After being unreported by the media months ago and mysteriously going viral last week, police have reopened an investigation into the death of Belgian woman Elise Dallemagne, 30, whose body was found on Koh Tao on April 27.
The death had been ruled a suicide, with police claiming the woman was found with a rope around her neck. Other reports, however, said that her body was found wrapped in t-shirts and half-eaten by lizards with a gas can nearby. Police are now investigating to whether she did indeed end her life or something more sinister happened to her.
According to Koh Tao police chief Pol. Lt. Col. Chokchai Sutthimek, the deceased’s mother, Michele van Egten, said her daughter had tried to end her life in the past but the mother also staunchly believed that her daughter did not kill herself on Koh Tao, reported Bangkok Post.
Now, an unnamed source from Bangkok’s Crime Suppression Division (CSD) claimed that the Belgian woman tried to kill herself a few weeks before her death, on April 4, at Bangkok’s Nopphawong railway station, on Old Town, where she allegedly attempted to jump in front of the train but was saved by witnesses in the area.
Supposedly, she was rescued from death by railway police and good samaritans and sent to Somdet Chaopraya Institute of Psychiatry for a checkup before she resurfaced in Koh Tao.
An investigator on the case, Pol. Col. Phumin Poompanmuang, is attempting to find the record of that incident and the hospital’s report about her mental health. He is expecting to have some answers later today.
Another lead police are following is Dallemagne’s connection to religious sect Sathya Sai Baba. The sect is made up of followers of a now-deceased popular Indian guru that believe he was a reincarnation of God.
Sai Baba has a large, worldwide following and worship centers in 26 countries.
Police have spoken to Raaman Andreas, the German leader of the Sathya Sai Baba ashram on nearby Koh Phangan, where Dallemagne supposedly spent a lot of time.
Though he confirmed that he knew her and she had spent time there, he said that on her most recent visit in mid-April he was occupied and they didn’t talk much, he told The Mirror.
The organization’s official country headquarters in Bangkok, the Satya Sai International Organization (Thailand), said that it had no known links with Dellamagne, reported The Nation.
Police are also trying to trace exactly where the woman was in the days leading up to the discovery of her body. She may have tried to kill herself at a Bangkok rail station, and then visited Koh Phagnan to say goodbye to her sect members before traveling back to Belgium, something she told her mother she planned to do when they last spoke on April 17.
It’s been reported that she boarded a ferry bound for the mainland, in Chumphon province, on April 17, and it is unknown why she disembarked in Koh Tao. Her mother and Andreas believed she was making her way to Bangkok to catch a flight home.
However, she got off the boat in Koh Tao and it’s been reported that her three large bags were left behind on the ferry and arrived at the mainland without their owner.
Pol. Maj. Gen. Suthin Sapphuang ordered police in the port town to interview ferry staff and passengers to learn what they may have seen of the woman and her luggage.
It is also known that, after she disembarked at Koh Tao, she checked into the Triple B Hotel bungalows at Mae Haad beach on April 19, renting the cheapest room at THB400 per night.
When she signed the guest register, she attempted to use a false last name, originally writing her true surname but scribbling over it and writing “Dupuis” instead. Staff at the bungalows said she would not provide her passport number. Shortly after she checked in, a fire broke out in her room and spread to three nearby rooms, she fled the hotel and her body was found in the jungle a week later, just 2.5 kilometers away in the jungle above Tanote Bay, reported Bangkok Post.
The case is drawing much attention since the woman is the sixth tourist to die on Koh Tao under suspicious circumstances in the last three years. The best-known of these cases being the 2014 double murder of British backpackers Hannah Witheridge and David Miller. The island has been dubbed “death island.”