Phnom Penh’s head police inspector ordered an investigation yesterday into a suspected murder-suicide involving a well-connected police official – an assistant to the capital’s top cop, and the nephew of Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak – and his wife on Sunday.
Investigators said they believe Khieu Konel, 33, shot and killed his wife, Yeng Leakhena, 40, before turning the gun on himself at their home in Meanchey district’s Boeung Tompun commune.
Song Ly, deputy commissioner of the Phnom Penh Municipal Police, said that authorities believe the motive was marital strife, but are investigating whether other motives may have been at play.
“We have not been able to come to a clear conclusion,” Ly said. “We are launching a deeper investigation. We will try our best to figure it out.”
Konel, who was the assistant to Phnom Penh Police Commissioner Choun Sovann, is the son of Khieu Kola, a veteran journalist, and the nephew of General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior. Konel’s sister, Khieu Sansana, is a popular TV presenter at CTN and MYTV.
Family members of Khieu and Leakhena held separate funerals yesterday. Many expressed shock about the deaths but declined to speak further.
The couple often posted loving photos and messages about each other on their social media profiles and appear to have been married just three months.
Kola, Konel’s father, declined to comment beyond saying that his family was suffering badly.
“I lost my only son and one of [the government’s] top officials,” he said.
Sopheak, the ministry spokesman, said that he was saddened by his nephew’s death and confirmed that police were investigating. Sopheak will preside over the cremation of Khieu’s body at Wat Srah Chak on Wednesday.
Meanchey District Police Chief Teng Sino and National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith declined to give further details.
Ly said police had yet to locate any witnesses, but a man who identified himself as Leakhena’s younger brother said his aunt was in the couple’s home at the time of the shooting, and overheard the couple arguing briefly before she heard shots ring out.
In a statement, Konel’s sister asked reporters to let police investigate before jumping to conclusions. “I love him so much,” Khieu Sansana wrote. “And I don’t know how [I will] cope with this. RIP my dearest brother.”