BANGKOK - Lee Aldhouse of Britain and American Dashawn Longfellow both had a passion for Muay Thai, the Thai martial art of kickboxing. But it was in a bar, not a fighting ring, where their lives intersected — with a deadly result.
The fateful encounter between foreigners on the Thai southern resort island of Phuket left Longfellow dead and Aldhouse, who authorities say killed him, apparently on the run.
Both men came to Thailand to learn Muay Thai and both drifted away from training. Friends and associates say they got drawn into the culture of drinking and bars that is inherent in the tourist-filled island of Phuket.
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Longfellow, the 23-year-old former U.S. marine who Aldhouse allegedly stabbed to death early Saturday morning, is a decorated war hero who had served with distinction in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
He told friends he was spending time in Phuket to rehabilitate from a shrapnel injury to his arm received in Afghanistan.
Aldhouse, 28, is from England and arrived in Phuket in 2006 to train at Rawai Muay Thai. He had a number of Muay Thai fights for the gym but was eventually asked to leave after allegedly assaulting his English girlfriend, according to the owner of the Rawai Muay Thai facility.
Longfellow arrived in Phuket earlier this year with the intention of spending a year training at Rawai Muay Thai. Just like Aldhouse he was asked to leave the gym although the circumstances were entirely amicable.
Diana Campillo, the owner of Rawai Muay Thai, remembers Longfellow specifically.
"Dashawn was actually here on a year visa. I remember writing the application letter for him on the understanding that he would train for a year but he came and met this girl and wanted to be with her and drink. He was staying at the camp but he was drinking almost every night and he wouldn’t really train," Campillo said.
"Eventually we had to say to him, ‘If you are not serious about training you should stay some place else, don’t stay at the camp.’ So we asked them to leave and Dashawn went and trained somewhere else,” she said.
Aldhouse’s departure from Rawai Muay Thai four years earlier had been much more acrimonious. Danny Avison was working for the camp at the time and made a video of Aldhouse fighting a much smaller Thai opponent, which can be seen at right.
Avison said the Englishman, whose nickname was "the Pitbull," was involved in a number of violent incidents.
“He came here with an English girl in 2006. He was massive ... and said he had been working as a bouncer in Spain. In his first fight for Rawai Muay Thai he knocked the guy down and then dived on him and tried to bite his ear off you can see it on YouTube. He assaulted the girl that he came with and our trainers were very angry about it and he had to leave the gym.”
Aldhouse fought in Phuket as recently as March 2009 defeating another Thai opponent and you can see the video here.
However, Aldhouse does not appear to have trained regularly or fought for over a year and there is some mystery as to how, with no obvious source of income, he was able to continue to afford to live in Thailand.
Aldhouse's first encounter with Longfellow occurred at the Freedom Bar, where the Marine's former girlfriend worked.
Longfellow told friends that he had seen enough violence in Iraq and Afghanistan and supposedly attempted to diffuse the situation when Aldhouse challenged him shouting, ‘You may be big but I am crazy,' witnesses said. Aldhouse allegedly punched Longfellow in the face in order to provoke him and a scuffle broke out which was quickly broken up.
While Longfellow and his girlfriend drove to their nearby home to tend to his wounds, Aldhouse went to a convenience story and stole a knife. According to media report, Aldhouse confronted Longfellow again outside his apartment and the Purple Heart recipient was fatally stabbed. His girlfriend tried to resuscitate him but he was dead before the ambulance arrived.
James Goyder is a freelance journalist and photographer from the U.K. who is based in Phuket, Thailand.