After three days of investigation, police from the Kampong Cham provincial serious crime bureau have detained a suspect for questioning over the beheading of a six-year-old girl and her grandmother at Thma Poun village in Prey Chhor district’s Thma Poun commune.
On Wednesday afternoon, Pou Oun, 65, and her six-year-old granddaughter, both from Thma Poun commune’s Thma Poun village, were found beheaded in a forest about 350m south of their home.
Deputy provincial police chief in charge of serious crimes Heng Vuthy identified the suspect as a 55-year-old from Thma Poun commune’s Trapaing Boeung village.
He said the suspect shared a plantation boundary with the victims’ family.
The Post is withholding the suspect’s name as he has not been charged for the crime.
“What he said during preliminary questioning was consistent with the evidence we have collected. But we need to do more investigation because he denied killing the victims. So far we have not found the two victims’ heads,” he said.
Thma Poun commune police chief Lim Long told The Post on Sunday that police found the headless bodies along with a bloody handwoven scarf in between the suspect’s banana plantation and the victim’s cashew farm.
Working in conjunction with the NGO Child Protection Unit, police determined on the same day of the discovery that the scarf found at the crime scene belonged to the suspect.
“On the afternoon of the same day, the suspect, his wife and children acknowledged the blood-stained scarf was theirs. While the suspect has denied killing the pair, he is strongly suspected of committing this crime,” Long said.
He said over the last three days, police, village security guards and the victims’ family had been searching for the missing heads at various places including local banana and bamboo plantations, ponds and wells, but to no avail.
Suon Vich, 34, who is Savoeun’s father, urged the authorities to bring the perpetrator to justice.
“Until now, I don’t know whether or not [the suspect] was the murderer of my mother-in-law and my daughter because he denied killing them,” he said.
Citing the suspect’s accounts extracted during questioning, Vich said there could have been two suspects in the case.
The suspect told police that another man known as Hong had borrowed the scarf from him (the suspect) to take a bath at the plantation on Tuesday night.
Hong, who the suspect said had been hired to look after a nearby plantation, was arrested in a separate drug case on Saturday.
Doeung Thorn, 35 – who is Oun’s daughter and the girl’s aunt – told The Post on Thursday 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.
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.
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 on Wednesday.