Thailand wants tourists to come back, but a recent murder might make that a hard sell. A 27-year-old Thai man was charged Sunday in the death of a Swiss woman who was found dead near a waterfall in Phuket on Thursday. Nicole Sauvain-Weisskopf, 57, was found wearing only a shirt and jacket. Some authorities suspect she was raped, the Sun reports, but no autopsy has been released yet. Teerawat Thothip confessed to killing her after police tracked him using surveillance footage. He reportedly admitted to stealing a small amount of money from her backpack and further detailed his crime while speaking by telephone at a police press conference, the AP reports.
During the press conference he said he was in the woods looking for orchids to sell but failed to find any. As he exited the forest he said encountered Sauvain-Weisskopf, strangled her, and made off with $9 from her backpack. He said his motive was money, and that he had lost his job due to the pandemic. Thailand, which relies heavily on tourism, has been allowing vaccinated tourists to enter Phuket and not quarantine; they're just unable to visit the mainland until 14 days have passed, the BBC reports. Sauvain-Weisskopf had been in the country since July 13 as part of that so-called "Phuket Sandbox" program. "I would like to apologize to the tourist’s family and beg all Thais to excuse me," Thothip said, per the Sydney Morning Herald. (Read more Thailand stories.)