A woman fought off a rape attempt in Kratie province on Saturday night only to be murdered by her attacker, according to police, in what was at least the fifth murder connected to a sexual assault identified by authorities this year.
Som Chenda, 23, was attacked by brickmaker Chet Chanrith, 19, while walking to a DVD shop from her home in Chet Borei district at about 8 p.m. on Saturday, according to Hout Limheng, chief of the provincial police’s serious crimes bureau.
“The suspect attempted to rape the victim as she was walking along the path,” Mr. Limheng said, adding that when the woman attempted to fight him off—scratching his face and body—he became angry and knocked her unconscious.
“The suspect dragged the body to a pond, but he was afraid she was still alive, so he snapped her neck before throwing her body into the pond,” he said.
The body was discovered on Monday morning in the pond, from which water is pumped by local brickmakers for use in their trade, the bureau chief said.
Sreu Chealy, a deputy district police chief, said investigators later narrowed down the potential pool of suspects to the workers who operated the brick kiln near where the body was found, then identified Mr. Chanrith as the perpetrator after they noticed scratch marks on his body.
“The suspect confessed to killing the victim,” Mr. Chealy said. “He struck the victim until she was unconscious and pressed her neck with an iron bar and strangled her.”
Kratie Provincial Court director Din Sivuthy said court officials were expected to lay charges against Mr. Chanrith today.
The brutal crime marks at least the fifth time this year that a victim of sexual assault has been murdered by her attacker.
Prominent women’s rights advocate Ros Sopheap said she believed crimes against women had become more brutal in recent years.
“I feel it is more savage than before, if I compare to 10 years ago,” she said, adding that a lack of respect for the judicial system led many of the perpetrators to kill their victims.
“When people do not trust [the courts], the murderer feels they are OK to commit the crime,” she said. “They believe they will not have any problems.”
(Additional reporting by Taylor O’Connell)