Man Kills Wife, Hangs Himself Over Sticky Rice Cake Dispute

A man in Kompong Thom province murdered his wife and then killed himself on Friday night after they had an argument about a sticky rice cake, police said Sunday.

Kim Chanrith, chief of police in Stong district’s Bralay commune, said the argument started at about 6 p.m. on Friday when Son Tham, 43, and his wife Sat Ny, 28, returned home from a Chinese religious ceremony at their neighbor’s house.

According to Mr. Chanrith, the neighbors had given half of a sticky rice cake to the couple’s 7-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son, but the children did not eat the cake, so Sat Ny began eating it herself.

“The husband grabbed her hand and asked, ‘Why are you eating it? Why don’t you save it for the children?’” he said, adding that Son Tham then threw what remained of the cake to the ground, leading both husband and wife to berate each other loudly.

When they finally stopped quarreling, Son Tham hurried to retrieve a machete, Mr. Chanrith said, which he then used to hack his wife to death, landing fatal blows to her head and arms.

“The husband hacked his wife four times on the head, on both arms and on the left side of her jaw,” he said. “The victim died instantly.”

“I’ve been working as a police officer for 23 years and I’ve never seen such a case,” he added.

Deputy district police chief Vorn Sophorn said that after murdering his wife, Son Tham briefly hid at a neighbor’s house.

When the owner of the house called the police, Mr. Sophorn said, Son Tham ran toward a nearby forest, using his machete to slash at police, who responded by shooting him once in the leg. He said the man still managed to flee about 150 meters into the woods, where he hanged himself from a tree branch at about 10:15 p.m.

The police chief added that Son Tham had been wanted by authorities in neighboring Prasat Balaing district for murdering his aunt, but that he did not know when the alleged crime took place.

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