Murderer of six arrested after 43 years on the run

By Pham Linh   January 6, 2024 | 05:03 am PT
Murderer of six arrested after 43 years on the run
Phan Thanh Viet (L), part of a gang that killed six people in 1981, is at a police station, Jan. 6, 2024. Photo courtesy of the police
A man in central Quang Ngai Province was arrested for murdering six people, 43 years after claiming their lives.

Phan Thanh Viet, 71, was arrested in Ca Mau in southern Vietnam Saturday by the police of Quang Ngai to be investigated for murder and robbery.

An investigator said that Viet’s appearance barely changed over the last 43 years while he was wanted for his crime. As he had several defining features, including lost finger parts, Viet quickly admitted to his crime at the moment of his arrest.

In April 1981, Viet and four other accomplices in Quang Ngai hatched a plan to persuade people to migrate overseas by boat, before murdering them to steal their belongings, according to investigation.

Viet’s group then dug a hole on the coast. They lured six people to the site, telling them that a ship would come to carry them overseas at night. But when the victims showed up, Viet’s group murdered them all and threw their bodies into the hole. After stealing their gold and other belongings, Viet’s group shared the loots among one another, before escaping.

The police later found abnormal signs on the beach, so they dug the ground up and found the body. The murders shook up the community at the time. Over an investigation, the police managed to catch three people, but Viet and another person was nowhere to be found.

Among the three who were caught, two received the death sentence while the other was sentenced for life. Viet’s other accomplice was later found by the police and killed during a confrontation.

The police found that Viet frequented three places: two in HCMC and one in Lam Dong in the Central Highlands. But he did not live in any of these locations, instead posing as a wanderer who lived near riverine areas.

Viet has been secretly returning to his hometown in Ca Mau to see his family, so the police forces of Quang Ngai and Ca Mau have cooperated to capture him.

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