19 Mar 19
THE heartbroken parents of the “Lady of the Hills” yesterday begged British cops: “Find our daughter’s killer.”
Buasa and Joomsri Seekanya have spent 15 years searching for answers after their daughter Lamduan vanished in 2004.
Buasa Seekanya, 75, and wife Joomsri, 73, have been seeking answers since their daughter vanished in 2004
They had no idea she had been murdered, dumped in a remote stream in the Yorkshire Dales and then buried in an anonymous grave.
Her killer got away with at the time because police ruled she had died of natural causes even though she was half-naked and wasn’t wearing shoes.
The Sun revealed yesterday how police are now investigating her relationship with husband David Armitage, 55, after a cold case concluded she was murdered and Thai authorities identified the body as Lamduan by her fingerprints.
David, who works as an English teacher at a university in Thailand, has denied any involvement in her death.
Lamduan’s parents are praying that recent developments in the case mean they will finally get justice for the eldest of their six children.
Her frail father Buasa, 75, said: “Our message to the police in England is: ‘Please arrest the person who has done this to our daughter.”
And mum Joomsri, 73, added: “Lamduan was a beautiful woman and we miss her.
This tragedy has destroyed our family. Our hearts are broken.
“We pray that the British police can get justice for Lamduan.”
Lamduan grew up in the tiny village of Baan Phon, in Thailand’s poor, rural north, around 15 miles from the border with Laos.
Lamduan Seekanya was unidentifiable for 15 years, despite numerous public appeals – she was named ‘The Lady of the Hills’ by locals
Her family are subsistence farmers and her mum told how Lamduan readily helped on their three-acre plot with tending their cows and crop of tomatoes as well as caring for her younger siblings.
Speaking at the farm she said: “Lamduan was a happy, funny child and loved to play with her younger brothers and sisters.
“She was a polite child but she was also straight talking which is unusual for Thai children.
“She was very helpful, she helped look after her siblings and helped us on the farm.
“She loved to go school and never missed a class unless we needed her to help us on the farm.
“Children in this village normally leave school at grade six but she loved it so much she stayed on.
“She went to another school and had to ride there each day.
“She was the only girl in the village to stay on after grade six.
“She had to cycle 12km (7.5 miles) each day to school and the same home again but she didn’t mind because she loved it so much. She wanted to become a teacher.”
When she was 19 she fell pregnant to a local man but they split six days after her son Khwan was born.
Lamduan’s previous husband, David, who works as an English teacher at a university in Thailand, has denied any involvement in her death
Shortly after she moved to the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai looking for work and in June 1990 met David, who was working as an English teacher in Bangkok.
Joomsri was worried the relationship would not work out because they were so different.
She said: “I did not want her to have a relationship with David. He was an English teacher and teachers have a very high status in Thailand but we are just common village people.
“He is British and Christian and we are Thai and Buddhist. We are totally different in every way.
“I was worried that the marriage would not go well but I did not tell Lamduan because I did not want to interfere.”
Despite her misgivings Joomsri was impressed with her future son-in-law when she met him for the first time.
She said: “I thought David was a kind man and quite generous.
“He was a polite person. He even asked permission to go to the toilet which surprised me because no-one does that here.
“After their wedding they stayed here for just one day
and then travelled around Thailand for their honeymoon.”
Lambduan would keep in contact with her parents by letter and once told her parents she wanted to divorce David
After their wedding in January 1991 they decided to move to the UK and left for a new life in Portsmouth in July 1991.
Lamduan’s mum said: “When she said she was going to the UK I felt like I was going to miss her a lot.
“Mainly she kept in touch by letter. She would write a few letters a month because we had no telephone.
“To phone us she would phone a neighbour and tell them to come and tell me that she would ring back in a few hours. Then at the right time I would go and speak to her on the neighbour’s phone.”
David was working as a £21,000-a-year lecturer and Lamduan was helping out by earning £3,000 a year from part-time restaurant work.
They had their first child George in February 1992, and bought a three-bed semi in Portsmouth in 1994 with the help of a £56,000 mortgage from the Woolwich building society.
The following year her son Khwan moved to the UK to live with them and in May 1999 they had their second child, daughter Charlena.
But their marriage soon ran into difficulty. Joomsri said: “She said they had a problem keeping up with the mortgage payments on the house. Lamduan needed to work to earn money to pay for the mortgage.
“Then Lamduan told me they wanted to divorce. She said they both wanted to get the right to look after the children.
“One time before she went missing she had a problem with David so she came back to Thailand alone.
IN THE DARK FOR 15 YEARS
“She stayed here for two nights but she then got a call from their children. The wanted her to return so after two nights here she went back.
“Lamduan said she and David were arguing.
“In 2004 she made a phone call complaining that she had no money, not even a single penny.
“She said she missed home so much. It was a very short call, just one or two minutes.
“That’s the last time she got a call.”
A year later Lamduan’s family reported her missing to the local police and the British Embassy in Bangkok.
But as she had not been reported missing in the UK there was nothing anyone could do to help them.
They even sold some cows at one stage to pay for a lawyer to try and find her but he had no success.
Her family would be in the dark for another 15 years, unaware that Lamduan had been murdered in 2004 and dumped in a remote spot in the Yorkshire Dales.
Walkers found her face down in a stream near the Three Peaks wearing just a pair of light-coloured socks and green Marks & Spencer jeans and with a ripped white bra hanging off her left arm.
A turquoise and white horizontally striped T-shirt was later found nearby but her shoes were never recovered.
Pathologists thought she may have died of hypothermia after getting lost while out walking and although she wasn’t wearing hiking gear North Yorkshire Police decided her death was not suspicious.
A coroner returned an open verdict in 2007 and she was buried in an anonymous grave in St Oswald’s Church, in Horton-in-Ribblesdale, after villagers clubbed together to pay for her funeral.
Her headstone reads “The Lady of The Hills” and poignantly states: “Found 20th Sept 2004…Name Not Known…Rest in Peace.”
Her parents had only met David and the children a couple of times and said they have not heard from him once since Lamduan vanished.
The next contact they had with any of her relatives was when her son George travelled to see them in 2016.
He was getting married and wanted his mum to attend the wedding and he quizzed his grandparents about her whereabouts.
Joomsri said: “George said David had told him that his mother had remarried and lived in Udon Thani which is near to our village.
“That was why George came to see us.
“It is impossible that Lamduan would come back here and not tell her family.
“By then I knew in my mind that Lamduan must be dead but it has still been a shock to learn that that is the case.
A hiker posed for a photo without realising that Lambduan’s corpse was in the stream
“After the news broke some staff came from the Embassy to speak to us. That was at the end of January. We have not heard from them since.
“We had a letter in late February saying that fingerprints from the body and Lamduan’s match.
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“I want the killer to confess and serve a punishment according to the law.
“To the person who killed her we say that they should give themselves up to the police.”
North Yorkshire Police have said they will release an update once DNA tests they are performing to confirm the body is Lamduan are completed.
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