April 25, 2019

James Lewis Hamilton

Police are investigating the death of an elderly American couple in Chiang Mai. The two foreigners were found dead in a hotel with plastic bags around their heads hooked up to balloons filled with helium in what police believe to be a well-thought-out double-suicide.

Pol Lt Col Mana Sukjaroen, who leads the investigation, said he was notified of the incident at 12:20 on Thursday. The report came after a room maid at the Top North Hotel on Moon Muang Rd near Tha Phae Gate in Chiang Mai’s Phra Singh subdistrict discovered the bodies of James Lewis Hamilton, 75, and his 70-year-old wife Diane Adele De Simone.

Investigators interviewed the manager of the hotel, Pricha Maijandaeng. According to him, Mr Hamilton and Mrs De Simone, who had been staying in the hotel since April 13, were due to check-out on the day their bodies were found.

“Mr Pricha told us that he called the phone in room no. 3207 on the 2nd floor where the two were staying after they did not check-out at 12:00,” Pol Lt Col Mana said. “However, nobody picked up, so Mr Pricha asked a maid to go to their room.”

After the maid’s knocks on the door also remained unanswered, she reportedly attempted to gain access to the room by using a spare key. As she opened the door, she found a piece of paper attached to a hanger reading “DO NOT ENTER – CALL POLICE”. She then found the lifeless bodies of Mr Hamilton and Mrs De Simone on the bed inside the room.

An initial police report states that both foreigners had plastic bags wrapped around their heads which were connected by a thin hose to a balloon filled with gas from a tank in the room. The valve of the 40-litre-tank, which police say most likely contained helium, was fully opened and the content already empty, leading police to conclude that the couple had committed suicide and died of inert gas asphyxiation.

Forensic police briefly examined the bodies on the scene and said they were in full rigor mortis and therefore have been dead for at least 12 hours. They were dressed wearing white t-shirts and grey shorts. Both of them wore diapers, the police report stated. A note with contact information was also found in the room.

“All the preparations they have made make it look like a well-thought-out double-suicide,” Pol Lt Col Mana interpreted the scene. The maid said that the two guests were a jolly couple and gave no indication they were going to commit suicide. Three days before the incident, they had greeted her in a friendly manner and asked not to be disturbed, police revealed.

Mr Hamilton and his wife had been living in Thailand for over 15 years. After spending most of that time on Koh Samui in Surat Thani province, the couple moved to an elderly care facility in Chiang Mai in 2018. Mrs De Simone was an author and wrote several books, including the 2013 published book “Dear Thailand: A Love Story”.

Volunteers of the Ruam Jai Chiang Mai Rescue Foundation took the bodies of Mr Hamilton and Mrs De Simone to Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital where a post-mortem examination will be conducted. The American authorities in Chiang Mai have been informed, police confirmed.

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Case Details

Source Thairath
Date of Death: April 25, 2019
Last Edited: 3 months ago
Age: 75 years
Gender: Male
Nationality: American
Cause of Death: Suicide
Province: Chiang Mai
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