Friends and relatives of murder victim Sann Asros—whose decomposing body was found on the side of the road in Kandal province on Saturday—moved out of their apartments Tuesday for fear that her killer might return.
Sann Asros, 22, a supervisor’s assistant at the Tak Sun Enterprise garment factory in Phnom Penh, went missing on February 20, according to her father, who filed a missing persons report with police two days later. Her body was discovered on Saturday in a ditch a few meters from National Road 61 in Ponhea Leu district by a man who stopped to urinate, police said.
Police have identified the suspected killer as Sam Ol Mony, 30, Sann Asros’ neighbor at an apartment building behind the factory in Dangkao district. Mr. Ol Mony, who remains at large, also stands accused of raping and robbing the victim.
“We moved from [the apartment building] because we are scared,” said Ches Seang Em, 42, an aunt of Sann Asros who fled the building in Kraing Pongro commune along with some 10 friends and family members of the victim.
“We think that maybe someone wants to kill us,” she said.
Ok Sophaon, 49, a Tak Sun worker whose rental room is located near the stretch now abandoned by those close to Sann Asros, pointed to her coworker’s second source of income as a possible motive for her murder.
“I think the murder could be related to a business dispute because the victim was a moneylender,” she said.
According to police, $1,500 in cash was missing from Sann Asros’ rental room, along with jewelry, her 2013 Honda motorbike and two smartphones.
Ms. Seang Em said her niece made at least $300 per month as a supervisor’s assistant, nearly double what the average garment worker makes.
Sann Asros also loaned money to her fellow workers and neighbors—including Mr. Ol Mony— and usually expected them to pay her back with interest, her aunt said.
“My niece used to tell me that Mr. Mony borrowed money from her sometimes,” she said. “Sometimes $10 to $20, but he rarely paid her back and referred the debt to his wife.”
“Mr. Mony clearly knew my niece was a money lender and he killed her to get money and some jewelry,” she added.
Luon Hoeun, 31, who also lives near Sann Asros’ rental room, said that Mr. Ol Mony remained at the apartment building for two days after her disappearance.
“No one knew that he might be the murderer because after the victim went missing, his activity was normal,” Mr. Hoeun said, adding that the suspect fled the complex on February 23.
On Monday, the victim’s father, Ly Sann, said Mr. Ol Mony called his wife on February 23 and admitted to murdering his daughter and leaving her body in Kandal province.
“Mr. Reak pretended to search for my daughter,” for two days after her disappearance, Mr. Sann said, using a nickname for Mr. Ol Mony.
“He told me at that time that he knew nothing about my daughter’s disappearance,” he added.