Police on Wednesday said that four construction workers have confessed to the murder of a Singaporean school director, whose beaten body was discovered on Tuesday morning in Kompong Speu province.
The Singaporean Embassy in Phnom Penh confirmed that the body was that of 55-year-old Wendy Lim, who was killed at the Christian-run Glad Tidings International School in Chbar Mon City, where she had been staying.
Lieutenant Colonel Svay Yean, penal police chief in Kompong Speu, said that four construction workers, who had continued building a new section of the school after the murder took place, were taken in for questioning Tuesday evening.
“They all confessed after questioning by Kompong Speu provincial police in cooperation with the Interior Ministry’s penal police,” he said Wednesday, identifying Tong Sophal, 26, as the man responsible for attacking Wendy Lim, and his collaborators as Keo Sovuth, 32, Yean Lalie, 30, and Ou Lymihong, whose age is not known.
“They confessed that the victim’s head was smashed into the door. They confessed to all these actions today.”
Lt. Col. Yean said he could not confirm a motive for the murder, but that police have since recovered three mobile telephones, 325 Singapore dollars (about $264), and 20,000 riel (about $5) in cash, which had been stolen from the victim’s room.
Police also discovered that the suspects had failed to take a much bigger haul of $4,132 in Wendy Lim’s purse, which was located in her bedroom inside the unfinished school building, according to Lt. Col. Yean.
“Our investigation of this case is finished because all of them confessed and the victim’s belongings were found. Now we have submitted documents and sent the suspects to the court because there is no one else involved in this murder,” he said.
According to an official in the provincial prosecutor’s office, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to share details of the case, a preliminary police report said that the suspects, who had been drinking, decided to try to burgle Wendy Lim on Monday night.
Mr. Sophal scaled a wall to enter the victim’s quarters, cutting himself on broken glass embedded in the top of the wall in the process, before sneaking into Wendy Lim’s room and gathering up some of her belongings, the official said.
“Then the victim woke up and saw him. They struggled and, in the fight, he grabbed her by the hair and smashed her into the door of the room and onto the floor,” the official said.
Sinai Phouek, director for the Christian NGO New Hope for Orphans—which works together with the Glad Tidings International School—said police found the stolen belongings buried in the school compound about 200 meters from the victim’s room.
Mr. Phoeuk said an iPad and a Samsung Galaxy smartphone were among the belongings found buried in the schoolyard.
“They just cover with the dirt under the tree,” he said, adding that police found the cache after following a trail of blood left by the injured perpetrator.
He also said the U.S. dollars found in the victim’s room had been withdrawn from a nearby ANZ Royal Bank on Monday to pay the wages of teachers at the school. The builders may have known there was likely to be money in the room, but had not been able to find it, he added. “They worked there almost one year,” Mr. Phoeuk said.