An archipelago paradise, the island of Koh Tao draws tourists from near and far.
But behind the beauty lies a macabre secret where backpackers bodies are found bludgeoned to death in blood stained waters.
The latest in a string of deaths on the Thai haven that has been dubbed the ‘murder island’, Elise Dallemange, 30, was found dead reportedly having been half-eaten by lizards, eight days after she said she was leaving to return to her native home in Belgium.
The ‘Death Island’ mystery deepens after Thai police have said they are re-opening an investigation into her death following concerns that were raised over their initial conclusion of suicide.
Posts on social media this week said Elise had booked a ticket to Chumphon province, on the mainland, and that her luggage arrived after her death, implying that she had not intended to kill herself.
There have also been reports that Elise fled from an unexplained fire that she may have caused. Nobody knows why she was on Koh Tao.
With so many questions surrounding the Belgian tourist’s death, we ask what happened that fateful day Elise was struck by tragedy.
When was Elise found dead?
On April 28, Elise was found dead on a rock in the jungle above Tanote Bay on the island of Koh Tao.
Local news reports that she was found partially eaten by lizards and was wrapped in T-shirts.
According to Elise’s mother, Michele van Egten, her body was taken to Surat Thani by the Koh Tao rescue team.
But this is denied by Steven Drylie from the team who told the Samui Times the backpacker had died in Koh Phangan, although he did admit that she had visited Koh Tao.
Koh Phangan is a neighbouring island famous for its Full Moon parties. Elise had been living on the island before she arrived on Koh Tao.
She is the seventh tourist to be found dead on the Thai island in the last three years.
Why was Elise on the ‘murder island’ and how long was she there for?
Elise had been travelling for over 18 months. She had visited India, Australia and New Zealand but regularly returned to Thailand.
She was said to have spent more than a year on Koh Phangan during her travels and was there part of a Yoga/Tantra-Community sect.
She was also an active member of SACRED, an Indian sect run by the notorious Sathya Sai Baba cult movement.
They reside and practice on Koh Phangan between Thong Sala and Hin Kong Village.
According to Elise’s mum, she lived there for three months with Guru Raaman Andreas from Germany and female friends Nuri and Raani.
She arrived on the island of Koh Tao on April 19th. Nobody knows why she visited the island.
What caused mystery fire which led to her fleeing into jungle?
On April 17 Elise spoke to her mum via Skype, telling her that she was going to return home.
She told her mum she had booked a ferry to Bangkok and the route was scheduled Koh Phangan (where she was living) via Koh Tao to the harbour of Chumphon.
On April 19th Elise departed the ferry in the early afternoon at Koh Tao – leaving her luggage on board which turned up in Chumpon.
She is said to only have taken a phone and a rucksack.
Elise checked into the Triple B Bungalows in Mae Head, a port area in Koh Tao, for the night.
During the night, three of the bungalows – including the one she was staying in – caught fire.
It appears that she then walked 2.5 kilometres to Tanote Bay through the jungle after reportedly fleeing the scene.
The owner of the bungalows said that the fire was caused by an electrical fault and had nothing to do with Elise.
But Michele, according to the Samui Times, said the man was described as being angry because of her “possible involvement”.
The island police commander said cops assumed that the fire was due to a candle or a lamp in her room but they did not gather evidence after the resort owner said he had no intention to lodge a complaint.
Elise was seen again at Poseidon Resort in Tanote Bay and booked another ticket to Bangkok which was scheduled for the 24th.
After that she disappeared without a trace.
Her body was found April 28 up on the rocks at Tanote Bay, behind the Tanote Family Bay Resort towards the jungle.
What do Thai police say?
Police have put the death down to suicide.
They said Elise had hanged herself on a tree.
An autopsy was performed in Surat Thani Hospital and later by the Institute of Forensic Medicine Police Hospital in Bangkok.
Elise was identified by her teeth and x-ray pictures provided by her mum.
She is still waiting for the final autopsy, and has not been contacted by Thai police since Elise’s cremation ceremony.
The cremation ceremony took place in Bangkok 14 days after her remains were found.
Her ashes were taken home to Belgium
Although Elise died in April, authorities only revealed her death on Thursday, after it was reported in Europe.
Today, police have confirmed that they will be re-investigating her death.
Police Colonel Preecha Kladsawad, deputy of Surat Thani police, said: “Police continue to look for new evidence, because it was an unnatural death, but we have not found any.”
What was the cult and who was she living with?
Elise was part of the sect of the Sathya Sai Baba cult movement, and lived with a self-proclaimed ‘guru’ on the island of Koh Phangan.
Members of the bizarre cult believe the leader of the same name, who died in 2011, was an ‘avatar’ of God.
The so-called ‘divinity in human form’ has 1,200 worship centres set up across 126 countries which offer ‘spiritual advancement’
They are all dedicated to his controversial practices.
His devotees believe their leader conducted various ‘miraculous healings’ during his lifetime using his renowned holy ash, including resurrections and clairvoyance.
But Sathya Sai Baba, who was one of India’s biggest spiritual leaders when he was alive, came under criticism for allegedly using tricks to fool his followers.
The self-proclaimed ‘God-man’ also faced accusations over the years of sexual abuse of young males and fraud, which he rejected as smear campaigns.
There are schools in Thailand set up to carry on his teachings, with a large number of worshippers living in the country.
Elise lived with Guru Raaman Andreas from Germany and two female friends Nuri and Raani.
Michele claims Andreas has now left the island of Koh Phangan.
What does her mum believe happened to her?
Michele seriously doubts the police version of the death of her daughter and seeks for help publicly.
Michele has said the the death would have gone unnoticed if not for her public appeal for help.
She said: “I do not believe what the police have told us. We fear somebody else was involved.
“We’re more and more thinking that the police information is not the right explanation.”
The mother told Der Farang magazine that she had been promised an autopsy report – but has still not been delivered.
She claims Elise was acting normally during their last conversation and no signs of depression were visible.
She also wonders why she booked a transfer to Bangkok and then went into the jungle to kill herself.
“Too many things show us that someone is involved,” the heartbroken mum said.
“Police told us that Elise hanged herself up in the jungle. I cannot accept why my daughter would have killed herself.”
Michele claims that Elise used a fake name of “Elise Dubuis” to check into the Triple B Bungalows next to Mae Head Pier on Koh Tao as she travelled via the island on a ferry bound for Chumphon province.
Michele said she had never been shown pictures of her daughter hanging from the tree where police claim she was found – normal practice for officers and rescue workers to photograph the scene.
She is now working with a German investigator to trace locals who discovered Elise’s corpse to confirm where she was hanging. – Mirror
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