NAKHON SRI THAMMARAT: Black magic pratictioner Nuad Tongbua, 57, was well-respected for his effectiveness in treating the supernatural ails of villagers at Baan Pa Yang Kluay, in Tambon Khao Phra. After 30 years of successfully plying the dark arts, he was more commonly known as “Ajarn Niow”. However, on October 8, after an early morning session treating four “patients” followed by a few beers, he dropped his guard and lost his head. Of the four patients, two believed they were possessed by evil spirits while the other two believed they were victims of black magic. After Ajarn Niow cured their ills, they all started drinking beer in his home. After finishing off the eighth bottle, Ajarn Niow leaped to his feet and ordered Ubonrat – a 21-year-old on whom Ajarn Niow had performed an exorcism – to get a sickle from behind the house. Ajarn Niow said he wanted to disperse some pesky invisible ghosts that were lingering about in front of his house. Ubonrat returned with the sickle and, without saying a word, ran up to Ajarn Niow and lopped off his head with a single swipe. While the other three patients sat in shock, staring at Ajarn Niow’s headless body lying on the mat, Ubonrat fled deep into the forest behind the village, dropping the sickle on the street as he ran. Pol Lt Col Chaovalit Nara-aj, Superintendent of Pipoon Police Station, said that Ubonrat might have been suffering from hallucinations. “I have to talk with his relatives and friends to find out if he had taken any drugs. It’s possible he will hurt others if he is still near the village,” Col Chaovalit said. Many villagers, however, had a different theory. Ajarn Niow, some said, was killed by ghosts hungry for revenge since he had exorcised so many out of people’s bodies.