Police and provincial officials alleged yesterday that a 35-year-old man in Svay Rieng province had locked the door to his house on Wednesday night and used a machete to hack five members of his family to death.
The man, known to police only as Nang, allegedly caused serious injuries to three more family members during the killing spree before hanging himself to death from a ceiling beam inside his house in Svay Chrum district’s Svay Chrum commune, police said.
Relatives, human rights workers and police were left stunned yesterday as they attempted to come to terms with the loss of life.
According to provincial police chief Brach Rim, those killed included Nang’s 23-year-old wife, two of his sisters-in-law, his mother-in-law and his infant son. His 3-year-old daughter and 16-year-old sister-in-law were transferred to Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh after being seriously injured in the attack, while a nephew was kept at a referral hospital in Svay Rieng, according to a hospital official.
Deputy provincial police chief Prak Cham said investigators believe the man killed his relatives after he was accused of inappropriate behavior toward his teenage sister-in-law.
“For the last two days, he tried to rape his [wife’s adopted sister] and his wife caught him and argued with him about it,” Mr Cham said, adding that Nang’s mother-in-law had traveled from Siem Reap province to confront him about his behavior.
“Sometime on Wednesday night, the man locked the door to his house and killed the five family members.”
Police said they had received information about the family dispute from other relatives and neighbors. Provincial governor Chieng Am said that relatives living in the same village had sent a boy to check on the family yesterday morning after they had failed to pick up their phones.
The boy, Mr Am said, returned and told the relatives that the door was locked, that he could hear sobbing and that he had seen blood and bodies on the floor inside the house.
Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak, Interior Ministry spokesman, said yesterday that he could not fathom the brutality of the murders.
“The whole family has been killed,” he said. “This is the most serious and most brutal crime I have heard of since I started working for the Interior Ministry.”
Nget Channara, provincial coordinator for the human rights group Adhoc, said yesterday he believed a lack of education and morality had caused the man to kill his family. “This is very serious…. I have never seen anything like this before,” he said.
A doctor from Svay Rieng provincial referral hospital said yesterday that two of the three survivors—Nang’s 3-year-old daughter and 16-year-old sister-in-law—had been sent to Calmette hospital in the capital for treatment.
“They were both in a serious condition…. They had nearly been hacked to death,” said Dr Orn Sophea. He added that the 16-year-old had undergone an operation at in Phnom Penh for injuries to her head, back and chest.
“His 3-year-old daughter had no marks on her body but her eyes were dark and we suspect she sustained serious head injuries,” he said.
Mr Am, the provincial governor, said that he would ensure that the investigation was carried out appropriately by police, even though the suspect was dead.
“Even though the murderer committed suicide, we are still investigating this case,” Mr Am said, adding that he could not understand the man’s motives. “I have seen killing before, but I have never seen a father kill his own kids like this,” he said.