SURAT THANI — A senior police officer has insisted that the 23-year-old British tourist who died on the southern island of Koh Tao this week was not murdered.
He was responding to early comparisons that were drawn to the two British backpackers, David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, who murdered on the island last year.
On Wednesday, Christina Annesley was found dead on in her bungalow on Haat Sai Ri Beach, the same beach that the battered bodies of Miller and Witheridge were found on in September 2014.
Annesley’s body was found by staff at the resort where she was staying, said Pol.Lt.Col. Chokechai Sutthimek, superintendent of Koh Tao Police Station. A cleaning worker went to check her room after she failed to show up at the reception desk on the day she was scheduled to check out, Pol.Lt.Col. Chokechai said.
"At this moment, we do not know the cause of her death. We did not find any assault on her body or signs of rummaging in her room. None of her belongings appear to be missing," said the officer from Koh Tao Police Station, which was established last year to provide more security on the island following the murders of Miller and Witheridge.
"We only found medicine in the room," said Pol.Lt.Col. Chokechai. "We are working to find out what kind of medicine it is."
Pol.Lt.Col. Chokechai stressed that Annesley's death does not appear to be a case of murder. Police will brief the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Bangkok, Thai public, and "social media" as soon as they have further details about the death, he said.
Pol.Lt.Col. Chokechai added that the British tourist's body is being kept at a temple on Koh Tao island while authorities wait for a ferry to Surat Thani Hospital on the mainland for an autopsy.
According to British media, a Foreign Office spokesperson confirmed the death of a British national in Thailand.
"We are providing consular assistance to the family at this difficult time," the spokesperson was quoted as saying.
The Telegraph reported that Annesley's mother posted on Facebook that her daughter died of "natural causes."
The grisly murder of Miller and Witheridge made headlines around the globe last year and damaged Koh Tao's reputation as a popular diving destination for foreigners.
Two 21-year-old Burmese immigrants were arrested on the island in October for allegedly murdering Miller and raping and killing Witheridge. The suspects initially confessed at a police press conference, but later retracted their confessions, which they said Thai police tortured them into making.
The twist of the events led many observers to accuse Thai police of using the two Burmese men as “scapegoats.” Police have repeatedly denied the allegation.
The two Burmese suspects are currently held in prison. Their court trial is set to start in September.