Mother 'heard screams' of girl killed in Thailand

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The Independent Online

The mother of Katherine Horton, the 21-year-old student murdered on Koh Samui, was talking to her daughter on the telephone when her attackers approached, Thai police said yesterday. The conversation ended with the sound of a dog barking and a scream from her daughter. The line went dead.

Ms Horton, a psychology student from Thornhill in Cardiff, was wishing her mother Elizabeth a happy New Year from Lamai beach on the south Thai island when she was attacked.

An investigation is underway into her murder after an autopsy revealed she was struck over the head and across her body with a blunt instrument before being dragged into the sea.

Ruth Adams, 21, who was backpacking with her friend during their break from third-year studies at Reading University, told Thai police that she had spoken to Mrs Horton the day after her daughter's body had been found by a jet skier, still wearing a black dress from the night before. A mobile phone "almost certainly" belonging to Katherine was found on the beach near to where her body was found.

She had been out to a local restaurant with friends for dinner earlier in the evening and returned to her beach hut with Ms Adams, before going out to answer a phone call from her mother.

In a statement, Katherine's parents, Elizabeth and Ian and two older brothers, Richard and Christopher, said: "Katherine was much loved by all her family and friends. We will miss her warmth, vivacity and passion for life. This holiday meant so much to her and she was so excited about travelling to Thailand before returning to Reading University to complete her degree. Words cannot express the emptiness we feel at our loss. Our only comfort is the many happy memories we have of Katherine which we will always treasure."

A spokesman for South Wales Police said Katherine's father flew out to Thailand yesterday to meet British Embassy officials, where he will be met by his son Richard, travelling from his home in Australia.

A South Wales police officer accompanied him. He will not be involved in the murder investigation, but will support the family during their visit.

Ms Horton had flown out to Thailand on 27 December after celebrating Christmas with her family. The pair were due to fly home next Tuesday. A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said they expected the Thai police investigation into Katherine's death to take "up to three months".

The death comes nearly five-and-half years after the murder of Kirsty Jones in August 2000. The 23-year-old was strangled while staying at a guest house in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand.