Prey Chhor district police forces are investigating a “brutal” beheading of a six-year-old girl and her grandmother in Thma Poun commune’s Thma Poun village in Kampong Cham province on Wednesday.
Prey Chhor district police chief Keo Senghorn told The Post on Thursday that the girl and her grandmother, 65-year-old Pou Oun – both residents of the village – were found dead in a forest about 350m south of their home on Wednesday afternoon.
“The two victims were beheaded. It is a very shocking murder and the most brutal [we] have ever encountered since the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979,” he said, adding that provincial-level specialist police forces are currently aiding in the investigation to identify the murderer.
“Although authorities have not found the heads of the two victims and have not identified the murderer [as of Thursday afternoon], they have concluded that the perpetrator of this very brutal murder may have known the victims well and may have resided in the same village.”
Doeung Thorn, 35 – who is Oun’s daughter and the girl’s aunt – told The Post that on Wednesday morning she was on her way to the victims’ house to bring them food. However, upon arrival the door was locked, so she asked some of their neighbours of their whereabouts, but none knew.
“I walked around the house and my mother’s cashew plantation looking for her and my niece. But I could not find them,” Thorn said.
She added that after failing to locate them, she called her siblings and relatives in other villages, none of whom knew the whereabouts of her mother and niece.
She then filed a complaint to local police to launch a search.
On Wednesday at noon, her cousin – 45-year-old Muong Srey – together with Thma Poun commune police found the bodies of Oun and the girl near a bamboo forest 250m away from Oun’s cashew plantation.
“I was so shocked that my heart almost stopped beating at the scene when I saw my aunt and niece beheaded in the forest,” Srey said in tears.
She added that relatives and authorities had searched for the two victims’ heads in the forest but could not find them.
A mother devastated
The girl’s mother – 24-year-old Doeung Chantha – returned to the village with her husband from their jobs as construction workers in Kampot province upon hearing the news. She said her mother and daughter had earlier phoned to ask how she was.
Chantha said Oun had asked her when she would come back home during the upcoming Khmer New Year.
“Your daughter and I miss you so much!” Chantha quoted Oun as saying, adding that she told her mother that she and her husband would be allowed to go on holiday from April 10.
“My daughter told me to buy her a bicycle and I promised her that I would buy her that bicycle when I returned home during Khmer New Year,” she said, expressing her devastation at receiving the news of her mother and daughter’s deaths.
Chantha and her husband took leave before the company’s scheduled holidays to attend the funeral of her mother and daughter.
She appealed to authorities to search for and punish her mother and daughter’s murderer.
Thma Poun commune police chief Lim Long told The Post that Oun had never had an argument with any of her neighbours. Authorities are yet to determine the motive behind the crime.