A man suspected of murdering his pregnant wife and two stepsons with a machete was arrested on Thursday in Oddar Meanchey province near the Thai border, ending a four-day manhunt.
Chraing Phou, 47, was captured at 5:10pm in Samraong district, across the country from the scene of the murders in Tbong Khmum province, according to James McCabe of the NGO Child Protection Unit.
“It was an intense manhunt across three provinces over the past four days, nonstop,” McCabe said. “Police were working 24/7 on it.”
Phou was located at a relative’s home in Bansay Reak commune near the border, which was surrounded by a contingent of police from Tbong Khmum, Oddar Meanchey, the CPU and the Ministry of Interior.
“About 30 officers surrounded the location, which backed onto a forest, so we had to ensure he wasn’t going to run into the forest,” McCabe said.
Phou’s wife, Khean Sok Lean, 43, was two months pregnant when she was found dead on Sunday morning along with her two sons, Thoeun Vannak, 17, and Thoeun Theary, 11. Police said the boys’ throats were slit in their sleep with a long-bladed machete.
McCabe said Phou would be sent to court in Tbong Khmum, where he would likely face three counts of aggravated murder, which carries a prison sentence of between 30 years and life in prison.
“Without anticipating the court’s decision, there’s sufficient evidence as to the cruelty and horrendousness of the crime that would warrant a substantial sentence,” McCabe said.
Sok Lean’s brother-in-law, Chheng Chanrith, said Phou deserved the death penalty, which Cambodia does not have.
“The baby in the womb of my sister is his, but he killed her,” he said. “So he is not a human being. He’s a demon.”
Sok Lean’s sister, Khean Nim, said she believed the spirits of her sister and nephews had aided the police in their search.
“I am very thankful to the authorities that arrested that cruel man,” Nim said, speaking on the day of her sister’s funeral ceremony. “I hope they sentence him to life in prison.”
Sam Samol, police chief in Phou’s home district of Romeas Hek in Svay Rieng province, told The Post police had tracked the suspect’s phone.
Samol added that Phou had reached out to his son the day after the murders, claiming he had “divorced” his wife, and that he wouldn’t be home for Khmer New Year as he planned to find work in Thailand.