Police arrested a mentally ill man Sunday after he allegedly hacked an elderly couple and their son to death while they slept inside their home in Preah Vihear province’s Chey Sen district, police and a rights worker said.
Vat Bunthoeun, 25, who police said had a history of mental illness, was drunk when he snuck into the victims’ wooden house in Khchong commune at about 5 a.m. Sunday morning and killed them with an ax while they were still sleeping, according to deputy provincial police chief Keo Chamroeun.
Mr. Chamroeun identified the victims as Chen Chhin, 66, his wife Meas Em, 73, and their son Chen Team, 39. He said the family lived near Mr. Bunthoeun, but they did not know each other.
“When the suspect gets drunk, he always goes crazy,” Mr. Chamroeun said, adding that he did not know how long Mr. Bunthoeun had suffered from a psychological disorder or other details about his mental condition.
Mr. Chamroeun said district police—having been tipped off by neighbors—surrounded the slain family’s home while Mr. Bunthoeun was still inside and arrested him easily.
“This is a rare case that has occurred, in which three people died in the blink of an eye,” he said, adding that Mr. Bunthoeun would be sent to the Preah Vihear Provincial Court to be charged today.
Lor Chan, Preah Vihear provincial monitor for rights group Adhoc, said the organization was closely following the murder case because the suspect was mentally unstable.
“We are very sorry to hear this, but we are watching this case, because we heard the killer had mental-health problems,” Mr. Chan said.
“Three villagers died in less than a minute, and had never met [the suspect] before.”