A Dutch national employed by the U.N. was found murdered in her rented home in Phnom Penh’s Chamkar Mon district Monday morning. Her 19-month-old daughter was injured in the attack and remained hospitalized in serious condition as of Monday evening.
Police arrived at the Tonle Bassac commune home of Daphna Beerdsen and her husband, Joris Oele, shortly after 9 a.m. yesterday, after the family’s nanny discovered the bloodied bodies and notified authorities.
No suspects have been identified and police are still searching for a motive, as there was no evidence of a robbery.
“The victim, Daphna Beerdsen, aged 31, was stabbed six times with a sharp metal weapon,” said Mom Sitha, Phnom Penh municipal foreign police chief.
Mr. Sitha said fluid samples had been taken from Daphna Beerdsen’s body to establish if she was raped, and that municipal, district and commune police were cooperating on the case.
Police said there were no signs of forced entry at the family’s home, which lies in an alleyway off Norodom Boulevard and has razor wire and broken glass-topped fences.
The nanny, Srey Mom, told police the doors were locked as usual when she arrived to look after the 19-month-old yesterday morning.
Municipal police chief Chuon Sovann, who was present at the crime scene, declined to comment on the case.
Mr. Oele, who is employed by U.N. Habitat, had left Phnom Penh Sunday afternoon to coordinate a two-day workshop on climate change in Sihanoukville, according to Sok Vanna, U.N. Habitat’s program manager.
“Just this morning, we got the phone call that Joris had to return to Phnom Penh quickly, so I took him to get the taxi,” Mr. Vanna said.
“Now I am hearing the news.”
Mr. Vanna said that Daphna Beerdsen also worked for the U.N., but did not know in what capacity. Her profile on the social networking website LinkedIn says that she worked as a consultant to the U.N. in Phnom Penh.
Just after 1 p.m. yesterday, Mr. Oele returned to his home and was ushered by a representative of the British Embassy. The representative of the British Embassy, which provides consular assistance to Dutch nationals, declined to comment or be identified.
After about 50 minutes inside the home with police, Mr. Oele emerged and was escorted to a car and then driven to Kantha Bopha Hospital, where his infant daughter was being treated.
One doctor at the hospital, who declined to be named, confirmed that the child was alive at the hospital at 6:30 p.m.
He declined to comment on the severity or nature of the injuries, but said that Mr. Oele was trying to have his daughter airlifted to Bangkok.
Ou Pov, Tonle Bassac commune police chief, would only say last night that Daphna Beerdsen’s body had been removed from the home.
“With the agreement of the husband and a representative of the U.K. Embassy, the dead body was removed to the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital at 5:30 p.m.,” he said.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak referred all questions about the case to National Police spokesman Kirth Chanthirith, who could not be reached for comment.