Though Belgian woman Elise Dallemange, 30, was found dead on Koh Tao on April 27, her story has gone viral overnight in the international press and police on the island will re-open a case they had originally labeled a suicide.
The woman’s mother, Michele van Egten, does not believe that her daughter committed suicide by hanging, as the police claimed. Her mother has still not received an autopsy report or been contacted by Thai police since mid-May, when they held a cremation for the deceased woman in Bangkok, reported Bangkok Post.
In April, Dallemange’s death was not reported by any media. However, a jumbled story in Samui Times yesterday suggested the death was a murder and brought the world’s attention to the case, which was picked up by Viral Press, Unilad, The Mirror, and The Sun after being shared by the CSI LA Facebook page.
The police report for the case states that Dallemange was found on a rock in the Tanote Bay jungle, her body wrapped in t-shirts and partially eaten by monitor lizards.
Her mother said that her daughter was not distressed and had booked a ticket home after a few years of living and traveling in Asia.
Dallemange was living at a yoga resort on the neighboring island of Koh Phangan. She left her island home on April 17 with a ferry ticket to Chumphon province. It is thought that her plan was to make her way from the mainland to Bangkok and fly home. It is not known how or why she ended up on Koh Tao on April 19, but she allegedly checked into a beach bungalow in the island’s Mae Haad area. The bungalows burned down that day but she and other guests escaped the blaze.
Samui Times reported that her luggage made it to Chumphon without her and also that she later checked into another beach bungalow on another part of Koh Tao.
However, island police deny much of what was reported in Samui Times.
Koh Tao police chief Pol. Lt. Col. Chokchai Sutthimek said yesterday that the body was found on April 27 but was neither wrapped in t-shirts nor eaten by lizards. He claims that she had a rope around her neck and was hanging from a tree.
He also said that the autopsy performed at Bangkok’s Institute of Forensic Medicine called the cause of death suffocation and that her bags never arrived in Chumphon by ferry.
He did confirm that her bungalow burned down on April 19 and that she and other guests escaped the fire. He said that her whereabouts after that were unknown until her body was found in the jungle.
He surprisingly asserted to the Bangkok Post that “I informed her mother of the autopsy results and that she had committed suicide and her mother seemed to accept that. Her mother told me her daughter had attempted suicide once before. Her mother also said her daughter spent years in India and was an active member of an Indian sect. She suspects a link between the death of her daughter and this sect.”
Koh Tao gained international notoriety when British backpackers David Miller and Hannah Witheridge were savagely murdered on its beach in September 2014.
It has since been the site of at least six mysterious tourist deaths.