Police in Kompong Speu province’s Samraong Tong district on Saturday arrested a 12-year-old girl suspected of drowning her 4-year-old neighbor earlier that day, officials said Sunday.
Sam Sak, chief of the provincial police’s serious crimes bureau, said the suspect admitted to police that she killed her neighbor, Heak Kimchheng, on Saturday afternoon after stealing the younger girl’s gold earrings, which she sold to buy a mobile phone.
“The reason the suspect killed the 4-year-old girl is because she needed money to buy a phone,” Mr. Sak said.
“The suspect took the earrings off the victim and then held the girl under the water until she stopped moving.”
District police chief Khut Sophal said Heak Kimchheng was killed in Ralaing Kroeul commune, about 500 meters from her home, after accompanying the suspect to a small dam.
Mr. Sophal said the victim left her grandmother’s house at about 1 p.m. Saturday to go buy some sugarcane.
When she did not return, the grandmother went to look for her and found her face down in the water near the dam at about 6 p.m., he said.
“The girl was found dead in the water…with three rocks on her body,” he said.
After the body was discovered, Mr. Sophal said, police interviewed locals who saw the 12-year-old walking toward the dam with Heak Kimchheng, and with their help identified the suspect, whom they questioned that night.
“After we found the girl and got information from witnesses, we called the 12-year-old girl in for questioning and she admitted that she killed the 4-year-old girl,” he said.
“It is the first case [of a child killing another child] in my district, and I feel pity for both the victim and the suspect because they are too young,” he added.
Mr. Sak said the girl told police that she sold the earrings at a local market for about $20 and used the money to buy a $19 phone.
“This girl has been badly behaved since she was a child and always stole other people’s belongings,” he said of the suspect,
Mr. Sak said the 12-year-old, who remains in police custody at the provincial police headquarters, would be sent to the provincial court Monday.