Police investigating the possible murder of a toddler in Phnom Penh last week say witnesses overheard a woman threatening to a kill a boy of similar age several days before the body was found.
The toddler, who police estimate was about 2 years old, was found facedown in a pond in Chroy Changva district’s Bak Kheng commune on Friday morning. A subsequent autopsy led police to conclude that the boy had been strangled, but authorities have yet to identify him.
Commune police chief Mean Thorn said on Monday that officers had interviewed local residents on Saturday and learned that some of them had seen a mentally unstable woman walking with a young boy in the area on May 30.
“If you won’t come to meet me and our son, I will kill the child,” the woman was heard yelling, he said.
He said the woman also told locals that she had traveled to Phnom Penh from Kampot province in search of her husband—who she suspected was having an affair—but left in a hurry when she could not locate him in the area.
“I know my husband has a girlfriend in Bak Kheng. That’s why I came looking for him here, but I don’t know where he is staying,” the woman said, according to Mr. Thorn.
Ek Sereivuth, a deputy district police chief, said he too was aware of reports about the woman but declined to say more about the investigation.
“We cannot spread any news to journalists until our investigation is completed,” he said.
The Child Protection Unit, the policing wing of the Cambodian Children’s Fund, is investigating the case with local authorities and took to Facebook on Monday to ask potential witnesses and the parents of the boy—who the CPU estimates was 3 to 4 years old—to come forward with information about the murder.
(Additional reporting by Taylor O’Connell)