British teenager found dead in Thailand forest with ‘girlfriend’ missing
A British teenager was found dead in a forest in northern Thailand with head wounds, according to reports.
Woramet Ben Taota, 16, left home with a teenage girl, also 16, reported to be his girlfriend, on a motorcycle in the Thai city of Lampang on Saturday and was found dead in a grove on Sunday.
The teenager’s phone and money were missing from his bag, the Daily Mail reported, citing local media sources, leading police to suggest that he might have been robbed.
His companion, Yam, has not been found. She is described by the police as a “key figure” in the case as the last known person to see him alive.
Police said that they were not yet ruling out any motives.
Colonel Sittisak Singtongla, of the Mae Tha police, said: “We have not yet finalised the issue.
“It is still unclear whether it was a robbery, because the phone and cash of the deceased were not found, but we still cannot rule out other issues.”
A rubbish collector found Taota’s body with his back against a tree at about 10.15am on Sunday, with the teenager wearing a black longsleeved T-shirt and jeans.
Investigative teams from Mae Tha police attended the scene, along with forensics officers, forensic doctors and rescue workers.
Police believe that he may have been killed elsewhere and moved to the forest grove.
Friends have begun to post tributes on the Facebook profile page of Taota, who has a British father.
Police interviewed his mother, Ooy Taota. He left home on Saturday telling her that he was “going to work with friends” but did not return.
As well as robbery, among the motives being investigated by police are a love affair or a personal dispute of some kind.
Woramet’s grandmother Lilian Graham said she believed her grandson was lured into the forest where he was murdered. She added that Woramet’s father, Steve Graham, a UK businessman, is now on his way to Thailand to speak with detectives.
“Ben was with a girl and they went to the forest to meet a man. But something must have happened. And the man killed Ben,” Ms Graham told MailOnline.
She added: “It’s been a real shock. We are all devastated. Ben’s father Steve is going to Thailand tonight.”
“I wanted to go out there with him to support him. But he wouldn’t let me. He said the flight was too long and it would be too upsetting.”
The Foreign Office has been contacted for comment.