They believed the motive was robbery as the one-baht-weight gold necklace she was seen wearing was not on the body.
The victim was identified only as Lucy, 50, of Myanmar nationality and Nepali race. She died of a stab wound to the stomach.
Lt Col Sirichai Kerdsri, a deputy police chief of Bophut Police Station, said an initial investigation found Lucy had come to live on the resort island 15 years ago after she broke up with her foreign boyfriend. She had since worked as a masseuse on the beach.
Camera footage showed Lucy was last seen strolling on Lamai Beach at 10pm on Saturday (July 1), he said.
Police said a Myanmar man named Ao, who worked for a jet-ski renter on the beach, was a suspect.
Ao reportedly left the island and might have returned to Myanmar through Mae Sot, Tak province.
The Samui police already alerted border police about the suspect.
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