Authorities have released the alleged last photo of a woman believed to be a Belgian backpacker who died at a Thai resort area in April.
Elise Dallemagne, 30, was found hanged on Koh Tao island on April 28, 2017, local reports say—police said that she killed herself.
A grainy security camera shot shows a woman’s back as she is walking down a path, approximately 200 meters from where the body was found, 9News.com.au reported.
Dallemagne’s mother, Michele van Egten, disputed claims made by local Thai authorities that she killed herself, saying she was instead murdered.
The woman in the image, she added, appears to be “too big” to be Elise. “That’s not Elise’s silhouette—she was much slimmer, that’s not the way she was walking,” she was quoted as saying.
In 2014, two British students were found murdered on the island. Overall, in the past seven years, seven foreigners have died under mysterious circumstances on Koh Tao island. There have been allegations that local police have covered up murders there, claiming they were suicides.
Local media outlets have called the vacation spot “Death Island” due to the rash of deaths under odd circumstances.
According to The Independent, citing local media, a hotel worker claimed Dallemagne checked into a hotel using a fake name—just days before she died. The paper, quoting the local Samui Times, reported that police never questioned locals on the island about her disappearance.
Lieutenant Colonel Chokchai Suthimek disputed the murder allegations. “There is no sign of murder,” he said.
“They call this ‘death island’ non-stop. They paint it that way. We work so hard. When there is a dead body we’re not just sitting on it,” he was quoted as saying.
The Bangkok Post, meanwhile, wrote an editorial on the case, titled “Respect is only earned,” noting that there are discrepancies in the official police account of her death.
“And it must be stated that those actions are questionable. For one thing, police claimed last week that Ms van Egten and others in the dead woman’s family had accepted their conclusions. Far from it, as it turned out. Police continue to claim Dallemagne hanged herself in the Koh Tao woods. Her mother doubts that, and cites many reasons,” it read.
It added: “Police have made their own job more difficult, not least with their farcical lawsuit against the Samui Times over the ‘Death Island’ tag. They must concentrate on their only job, which is to solve the death of Belgian visitor Dallemagne, and perform professionally in every other case.”