Murder Suspect Still at Large, Wife Released

A man suspected of killing a deputy commune police chief’s wife remains at large after police arrested, questioned and released the suspect’s own wife, having ruled out her involvement in the crime, officials said on Thursday.

The body of Kov Sivheng, 25, was found by farmers as they walked to work on Wednesday, bruised and facedown in a roadside ditch 5 km from her home in Pailin province.

Iv Kimsean, deputy provincial police chief, said police had identified the suspect as 27-year-old fish seller Phong Sopheak, whom the victim picked up on a motorbike about 60 meters from her house before driving off on Tuesday night, according to neighbors.

Mr. Kimsean said the suspect’s wife—identified by his colleague as Khin Khun, 25—was detained at provincial police headquarters on Wednesday and released on Thursday after investigators determined she did not take part in the murder.

The woman declined to answer questions about why her husband may have carried out the crime, Mr. Kimsean said, but told investigators he’d left their home around the time that neighbors saw the victim pick up a male passenger. She also recognized her husband’s hat and shoes, which were found at the scene, he added.

“We concluded that her husband killed the victim,” Mr. Kimsean said.

Police brought Ms. Khun in for questioning after neighbors told them that she had met with her husband in the village on the morning after the suspected murder.

O’Tavao commune police chief Kong Samnang said Ms. Khun gave her husband money and a change of clothes at their home on Wednesday morning. The couple then left for a nearby abandoned house to evade officials before Mr. Sopheak disappeared.

The victim’s husband, O’Tavao deputy commune police chief Touch Chenly, suspected rocks found near his wife’s body had been used to kill her.

“There were serious wounds on her head. There were marks where the rocks hit,” he said, adding that he had searched for his wife throughout the night on Tuesday.

Mr. Chenly and Kov Sivheng had two sons together, aged 1 and 5.

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