A 36-year-old construction worker is being held by police in Kandal province after confessing to murdering his boss with a hatchet as the pair escorted a drunk friend home from a party on Thursday night, police said on Friday.
The suspect, Hen Chen, 36, had been hosting friends and family members at his house in Kandal Stung district’s Tbeng commune when one of the revelers decided to retire for the night, but was judged too drunk to drive home alone, according to commune police chief Buth Sokhunthea.
Mr. Sokunthea said that Voeun Pheap, 29, a foreman of the construction site at which Mr. Chen worked, offered to drive alongside the intoxicated man to ensure that he arrived home safely, and that the host joined him, riding pillion on his boss’s Honda Dream.
“The suspect came with him, but he took an ax, too,” he said.
The drunk man was escorted home safely, but on the way back to the party, Mr. Chen—hoping to steal the foreman’s motorbike —pulled the hatchet out of his waistband and struck Voeun Pheap twice in the back of the head, causing him to lose control of the vehicle and crash.
“The robbery was not a success because after [the crash], the motorbike was not working,” Mr. Sokhunthea said, explaining that as Mr. Chen was attempting to push the Honda back to his village about 3 km away, a group of locals who had spotted Voeun Pheap’s body gave chase, forcing the suspect to drop the bike and run home.
District police chief Mern Chanrith said that upon receiving reports of the murder, he quickly identified Voeun Pheap as the victim and went to the foreman’s house, where his wife—who had also been at the party—told him that her husband had left with Mr. Chen.
Police then went to Mr. Chen’s house, where they found the suspect in bed.
“We arrested him and began questioning him, and he quickly confessed to killing his friend. He even showed police where he had hidden the ax,” he said, adding that investigators then retrieved the bloodied hatchet from a gutter on the roof.
Mr. Chanrith said the suspect sustained superficial injuries in the crash, and would spend the night at the provincial police headquarters before being sent to court on Saturday.