Suspect Arrested in Rape and Murder of Tbong Khmum Teenager

A 41-year-old man was arrested in Tbong Khmum province on Friday as the lone suspect in the rape and murder of a teenage girl whose body was found submerged in a pond the day before, police said.

The parents of Ny Kanha, 17, found their daughter’s body floating in a lake in Ponhea Krek district’s Krek commune after they went searching for her when she did not return home from her shift at a local rubber plantation, according to deputy provincial police chief Prak Bun Non.

“When they got to the pond, they saw hair on top of the water and used a stick to reach out and pick up the hair. They saw the hair tie and knew it was their daughter,” he said, adding that the parents alerted the village chief, who called police to the scene to begin an investigation.

“Based on the evidence, it was a single suspect who raped the victim and punched her in the nose and strangled her to death,” Mr. Bun Non said, adding that bodily fluids had been collected for examination by forensic police at the Ministry of Interior.

“The cruelty seen in this rape and murder makes it very rare,” he said.

Mr. Bun Non declined to explain how his officers had identified Suor Reth, who was arrested Friday afternoon in Kor village, where both he and the victim’s family live.

At the commune police station, however, officers ordered Mr. Reth to take off his shirt and saw that his back was marked by scratches that they believe were sustained during a struggle with the victim.

“Mr. Reth answered that these scratches were from his wife but when we asked his wife separately, she said she had never scratched her husband,” Mr. Bun Non said. “We have sent him for further questioning at provincial police headquarters.”

Ponhea Krek district police chief Om Monivann compared the rape-murder to another brutal crime committed in the same village in April.

In that case, he said, the suspect, who is now in prison, “raped and murdered the victim before hanging her by the neck from a tree” in order to make police believe she had committed suicide.

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