Thursday, 6 October 2016

10/06/2016 09:07:00 pm
Dismembered man in Bangkok freezer identified as U.S. railway exec but death still shrouded in mystery.

When this photo was taken in 2003, Charles Ditlefsen had a $20-million business in California printing nostalgic calendars for railway buffs.
Police on Thursday were waiting for American officials to formally confirm the identity of a body found in the freezer of a passport forgery den they believe to be that of U.S. national Charles Edward Ditlefsen.

We now know his name: Charles Edward Ditlefsen, a one-time California railway executive who later published calendars filled with pictures of old trains.

But no one knows for certain why he was killed, cut into several large pieces and stashed in a large freezer by one or more members of an apparent passport fraud gang in Bangkok, Thailand — and kept there for as long as eight years.

Another American with a mysterious past, now positively identified as Herbert Craig La Fon, has admitted dismembering the body, but not killing Ditlefsen, according to the Bangkok Post.

La Fon, when first arrested with two accomplices during a police raid on Sept. 23, identified himself as a British citizen named Peter Andrew Colter, although he was found with two other passports with different nationalities, names and ages. La Fon has been wanted by the FBI since 1979.

Herbert Craig La Fon is arrested in Thailand on charges relating to the death of a U.S. man. La Fon admits to dismembering the body, but not to killing Charles Ditlefsen.

This British passport is one of three for the same man police found at the site of the raid.

Early speculation among some Thai psychologists quoted in local media was that La Fon and the man in the freezer, who was then unknown, had been lovers and that when the mystery man died, La Fon couldn’t bear to part with the body.

That speculation has since disappeared, but not replaced with any clear alternative explanation for keeping the body, even as the massive freezer was moved from one Bangkok address to another several months ago.

Under “tense interrogation” Friday and Saturday, La Fon told police that the killing was the result of an outstanding debt, the Bangkok Post reported. La Fon claimed he had colluded with another friend, who died of cancer several months ago, in killing the victim in 2008 over the debt, but denied actually killing Ditlefsen, The Post quoted Thai-language media as saying.

An autopsy, CT scan, dental and other forensic tests on the grisly remains pointed to the victim being “an eastern European, possibly a Hungarian man, who was between 40 and 50 years old and 179.5 cm in height,” the Post reported Saturday.

Working from that information, police are now certain the dead man is Ditlefsen, said police chief Lt. Gen. Sanit Mahathavorn, although that has not yet been confirmed by U.S. authorities.

According to a 2003 profile in the San Francisco Business Times, Ditlefsen, trained as an engineer, had been a transportation planner in Marin County, Calif., in the late 1970s and a fan of old trains. When a publisher stopped printing annual calendars with photos of old railway scenes, he decided to start doing it on his own.

Police officers examine the large freezer inside which the body was found.

It began as a sideline, but by 2003, he had quit being a bureaucrat and had built Cedco Publishing Co. into a $20-million business. His now outdated calendars are still widely available online.

“By the second year of the calendar I was already making more money than when I worked as an engineer,” he told the San Francisco Business Times.

Cedco appears to have disappeared around 2005, not long before Thai authorities believe Ditlefsen died. In a chatroom at the online site Trains, one person wrote plaintively in November 2005: “Does anyone know what happened to Cedco Publishing: Are they out of business?”

Oddly, any online mention of Ditlefsen, presumably well known in the San Francisco area at the time, also died around that time, with no indication that he was the subject of a search.

So what is his connection with the shady La Fon and his two co-accused in the fraudulent passport business, fellow Americans James Eger and Aaron Gabel?

While the debt theory is possible, police also believe he may have been killed so that the passport forgers “could use his passport information to make a fake one for financial transactions and to embezzle his assets.”

None of the Thai media reports offer any suggestion as to why Ditlefsen was in the country in the first place, nor why no one appears to have been searching for him for nearly a decade.

Source: National

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