Tariq Ahmad Bhat
An American man and a Thai woman checked into a hotel in Chiang Mai on Sunday evening. The next morning, the 56-year-old man was dead, and the woman was gone. Police suspect murder.
A maid of an undisclosed hotel on Changklan Rd in Chiang Mai’s Chang Khlan subdistrict found the body of Tariq Ahmad Bhat when she entered the room to clean up. Mr Bhat, a 56-year-old American citizen, was lying with his face up dead on the bed in room no. 304. He was wearing a button down shirt and black boxer shorts.
After being notified, investigators and additional officers of Mueang Chiang Mai Provincial Police Station arrived at the hotel. Based on a brief medical examination conducted by a medical examiner from Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital on the scene, Mr Bhat had been dead for at least 12 hours before being found.
“We did not find any visible signs of violence on Mr Bhat’s body,” deputy inspector Pol Capt Mondritsa Bungam said. “Next to his bed was an empty cup of coffee. In his backpack, we found several personal documents, among them a driving license from Virginia issued to the deceased.”
Police initially believed Mr Bhat had died of a medical issue. However, when officers interviewed the staff of the hotel, the story took an unexpected turn.
According to a hotel worker, Mr Bhat checked in to the hotel at about 18:00 the previous day, Sunday, August 19, accompanied by a Thai woman. “The two paid for one night,” Pol Capt Mondritsa revealed. About one hour after they arrived, they ordered a cup of coffee, toast and jam which was sent upstairs to their room. The Thai woman answered the door and brought the meal inside.”
The following day – the pair was due to check out at noon but had not yet emerged from the room -, a maid entered the room to clean up and prepare it for the next guests. She then made the shocking discovery of Mr Bhat’s dead body on the bed, Pol Capt Mondritsa said.
To the maid’s surprise, the woman who had checked in with him the previous evening was nowhere to be seen. Hotel staff testified that they did not notice any Thai woman leaving the hotel between the check-in and the discovery of the body.
“Lots of Mr Bhat’s valuables were gone. We believe that the woman had stolen them. We only found a 50 baht bill and a Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus member card.” The card> is part of a customer loyalty program of the national airline that lets members earn miles when flying with Thai Airways or any other Star Alliance carrier.
After bagging all personal belongings and the coffee mug to check for fingerprints, investigators highly suspect that Mr Bhat has become a victim of crime. “All evidence points to Mr Bhat having been murdered,” Pol Capt Mondritsa said. “However, we must wait for the autopsy to confirm our theory officially.”
Local rescue workers brought the body to the pathology department at Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital. In the meantime, police are trying to locate the still unknown Thai woman to interrogate her about the events of that night as well as viewing CCTV recordings in and around the hotel.
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