A SYPHILITIC farmer from Kampong Cham be-headed a five-year-old boy with a scythe
and drank his blood in an attempt to find a cure for his disease, according to local
villagers and eye-witnesses.
Mich Khan, 20, a farmer from Tbong Kmom district, Chup Commune in Kampong Cham, was
arrested by the people's militia Dec 4, two days after the murder of the child, Ly
Kim Heang. The following day he was handed over to local police, but during an escape
attempt he was shot in the thigh, and later handed over to provincial police. He
is now in jail awaiting trial, having confessed to the murder, according to police.
"We found him hiding in a rice paddy," said Lt. Col. Seng Sokim, Commissary
of Kampong Cham Province. "He confessed to murdering the child straight away."
Human rights workers said that the farmer had been suffering from syphilis for about
a year-and-a-half, according to testimony from local villagers. A neighbor had advised
Khan that drinking the blood of a child would cleanse him of the disease.
"He asked the child to go fishing with him," said a rights worker. "He
promised him 200 riel to go with him. When they got to the fishing place, Ly Kim
Heang [the child] knelt down, and Mich Khan beheaded him with a scythe."
Although local police deny that Khan actually drank the blood of the child, locals
are convinced that that is exactly what happened.
"They are 100 percent sure," said a rights worker, who visited the site
of the murder Dec 11.
Locals are using the lack of blood at the scene of the crime as evidence of Khan's
vampyric activities, but police maintain that the lack of blood was due to heavy
"We have heard about these rumors, but they are not true," said Sokim.
"I think these rumors happened because parents always warn children about vampires,
and because when he was wounded in the thigh, there was a lot of blood, which they
thought was the child's blood," he said.
But locals are not convinced.
"There was no blood in the body either," said the rights worker. "I
think it is probably true as well."
According to a police report, the man and the boy were last seen eating bananas in
a plantation not far from the scene of the crime, by two friends of the boy.
"Pen Chanta and Chi Chai Wan [the two friends] wondered why these two should
be together" said the report. The two followed Mich Khan and Ly Kim Heang, but
turned back before the crime took place.
Villagers told rights workers that Mich Khan was a loner in the village, and had
been abandoned by his family when quite young, due to anti-social behavior such as
stealing. They also mentioned that Khan had previously been taking 'sleng', a type
of poisonous berry, to cure his syphilis, on the advice of another neighbor.
The gruesome murder has horrified local residents, according to Sokim, who said that
as Khan was arrested, up to 50 villagers attacked the police car and demanded that
the suspect be released "so that they could kill him".
Khan's current state of health is unknown, as local rights workers have been denied
access to him.