Man Jailed for Killing Wife, Faking Her Suicide

A fruit farmer has been charged with murder in Battambang prov­ince for strangling his wife to death on Tuesday night and then at­tempting to pass off her death as a suicide, police said.
Sao Loem, 31, was apprehended outside his home in Samlot district at noon on Wednesday as he prepared to cremate his wife’s body before a crowd of sympathetic neighbors—and destroy the only evidence of his crime—according to district police chief Kor Sunkang.

Mr. Sunkang said the farmer was brought to the district police station following his arrest and immediately burst forth with a confession, saying he strangled his wife, Hav La, 32, with his hands, hanged her by the neck from a wooden ceiling beam, and finally rushed to tell his aunt that the woman had killed herself, feigning woe.

The police chief said Mr. Loem’s wife had worked stocking shelves at a grocery store across the border in Thailand and only intermittently stayed with her husband in Battambang. He said the woman had repeatedly asked Mr. Loem for a divorce, and that the couple argued often.

It was a jealousy-fueled quarrel that induced the farmer to kill his wife, Mr. Sunkang said.

“The suspect, the husband, killed his wife because his wife and a Thai man spent a long time talking on the phone” on Tuesday evening, Mr. Sunkang said.

He explained that when Mr. Loem, sitting on the floor of their home, ordered his wife to get off the phone, she kicked him in the head, told him to leave her alone, and again asked for a di­vorce. En­raged, Mr. Loem stood up, punched his wife in the face six times, then strangled her, he said.

An examination of Hav La’s body revealed bruising on her face, according to Mr. Sunkang. “After the examination, police concluded that if she had hanged herself, she would not have bruises on her face,” he said.

Provincial police chief Chet Van­ny confirmed the district police chief’s account and said Mr. Loem was charged with murder at the Battambang Provincial Court on Thursday, then sent to the provincial prison to await trial.

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