The man who walked away and never returned

Jim Thompson buying silk in Thailand. He was a man of wealth and intrigue, but no one knows what happened to him.

One of the many rumors that surfaced after his disappearance was that some of his CIA connections had kidnapped him and forced him into hiding.

Guests at Jim Thompson’s dinner table in Bangkok at times included Ethel Merman, Adlai Stevenson—or even better, Somerset Maugham. The dinner table was situated in a beautiful Thai-style mansion. The diners were surrounded by an extensive art collection of the highest quality—at which to ooh and ahh.

Jim was an interesting man, with a pet cockatoo—it sat on his shoulder at times. His fascinating early career was that of an intelligence officer in the Strategic Services of America’s wartime. He loved the Orient, and even though he was no longer in intelligence, he loved the idea of tantalizing friends with the possibility that he still might be. He often played it to the hilt.

In March of 1967, he was at the Malaysian resort of Cameron Highlands. He and several of his friends had met there and they had just consumed an ample Easter picnic lunch. The food and the tropical climate had made them a wee bit drowsy, so they went to their cottages for afternoon naps.

Jim did not go to his room, and the friends assumed he was napping on the lawn. Then, at three p.m., some of the napping people awakened in their rooms and heard footsteps on the gravel drive outside. Without bothering to look, they assumed it was Jim, starting off on a short walk. They never saw their friend Jim Thompson, again.

When he didn’t return in a reasonable amount of time, a search began. First it was noticed that he did not take his cigarettes or pain pills he needed for gallstones with him.   All agreed that he would not have gone far without taking those items along.

More people got involved in the search including soldiers, tourists, residents and even psychics. Canines were brought to the scene. The searchers were quick to notice there were no buzzards circling anywhere. Vultures were always quick to circle in the event of a tiger attack, a fall into a ravine, or entrapment in one of many animal traps in or near the jungle.

A well-experienced local searcher who knew the jungle people well, was able to converse with them, and he felt that Jim was no where in the area, and no one was behaving in a suspicious manner.

Where was the man known as the Thai-silk King? Thompson had made a fortune after the war by tapping into the silk-weaving trade and exporting its finest products. He was so successful that sometimes people referred to him as The Silk King.

One of the many rumors that surfaced after his disappearance was that some of his CIA connections had kidnapped him and forced him into hiding. No ransom demands were ever made by anyone, either.

Other friends felt that his innocent love of intrigue had caused the wrong people to think that he was actually an active spy—a spy that needed to be neutralized.

Sara Marie Hogg is the author of Curious Indeed, a collection of true stories about the unknown and unexplained. Please click HERE to find the book on Amazon.

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