Police said on Sunday that they have identified one suspect in Tuesday’s brutal ax attack on a family in Sihanoukville that left five injured and two dead, though no arrests had yet been made.
Provincial deputy police chief Mam Kamal said police have identified a suspect, though he declined to give details because police are still investigating.
“We have identified some information about the suspect and are investigating further,” he said. “It is not clear yet and it is just suspicion.”
In the early hours of Tuesday, an attacker entered the home of fisherman Kong Phearum in Muoy commune while he was at sea and hacked his wife, mother-in-law and five children. His wife, Oum Phana, 31, and their 13-year-old daughter later died from their injuries.
While police had initially ruled out robbery as a possible motive, Mr. Kamal said on Sunday they believed it was a revenge case mixed with robbery, as part of Oum Phana’s gold necklace was missing.
Mr. Kamal said the suspect had recently arrived in Muoy commune. He added that some witnesses said the suspect had gotten into an argument with Oum Phana a few hours before the attack, and that the suspect had been eyeing her gold necklace.
“When we have enough testimonies from witnesses, we will request the prosecutor to proceed,” Mr. Kamal said.
Preah Sihanouk provincial police chief Chuon Narin confirmed that the case was motivated by revenge, though he declined to comment further.
“When it is finished, I will alert you,” he said.
Mr. Phearum said that on the evening before the attack, a man who worked at a construction site near their home approached his wife and her co-workers—who were on motorbikes on their way home from work at a shoe factory —to ask for a ride, and was declined.
He said neighbors also told him the man was later seen lurking around while villagers were dining together hours before the incident.
“I suspect him based on what witnesses said, that at midnight they saw him walking around the house, however I have no proof,” he said.
Mr. Phearum said his mother-in-law had returned to their home on Saturday, and the rest of his children were stable at Kantha Bopha hospital in Phnom Penh, though his 5-year-old son remained in serious condition.
“I want the authorities to find the perpetrator and punish according to the law,” Mr. Phearum said.
“We don’t know what to rely on now. It is very painful.”