Police arrested a man on Wednesday over the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl whose body was found by her parents in their rice field in Kampot province, and are searching Phnom Penh for another man the suspect identified as his accomplice, authorities said on Wednesday.
The victim’s parents told police they last saw their daughter alive as she set off on the road from her home in Chhuk district for her sister’s house about 200 meters away on Monday evening. They did not report her disappearance because she often stayed for days at a time with her sister, according to Kampot provincial police chief Mao Chanmathurith.
“At first, the parents thought their daughter was sleeping at her sister’s house, so while she was missing for two days they didn’t report it to local police. They just found the body [on Wednesday] morning,” Mr. Chanmathurith said.
After examining the body, he said, police concluded the girl was raped and then bludgeoned to death with a large stick. “Maybe he didn’t want the victim to talk and find the person who raped her,” he said.
Mr. Chanmathurith said the 17-year-old suspect had been identified and arrested in Chhuk district based on interviews with the victim’s family and neighbors in Lboeuk commune, but that police did not believe he was known to the victim.
Deputy provincial penal police chief Kong Sakhorn said he was in Phnom Penh looking for the other suspect and did not have time to answer further questions because he was in the middle of an investigation.
Uon Sivutha, deputy chief of Chhuk district, disputed the timeline offered by Mr. Chanmathurith, and said the girl’s parents told him she left home on Tuesday evening, the same night police believe she was murdered.
“The victim was murdered on Tuesday night while she walked to her sister’s house to feed the chicken like usual,” Mr. Sivutha said, adding that he believed the suspect had likely stalked the victim after she left her home.
“The victim walked along the dark and quiet road to her sister’s house,” he said. “The suspect was following behind the victim, then he took her to the rice field and raped her.”
“This is a mistake that all parents make, letting their children go visit relatives and thinking nothing will happen,” Mr. Sivutha said.