Two teenagers and an 8-year-old boy were brutally hacked to death with a machete while riding a motorbike in remote Siem Reap province on Saturday, in what police said on Sunday was a case of revenge and robbery.
The three victims, Mech Kanha, 16; Med Chaya, 13; and Ang Soy, 8, were driving a 2011 Honda Dream motorbike to a cassava farm where they worked in Angkor Chum district’s Kok Doung commune when they were attacked at about noon, according to deputy provincial police chief Thong Sokun.
“This case is premeditated murder of revenge, with the suspect using a machete to chop them one by one to death—all while on the dirt road to their farm in the jungle,” he said.
Brigadier General Sokun added that the attacker had been hiding in the forest by the dirt road and ambushed the victims with a long-handled machete, hacking them on their heads and backs.
He said the two older victims died on the spot, while the youngest was found dead about 100 meters down the road after apparently attempting to escape from the attacker. The motorbike was gone when police arrived.
“At first we suspected this case is motorbike robbery, but after our police spent over five hours investigating, we found out this case is revenge and premeditated murder by the suspect, 17-year-old Chhon Chen,” Brig. Gen. Sokun said.
Mr. Chen, who lived in the same village as the victims, was arrested at his home in Kok Doung commune at 6 p.m. on Saturday and placed in overnight detention at the district police headquarters, he said.
During questioning, he added, Mr. Chen confessed to the crime, saying that he targeted the eldest victim, Mech Kanha, out of jealousy and a personal dispute from when they worked together in Thailand. He admitted to killing the younger passengers to eliminate witnesses, he said.
“We arrested the suspect, Chhon Chen, 17, at his home in Kok Doung commune at 6 p.m. Yesterday and today he confessed that this case is revenge and he went to show [police] the victim’s motorbike and his machete hidden in the forest about 100 meters from the dirt road,” Brig. Gen. Sokun said.
“It is a revenge case: Firstly, revenge because both of them worked in Thailand three years ago. And secondly, they both love one woman in the village,” he explained. “The two young boys, the 8-year-old and 13-year-old, were chopped to death to shut their mouths.”
Mr. Chen was transferred to the Siem Reap provincial police station on Sunday morning and will be sent to the Siem Reap Provincial Court today, Brig. Gen. Sokun said.