American gets 43 years in prison
Police said Monday they still don’t have all the pieces to the puzzle to explain why an American calendar publisher wound up in a shophouse ice box after their lead suspect was sentenced to over four decades in prison.
The Phra Khanong District Court on Friday sentenced Herbert La Fon to 43 years in prison and a 300,000 baht fine over a year after a forgery ring raid led to the surprise discovery of the frozen body parts.
“He never confessed to anything really,” Maj. Gen. Somprasong Yenthuam said in an interview. “But he did say that he obtained the freezer himself.”
La Fon was convicted of illegally possessing weapons, attempted murder of a police officer, drug possession, passport forgery and concealing a body.
Of the 43-year sentence handed down by the court, 33 years were for the attempted murder of a tourist police sergeant La Fon shot when the authorities raided his residence on a tip that there was a foreign forgery ring operating there. The officers were attacked by La Fon, who is 64 and has been on the run from the US FBI since 1979.
Co-defendants Aaron Gabel and James Eger were both acquitted of crimes due to insufficient evidence, according to the court verdict.
The body was later found to be that of Charles Edward Ditlefson in the freezer, a Californian known for publishing calendars featuring trains.
No one has been made to answer for his death as neither Gabel, Eger nor La Fon were charged with his murder.
Who killed Ditlefson – and why – remains a mystery as La Fon heads to prison – probably for the rest of his life. From analysis of the slain man’s remains, police believe he could have been killed any time between 2008 and January 2016. A “truth serum” drug was also found in his blood.
On the raid date of Sept. 23, 2016, police found dismembered body parts in four bags in the freezer, dozens of fake passports and drugs including methamphetamine and marijuana.
In court, housemaid La Nanda and her husband Sor Ka Por Myin testified they both saw the freezer at La Fon’s while in his service. Sureeporn Sae-tang, a refrigerator seller at Kluay Naam Thai Karn Chang shop said she remembered that La Fon purchased the freezer in October 2008.
La Fon used the false names Peter Andrew Colter and William Peter Johnson and was on the run from the FBI for nearly four decades.
In court, he claimed to have fought in the Vietnam War.