Belgian woman 'covered ID' before death
published : 1 Jul 2017 at 20:26
writer: Supapong Chaolan
SURAT THANI: Belgian tourist Elise Dallemagne appeared to be trying to conceal her identity when she checked in at a resort on Koh Tao a week before she was found dead in April, a local bungalow employee told police on Saturday.
The worker, whose name was withheld, told police investigators on the tourist island that Dallemagne checked in at the Triple B Hotel on Mae Hat bay at about 3pm on April 19.
According to the employee, the 30-year-old Belgian arrived with a backpack and sought the cheapest room, at 400 baht per night.
First she wrote her real name and family name in the guest register but refused to write her passport number as other guests had done, saying she would give the number later. Then she scratched out her family name and replaced it with "Depis".
At about 7pm a fire broke out in room H2 where Dallemagne was staying and spread to three adjacent rooms. At that point she fled the hotel. She was found dead a week later, about 2.5 kilometres away.
Authorities have reopened the investigation into the woman's death at the request of her mother, who said she did not believe the conclusion of local police on Koh Tao that her daughter had hanged herself.
Dallemagne had a Skype call with her mother, Michele van Egten, shortly before she disappeared, and told her that she was preparing to return home after 18 months of travelling around Asia.
The head of an ashram on nearby Koh Phangan, where Dallemagne stayed frequently, gave a similar account.
"She visited us to prepare to go home. She told us she wanted to return back to Belgium so she could make some money in order to come back," Raaman Andreas told the Mirror newspaper in the UK.
Dallemagne had prepared for her departure by booking a trip to Bangkok via Chumphon, she told her mother on April 17. Ms van Egten said her daughter was clearly making plans, which made her very doubtful about the suicide claim.
Dallemagne had booked a ferry from Koh Phangan via Koh Tao to Chumphon. But on April 19, she departed the ferry at Koh Tao and left her luggage on board.
Visiting the hotel on Koh Tao on Saturday, Pol Maj Gen Chalit Thinthanee, deputy commissioner of the Provincial Police Region 8, said officers were looking into the luggage that had reached Chumphon.
Pol Maj Gen Chalit also said police were looking to interview Mr Andreas, who heads the Koh Phangan branch of the Sathya Sai Baba movement.
Dallemagne had been close to the German man and visited Thailand often to meet him. Investigators believe he could offer more information about her state of mind and movements, Pol Maj Gen Chalit said.
Mr Andreas told the Mirror that Dallemagne stayed at the ashram frequently but he was quite busy during her last visit and they did not interact much.
"But I do know she was actually happy after her Skype call with her parents to go home," he said. "Her behaviour was normal. She was definitely not sad."
The Sathya Sali Baba movement is named for an Indian spiritual leader who died in 2011. It has 1,200 worship centres in 126 countries offering "spiritual advancement". Some critics maintain that it is a cult.
Ms van Egten said she feared her daughter might have been taken in by a cult and that it might have some connection with her death.
Seven foreign tourists have died on Koh Tao over the past four years, some in strange or unexplained circumstances. The most notorious case involved the slayings of British tourists Hannah Witheridge and David Miller in 2014. Two labourers from Myanmar were convicted and sentenced to death -- the case remains under appeal -- after a widely criticised police investigation.