A superstitious suspected arsonist in Oddar Meanchey province’s Anlong Veng district was arrested on Thursday night after allegedly burning down four unoccupied houses out of fear that ghosts would come to inhabit them, police said yesterday.
District police chief Houth Sari said yesterday that the suspect, 15, was believed to have mental health issues, and had been released from police custody.
“The village security officials arrested him when he was burning the fourth house and sent him to the commune police officials for questioning,” Sari said. “He said he burned the houses down because ghosts would come to live in them.”
Vong Chan, Anlong Veng commune police chief, said yesterday that the boy’s mother had assured police officials that she would not allow her son to burn any more houses, and had agreed to compensate the homeowners.
“The owners of three houses left to work in Thailand, and the other house belongs to a military police official . . . who just built it and was preparing to come to live in it,” Chan said.
“The first house he burned on January 28, and the other three houses he burned on the 29 at night,” he added.
“The boy’s mother said that she will bring her son for treatment with an organisation because she is worried her son will do the same thing again.”
Authorities shared her concern, Chan said, and security guards have been distributed around the village to prevent any further conflagrations.