Suspect in Murder of Teen Girl Released Over Lack of Evidence

Police in Pursat province’s Kandieng district on Sunday detained a local man for questioning over the murder of his teenage ex-girlfriend earlier in the weekend, but released him on Monday due to a lack of evidence, a police official said.

Eng Vireak, a 27-year-old farmer, was arrested just hours after the badly beaten body of Sao Sok, 15, was found in a rice field near her house in Sre Sdok commune on Sunday morning, according to To Taing Eng, chief of the provincial police’s technical and scientific bureau.

“In the afternoon [on Saturday], the victim went to watch TV at a neighbor’s house, but no one saw her come home, and her body was found the next day,” Mr. Taing Eng said, adding that one of Sao Sok’s flip-flops was found about 35 meters from the neighbor’s home, while a bloody stick was discovered near the body.

“She was struck multiple times on the head and the cause of death was a broken neck,” he said.

The bureau chief added that a medical examination had produced no evidence of sexual assault, leading police to suspect that the murder was motivated by a desire for vengeance.

He said that Mr. Vireak, who broke up with Sao Sok after getting engaged to a different woman, was arrested on Sunday afternoon and taken to the district police station for questioning after villagers informed authorities about his relationship with the victim.

“The villagers told us that the victim was broken-hearted after the suspect became engaged and often insulted him because of this,” he said.

Soeng Sopheak, chief of the provincial police’s serious crimes bureau, who is leading the investigation into the killing, confirmed that authorities had arrested Mr. Vireak, but said the farmer was released after denying any role in Sao Sok’s death.

“We decided to release him today because we did have not enough evidence to inculpate him,” Mr. Sopheak said, adding that no further suspects had been identified.

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