Father Fears Cover-Up in ‘Facebook Murder’

Ang Snuol district, Kandal province – As the last layer of cement covered Lim Sreypich’s tomb on Friday afternoon, her parents claimed that there has been a cover-up in the murder of their 19-year-old daughter, who was strangled to death on Tuesday by people she reportedly met on Facebook.

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Floral tributes and a portrait of Lim Sreypich, 19, at her funeral in Kandal province on Friday. (Siv Channa)

At Lim Sreypich’s funeral, her father, Lim Iengsor, said he was stunned only one person was now being questioned by police even though four people were originally arrested and thought to be linked to the kidnapping and killing.

“I think there are high-ranking, powerful people behind this killing,” Mr. Iengsor said.

Mr. Iengsor said he suspected a cover-up of the 24-year-old woman arrested for the murders, while three other suspects were freed without explanation on Friday. “They had a plan to prepare the [one] suspect and to find her guilty,” he said.

Lim Sreypich’s parents said they believed more than one person was involved and urged police to go further with their investigation.

Lim Sreypich, who last month became the first-ever winner of the Spy Wine Cooler beauty contest, was found dumped in a canal in Kompong Speu province’s Kong Pisei district.

After her body was found, police held a press conference on Thursday where they said that Lim Sreypich’s alleged killer was Sun Kimheng, a 23-year-old woman she had befriended on the social networking website Facebook.

According to police, Ms. Kimheng is believed to have proposed a clothing business venture with Lim Sreypich and a meeting was organized to discuss the formation of a partnership. But those with whom Lim Sreypich met on Tuesday had different plans in mind.

According to police, their plan was to murder Lim Sreypich and then hold her parents to ransom for a sum of $50,000.

Chuon Narin, Phnom Penh’s deputy police chief, said that the alleged killer, Ms. Kimheng, was questioned at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday and will stay detained pending a decision on whether or not to charge her.

According to Mr. Narin, the three others, who were also arrested on Thursday when a group including Ms. Kimheng went to collect the ransom money at a bank on Monivong Boulevard, have been released.

“The suspect is still being questioned at the court but another three people have been allowed to go home because they are not involved in this case,” the police chief said.

During a police reconstruction of the murder on Thursday, the sole suspect, Ms. Kimheng, showed how she allegedly strangled the young woman with a piece of rope. Ms. Kimheng claimed that Lim Sreypich was not yet dead when she then used brown packing tape to bind the unconscious woman’s mouth and nose before putting her in a car and driving her to Kompong Speu province where she was dumped in a pond.

Police have not explained how Ms. Kimheng, if she had acted alone, would have been able to carry the unconscious woman to a car, hoist her in, and then hoist her out again to dump in a pond in another province.

On Friday afternoon dozens of friends and family followed Lim Sreypich’s funeral procession to a tranquil spot in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district where she was laid to rest in a Chinese-style tomb.

Gathered around her tomb, 27-year-old Deya Meun said his wife’s death should serve as a reminder to the dangers of social media.

“Now I tell people not to use Facebook,” Mr. Meun said. “I just wish my wife good luck and hope she goes to paradise,” he said.

Lim Sreypich’s mother, Da Dany, said that she was upset by the way local media had treated her daughter’s death by the photographs they had chosen to publish.

“She was a good daughter, she always respected her parents, husband and grandparents,” she said.

“From the time when she was a child until the day she was killed, she was unique. She didn’t like what other people liked. She wanted to be different,” Ms. Dany said.

The brutal murder of Lim Sreypich bears striking similarities, almost to the point of being a copycat, of the murder in Nigeria in July of Cynthia Osokogu, a 24-year-old former model who was also killed by people she met on Facebook, and who had lured her to a meeting to discuss a business partnership in the clothing business.

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