Cambodian police are scrambling to track down suspects in the kidnap and murder of an 8-year-old Vietnamese girl whose body was found in a highly decomposed state in Svay Rieng Province last week.
Keung Khhorn, provincial chief of police, told The Phnom Penh Post that the authorities believe the girl had been killed in Vietnam and her body dumped on the Cambodian side of the border after the child’s mother could not come up with a US$300 ransom.
“The girl was at school in Ho Chi Minh City and her mother came to work at a casino on the Cambodian border,” he was quoted by The Phnom Penh Post as saying. “We have exchanged information with the Vietnamese authorities and they are trying to locate her family.”
On March 19, police in southern Vietnam said that the body of the girl who reportedly went missing after school in January has been found in Cambodia hundreds of kilometers away.
Police in Cambodia said they have handed over the body of Ngo Ngoc Phut to her family in Ho Chi Minh City, adding that since the body was badly decomposed, her parents could only identify Phut by her uniform, student identity card and some books that had her name.
The body had been found in an area filled with casinos in the border province of Svay Rieng.
Phut reportedly went to school on January 26 and never returned home.
Her family had looked in vain for her in HCMC as well as Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc and Ca Mau.
A joint Cambodian task force, called Task Force Juliet, has been established to coordinate the investigation, James McCabe, operations manager at the Child Protection Unit, told The Phnom Penh Post on Monday.
“All possible resources will be mobilized to solve this case,” he was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
Khhorn said that police considered the crime a murder-kidnapping as the mother reported receiving calls demanding $300 in cash around the time her daughter went missing, according to The Phnom Penh Post.