French investigators probing the 2012 murder of Frenchman Laurent Vallier and his four children have wrapped up their latest field visit to Cambodia and left with a recovered knife and DNA samples from his deceased wife’s Cambodian relatives that they will spend the coming months analyzing, police said on Tuesday.
Four months after they went missing, the bodies of Laurent Vallier, 42, and his children were found in January 2012 inside a Land Cruiser submerged in a pond near their home in Kompong Speu province.
Cambodian police quickly ruled the case a murder-suicide, despite the fact that the Frenchman’s head was found in a suitcase in the back of the vehicle. But Laurent Vallier’s relatives in France suggested foul play, pointing to a land dispute with his Cambodian in-laws, and the case was reopened after French investigators conducted a forensic examination and ruled out suicide.
On Tuesday, Kompong Speu Provincial Court Investigating Judge Chhim Ritthy said the French investigators, who returned to Cambodia on November 30 after first coming to inspect the crime scene in 2013, spent five days in the province and departed on Saturday with new leads.
Inside the family’s house, he said, “they pumped the water out of a cistern and they found a knife and some hairs. They collected the knife and hairs to look for DNA in France.”
Judge Ritthy said they also took saliva samples from relatives of Laurent Vallier’s late wife, who died in 2009, to compare their DNA with samples they previously recovered from the scene. He said the results could be ready in six months.
Major General Sok Khemarin, who heads the Interior Ministry’s penal police department, said his officers helped the investigators question the family.
“We just questioned four of Vallier’s in-laws for the investigation, but we have not found the murder suspects,” he said.
Heng Poung, a lawyer for Laurent Vallier’s in-laws, said he did not know that the investigators had questioned his clients or taken saliva samples.
The French Embassy did not reply to a request for comment.
In a prepared statement, Claudine Enfoux, the French investigating judge in charge of the case, said the investigators had made “considerable progress” and would be studying unspecified “new samples.”