only gives prosecutors 20 years to lay down a charge for murder. The past twenty years has seen dozens of suspects, numerous arrests and a ‘shambolic’ investigation, according to the BBC.
“Twenty years still feels like yesterday,” wrote Sue Jones, Kirsty’s mother, to Citylife editor-in-chief- Pim Kemasingki with whom she has been in touch with over the years. “I feel angry, disappointed and so very sad that no one has been brought to justice. Kirsty had her whole life ahead of her, her killer is walking free. I hope I have done her proud in trying my very best to get answers. Kirsty is missed every single day, getting justice would not have made the loss any less, but it may have brought some sense of closure.”
Kirsty was brutally raped and strangled to death in the small hours of the morning in a small guesthouse filled with tourists and staff, most of whom were accused at one point or another of the murder in a sensational and often extraordinary case which captured the world’s attention. (It was a quiet news week, the sinking of the Kurst submarine being the only other big news item at the time and the world press – CNN, ABC, Reuters, AP – were all here to cover it.)
Kemasingki, then only 27 years old herself, was hired first by the BBC, then Channel 4 UK for a total of four and a half months to follow the case, contributing stories to The Guardian, The Times and other media outlets worldwide. Over that time she followed leads to hunt down suspects ranging from dangerous drug dealers to the corrupt tourist police as well as working on the system by meeting and interviewing the powerful, from Thailand’s national police chief San Sarutanon to forensics Khun Ying Pornthip Rojanasunandand. In 2012 she wrote down her (dimming) recollections of the shenanigans that went on around the tragic death of Kirsty in this series of recollections. Read Kirsty’s story, which we may never tell again. For twenty years we have been trying to keep Kirsty’s story alive, and this will all come to an end this weekend. It is a horror story of an innocent young girl surrounded by a cast of incredibly suspicious people, corrupt police, tortured scapegoats, outrageous media behaviour…and at the end of the day it is a story of a girl lost to her loving family.