The Siem Reap Provincial Court on Wednesday charged a young woman with the murder of her infant daughter on Wednesday after she confessed to strangling the baby and also attempting to kill her 3-year-old son on Tuesday, a police official said.
Chhoeun Phorn, 26, lived with her husband, son and 6-month-old daughter in Svay Loeu district’s Svay Loeu commune and was home alone with the children on Tuesday morning when she suffered a psychotic episode related to an undiagnosed mental illness, according to deputy district police chief Seung Meng.
Ms. Phorn wrapped a scarf around her daughter’s neck and repeatedly threw her against their bed until the baby died, Mr. Meng said.
“It was a very brutal way for a mother to kill her baby,” he said, adding that after Ms. Phorn killed her daughter, she turned on her son.
“While she was tying the [scarf] around her son’s neck, a neighbor arrived and saved him,” he said, explaining that the neighbor had heard the boy’s cries.
Mr. Meng said the boy sustained only minor injuries and that Ms. Phorn was arrested at her home at about midday—some 30 minutes after the attack.
“The suspect has a mental illness…. We found a document that confirmed the mental illness,” he said, adding that the medical record did not give a specific diagnosis.
Hea Han, the chief of O’Meachey village, where Ms. Phorn lived, said her fragile psychological state was well known in the area.
“All the people here know the suspect has a mental illness, and she receives free treatment from the referral hospital but it does not seem to have improved,” he said.
Mr. Han added that Ms. Phorn’s mother lived with the couple and helped care for the children but had left to visit another daughter on Tuesday.
“It was unlucky that the suspect’s mother was not with her on that day,” he said. “When the sickness took over, there was no one to look after her.”
Duong Sokha, chief of the provincial police’s serious crimes bureau, said his officers sent Ms. Phorn to the Siem Reap Provincial Court on Wednesday afternoon.
“The court charged the suspect with murder,” he said. “Now the suspect is in prison awaiting trial.”
Court officials could not be reached.