BANGKOK – After his arrest on Sept 23 following a police raid and shootout, American Herbert Craig La Fon, 63, has remained relatively silent.
According to the Bangkok Post and Stickboy Bangkok, Herbert Craig La Fon appears to have deceived many of the people around him for decades.
In days following his arrest, Mr La Fon’s true identity remained concealed after several different passports with different details were found in a safe at his Sukhumvit Soi 56 house.
His identity was only confirmed to Thai authorities on Wednesday after the FBI checked its fingerprint database at the request of the Thai Police.
Pol Col Nithithorn Chintakanon, deputy commander of the Tourist Police Division told the Bangkok Post that under interrogation Mr La Fon started talking and told police interrogators that he was a war vet with a background in chemistry and had produced weapons for the army.
He also claimed he had lived in the UK as a child before relocating to the US, where he has citizenship. By Friday, police alleged he admitted he was involved in the dismemberment of the body, but denied murdering the victim.
When the story broke, several people who knew Mr La Fon contacted Stickboy Bangkok, saying Mr La Fon largely kept to himself at a bar on Patpong Soi 2, and that he and Mr Eger Gabel were known as the “Sang Som” gang for ordering the cheap local rum.
Those who drank with Mr La Fon say they heard stories from him, but doubted they were true.
One bar customer is alleged to have said “He hasn’t been in the US in over 20 years and hates America. He Blames Vietnam for ruining his life,”Â “At times he has made claims of CIA ties but my friends who do have ties have always said [Mr La Fon] was full of sh*t.”
News of his arrest shocked many who knew him, including the owner of the Soi 2 bar.
“I was surprised, because he didn’t come across as an aggressive person,” Thai owner told the Bangkok Post, adding that Mr La Fon had been a regular customer for two years.
Stickboy Bangkok reported that Police had interviewed several key witnesses and provided evidence to suggest La Fon is being economical with the truth, which is hardly surprising for a man with multiple identities, on the run from the FBI since 1979 for credit card fraud, and hiding the dismembered body of his â€œfriendâ€ in a freezer for eight years.
Pol Col Nithithorn said according to the FBI a federal warrant was issued for Mr La Fon in June 1979 in Baltimore, Maryland, in connection with credit card fraud. FBI information showed he used 16 aliases, had extensive martial arts training and is a kick-boxer.
An FBI wanted poster for Mr La Fon shows he owned a sporting goods business in Mexico and spoke Spanish. It also said he was “armed and dangerous”.
The US embassy in Bangkok has declined to comment on details of the case due to the sensitivity and privacy issues, saying only that “Thai authorities did make specific requests and US law enforcement agencies are responding appropriately”.
Three Americans are charged on five counts, including attempting to kill an official on duty, resisting arrest, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, forging official documents and concealing a corpse.