A dead man who had been tied, gagged and hit on the head was found floating near the bank of the Mekong river in Muang district of this northeastern border province on Sunday.
Police were later told the dead man was Thai and had been taken captive in Laos and held for ransom.
Pol Capt Jularat Atpirom, deputy chief investigator of Muang disitrict, said the swollen corpse was found by villagers near the riverbank at Khok Kai Sao in tambon Tha Kho, and pulled ashore.
Police, rescuers and a doctor from Nakhon Phanom Hospital were sent to the scene.
The dead man was 25-35 years of age, wearing a white short-sleeved shirt and black trousers.
His hands were tied behind his back with rope and his legs also tied together. His mouth was gagged with a piece of cloth and he had been hit on the head with a hard object.
There were tattoos all over his body.
He said the body was swollen and decomposing. The man had probably died at least five days previously, murdered and dumped in the river.
The body was sent to Srinagarind Hospital in Khon Kaen province for an autopsy.
On Monday, a 65-year-old woman came to see Pol Capt Jularat and presented documents to identify the body as that of Kingpai Khattiyanond, 35, who was her adopted son from Lao Khao village in tambon Hin Kong of Suwan district, Roi Et province.
Boonlai Wong-amat said Kingpai left the village long ago after separating from a former wife. He resettled in Nong Bua Ngam village in Si Wilai district, Bung Kan province, and took up with a new woman, Wilai Harapan, 52.
On May 17, Kingpai told his wife that he would go across the border to Laos, and left his mobile phone with her.
A day later an unidentified man called that telephone and spoke to Ms Wilai. He told her to pay him one million baht for the release of Kingpai.
He said her husband was held hostage in Laos. Ms Wilai did respond to the ransom demand as she had no money.
Ms Boonlai said she arrived from Roi Et after being told about her adopted son being held for ransom, and filed a complaint with Si Wilai police in Bung Kan province.
On May 22, Kingpai’s body was found floating in the Mekong river in Muang district, Nakhon Phanom province.
Police were investigating.