'Murder Island' combed for German cult leader
The police are looking for a self-proclaimed guru as they search for possible leads to resolve the question of whether Elise Dallemange, a 30-year-old Belgian tourist, took her own life or was murdered. She was found dead on April 27.
Maj Gen Chalit Thinthanee said the tourist and immigration police are trying to locate Raaman Andreas, leader of the Sathya Sai Baba cult on neighbouring Koh Phangan. Police said they suspect Dallemange was a member of the Indian sect.
Maj Gen Chalit said the Belgian woman is believed to have met the German leader of the sect several times. "If we can find Mr Raaman we should be able to ascertain the cause of death," he said.
Koh Tao police initially ruled it a suicide but were ordered to reopen the case last week after it spread on social media and was picked up by the Samui Times, an online newspaper, and later shared by the CSI LA Facebook account.
Michele van Egten, the deceased's mother, told local media that her daughter had spent time in Koh Phangan, where she lived at a yoga and tantra retreat on the island made famous by its full-moon parties.
The police yesterday inspected a bungalow rented by Dallemange on Mae Haad and found she had refused to give her passport number to staff when she checked in at around 3pm on April 19.
The record also showed she was reluctant to use her real name when she signed in. She initially used her own surname but subsequently crossed it out and wrote "Depis" instead.
At around 7pm a fire was reported in her bungalow. The blaze reached some other rooms nearby. Afterwards, Dallemange disappeared.
According to Maj Gen Chalit, the police are also focusing on what happened to her luggage as they investigate the cause of her death.
Her mother told the local press that before Dallemange disappeared, she booked a ferry to Chumphon harbour en route to Bangkok.
It was scheduled to depart from Koh Phangan and pass via Koh Tao. Dallemange never arrived in Chumphon but her luggage did.
The Belgian was initially thought to have hung herself as she was found dead on a rock in the jungle above Tanote Bay, her body partially eaten by lizards. But her mother disputed this ruling.
Dallemange is the seventh tourist found dead on Koh Tao since 2014.
- Elise Dallemagne