Dear expats and readers,
It’s been a long day and an even longer night for me — personal reasons, but it’s no excuse to get a dispatch out to you all.
After all, we all need our daily Crime Pill.
I’ll get crackin’ and to the point — we’ll start with the Good, and get to the Bad and the Ugly at the end.
The other day I came across an article from Twitter, written by an expert in organized crime and drugs who’s based in Bangkok.
The article, written for the Oxford Political Review, and titled “Southeast Asia has a synthetic drug problem, China has key stake in fixing it” can be found here.
It zeroes in on Asia’s largest drug bust, which happened in Shan State, Myanmar in 2020. With deft argument and both a broad and deep knowledge of the subject matter, the author — John Wojcik — connects the massive bust to Chinese machinations in the region.
The article is best to be read in the original, rather than a poor summary that I could offer with my tired hands and droopy eyes — it is 2AM in Thailand as I write this — so I’d suggest you hop over with that link and give it a long glance.
It would be amiss if I shared this expert’s research and didn’t chip in with my own. Not for the sake of self-aggrandizement, but simply to drop another flavor into the pot for you to stew on.
I wrote a piece on the same bust, and made similar connections to China’s influence in a piece I wrote in December 2020, which you can find here: Myanmar's Apocalyptic Bust: The Story of Asia’s Biggest Drug Seizure that You Never Heard About.
My focus is on the fentanyl and the precursors found in the legendary bust. I say legendary, but its real story has barely been told, as all the research I’ve done on it revealed that it got overlooked in the media — I reckon because of the dominance of Covid in the headlines.
But no matter. If you’ve any interest in narcotics in the Golden Triangle and the likely trajectory that drugs will take in the next decade — go give it a read, if you haven’t already.
With opiates and meth out of the way, it’s time for the Bad and the Ugly: another murder, this time in Nan province, this time a pregnant Thai woman as victim, this time an American man who confessed.
It’s time for today’s Crime Pill.
Spoiler: he has been detained; I wrote this article originally before that information had been released.
Hunt Underway for American Man, Jason Balzer, Suspected in the Disappearance of Pregnant Thai Girlfriend in Nan Province
On May 5th, 2021, reports surfaced of a missing pregnant woman by the name of Ms. Pichapon Kidchob, nickname Som-O, aged 32, in Nan province. Reports vary on how far along Som-O is with her pregnancy, some say 2 months others say 4 months.
Som-O's mother told reporters that she talked to her daughter last on May 2nd around noon. The mother sent another message at around 1:40PM to Som-O but this message was never answered. She tried contacting Som-O several times by phone, once an hour until midnight, but still no answer.
The following day on May 3rd, the mother went to Som-O's home. She found Mr. Balzer there, the father in Som-O's pregnancy, and asked him where her daughter was. Mr. Balzer answered Som-O's mother in English, which she did not understand except a few words, "Som-O is not happy" and pointed to a car that the couple owned. He also said that Som-O was pregnant and rubbed his hand on his stomach, indicating that her stomach was irritated from the pregnancy.
Shortly after the exchange, Mr. Balzer set off on his offroad bike. He is believed to have gone from Nan province to Phrae.
Som-O's mother thought Mr. Balzer was only going to get some food nearby, but he didn't return. He left all his belongings, including clothes scattered on the floor.
Som-O's family filed a missing person's report with Nan city police that evening. Police examined CCTV footage near the house and saw an orange Ford pick-up truck drive from the house.
The footage also showed Mr. Balzer put a mattress and air purifier in the truck. Police later found the mattress about 10 kilometers from the family's home. The mattress was covered in blood, which the family believes is Som-O's.
The family believes that the two fought over the recent purchase of the offroad bike, but they were ultimately unsure what happened.
Neighbors told reporters that the couple, Som-O and Mr. Balzer, appeared to be in love. They moved into the moo-baan about 3-4 months previously. They often took evening walks together with their dogs.
However, the neighbors did report that on April 29th, they saw Som-O and Mr. Balzer fight. They heard Som-O yell "Fuck you!" to Mr. Balzer, but he did not respond. This surprised the neighbors because they never saw the two fight.
More than 40 people have been mobilized in the search for Som-O, who is still missing.
According to reports, the couple met in Phuket and had been together less than a year.
One Thai report states that Mr. Balzer arrived to Thailand in December of 2020.
Further research into Mr. Balzer's background reveals a variety of criminal charges in the state of Colorado back in the United States.
Most recently, on December 30th, 2020, Mr. Balzer was pulled over and arrested in Mead, Colorado. Officers found 72 firearms in the vehicle. Mr. Balzer was arrested for 74 violations of a protection order, two felony counts of possession of an illegal weapon, and two counts of a dangerous weapon.
Mr. Balzer was taken to the Weld County Jail and paid bail.
This report conflicts with the timeline in Thai, but it would seem to indicate that sometime shortly after his arrest, Mr. Balzer fled Colorado to come to Thailand. After arriving, he met up with Som-O in Phuket and moved to Nan province, where her family is from.
This wasn't Mr. Balzer's only run in with the law.
In April 2019, he was arrested on suspicion of attempted second degree murder, felony menacing, second degree assault, third degree assault, tampering with physical evidence, criminal mischief, obstruction of telephone use, aiming a firearm at a person, criminal tampering and domestic violence.
The case involved a woman in Longmont, Colorado who called police after Mr. Balzer broke into her bedroom while she was sleeping and demanded sex.
The woman said she was tired, which angered Mr. Balzer. He took her phone, grabbed her arms, hit her face, slammed her head into the bed's headboard five times. He then grabbed a revolver and put it to her head saying, "I will kill you."
The woman pushed the revolver aside, and it fired, the round barely missing her head. While Mr. Balzer was covering up the bullet hole in the wall, she fled to a neighbor's house and called police.
The woman also said Mr. Balzer had strangled her two weeks prior to this incident.
Mr. Balzer was booked into Boulder County Jail and had bond set at $100,000. Prior to this incident he had no prior criminal history, except for traffic violations.
The case resolved in December 2019 when Mr. Balzer had nearly all of the serious felony charges dropped against him, due to the victim was unable to testify against him.
Mr. Balzer was sentenced to two years of probation for one count of third-degree assault, which he pleaded guilty to.
True Crime Thailand will update this story if and when there is resolution in the disappearance of Som-O.
Video of the Mr. Balzer’s arrest:
Sources: https://www.greeleytribune.com/2021/01/01/mead-police-seize-79-firearms-following-traffic-stop/, https://www.timescall.com/2019/12/06/man-sentenced-to-probation-attempted-murder-charge-dropped-in-longmont-case/, https://www.thairath.co.th/news/local/north/2084475, https://www.amarintv.com/news/detail/78500
What’s My Take on Mr. Balzer and the disappearance of Som-O?
It’s first important to note that Mr. Balzer was found in Hang Dong, Chiang Mai, and further confessed to the murder of Som-O.
Further still, more info has come out in the Thai press — Mr. Balzer knew Som-O since 2017 in Phuket.
He took her back Stateside, married her there, had trouble with the law, came back in early 2021.
But wait — that trouble with the law?
That time he was arrested for attempted murder, and the woman didn’t show up to testify — and he was released on a 2 year probation?
One wonders if that wasn’t Som-O…
I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but according to this article in Ejan, Som-O did go back with him to America and they only returned in March 2021.
And just two months after landing in Thailand — assuming they did the 2 week ASQ — he succeeds in ending her life, and the life of an unborn child.
He killed Som-O, stabbing her twice in the stomach, and stuffed her naked body in a trash can.
And this is the letter that Mr. Balzer left for Som-O’s mother — even though she doesn’t speak a lick of English.
I will be contacting the Longmont Police Department and relevant authorities to see if there is any lead on who the victim was in April 2019 in the attempted murder case.
My gut tells me it was Som-O.
If so, and if I can prove it, you will be the first to know.
That’s all for today…
Until tomorrow’s Crime Pill, stay safe out there everybody.
- True Crime Thailand