PHUKET - The Patong police chief has called for a thorough investigation into the death of 27-year-old Canadian expat, Matthew Richardson, a well-respected Muay Thai fighter on this tourist island whose body was found in his rented home in Patong on Monday.
He was found by his girlfriend in the bathroom of his apartment on 50 Pi Road Wednesday morning with the strap of a black carry bag still around his neck, according to media reports.
His girlfriend told police she went to his home after being unable to contact Richardson all night. Finding the door locked, she summoned his landlord, Pol Col Tassanai Orarigadech told Khaosodenglish.com.
"I don't want to conclude that he committed suicide," the Phuket News quoted him as saying.
"We are afraid we will be compared to Koh Tao," he said, according to media reports.
"People may accuse us of covering up the death as a suicide, so we have to be sure about what happened."
Koh Tao, a mecca for scuba divers, earned the moniker "Death Island" from several media outlets earlier this year when the body of 30-year-old Belgian tourist Elise Dallemange was found hanging there. Initially ruled a suicide, the case has since been reopened.
She is the seventh foreigner to die on the tiny island in the western Gulf since 2014, with one more recorded as "missing".
Richardson's body has been sent to the forensic laboratory at Surat Thani Hospital to determine the cause of death, Pol Col Tassanai told Thai media.
He reportedly confirmed that bruises were found on the Toronto native's neck but said there was no sign of a struggle at his apartment.
"We've informed Canadian embassy officials of our investigation and they have notified his relatives," he told the Phuket News.
"At this stage I cannot reveal any more details about the case," he said.
By all accounts, Richardson was enjoying his fighting success and life on the resort island.
Last Tuesday, he posted the following message on his Facebook page: "I am honoured to be the new DBKL Kuda Merah Malaysian International Champion! Looking forward to defending my title later this year in Kuala Lumpur."
He listed his Muay Thai fight card as featuring 33 professional fights with 22 wins, including 16 knockouts.
Locally he won two EFL champion titles, two more titles at Bangla stadium at different weight classes, and reigned as the Patong stadium champ. He fought at 70kg, 72kg and 75kg.
As news of his death broke tributes began pouring in online.
"Matthew Richardson was a gentleman Canadian who lived and breathed Muay Thai, who chose to live and train in a foreign land whose culture and people he loved and deeply respected," wrote one, using the name "muayfanaticxxx".
He is not the first foreign Muay Thai fighter to die in the country this year.
Scotland's Jordan Donald died of suspected heatstroke in Korat at the end of March while trying to shed weight for an upcoming bout with a Cambodian fighter, Khaosodenglish reported.