IRVINGTON, Ala. (WALA) - Buddhists in southern Mobile County are still reeling from the murder of their head monk Friday. The man accused of the crime is also a monk.
"It's not my temple. This temple belongs to everyone," said Chaiwat Moleechate in 2008 following a fire at the temple in Irvington.
Moleechate was the head monk at the temple for 12 years.
He came to act as spiritual leader to area Buddhist and to the share the teachings of his faith on the Gulf Coast. According to Temple President Visanou Kamphouy, he also helped to bring the monk who is accused of murdering him to the US from Laos five years ago.
Veun Phidsamay moved to the US to teach and Moleechate was instrumental in his journey.
"He's the one to help him out, get paperwork, and go to immigration and have this temple be the sponsor," Kamphouy said.
He said Veun Phidsamay, 32, started acting strange a few months ago and was placed under a doctor's care. But he said no one was prepared for what happened Friday.
Police arrested Phidsamay after Moleechate was found beaten to death in the temple kitchen. Kamphouy said a large wooden stick used for food preparation was the murder weapon.
"I don't think he tried to kill him, to be real bad, but some how it happened, whatever he could grab at the time," Kamphouy said.
Meanwhile, Bhuddist worshippers mourn the lost of their spiritual leader. Kamphouy said plans for a traditional funeral may take weeks.
"The head monk is going to come from Miami tonight, set up the date, and after that we will relate to the family in Thailand, and see what is available, if we're gonna do funeral here, or they want to take body back to Thailand, we don't know yet," he said.
The temple president said visitors will be welcomed at the temple over the next three days to pay their respects to the temple and the slain spiritual leader.
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