Police said Tuesday they had no leads in the case of a Dutch woman found stabbed to death along with her critically injured 19-month-old baby in her Phnom Penh home Monday morning. But the victim’s cleaner, who discovered the bloody bodies, revealed a number of observations about the crime scene.
Keo Somaly, who discovered the dead body of Daphna Beerdsen and her barely-living daughter, said Tuesday that police had prevented her from taking the critically injured child to the hospital until they inspected the scene.
“Even though we could see the baby had a pulse, they took pictures first before they allowed her to go to the hospital,” said Ms. Somaly, 28, adding that it was between 20 and 30 minutes before police allowed a neighbor to take the toddler to hospital on a motorcycle-taxi.
Previous reports mistakenly said that the victim’s nanny, Srey Mom, discovered the bodies and alerted neighbors and police.
Ms. Somaly, who was questioned at length by police Monday, also said that blood on the tiled floor at the scene was dry and that Daphna Beerdsen’s body was in rigor mortis when she arrived shortly after 9 a.m.
Daphna Beerdsen’s husband, Joris Oele, had left Phnom Penh on Sunday afternoon for a workshop in Sihanoukville.
Having worked for the couple for seven months, Ms. Somaly also said she was certain that a suspected murder weapon presented to her by police was not previously in the home.
“It had a special handle and it was not Khmer style, it was a foreign tool,” she said of the sharp steel object that she said police had retrieved from the scene. “I have never seen it before.”
Ms. Somaly also said that a pair of green flip-flops had been left at the home and that Mr. Oele’s bicycle was missing.
Around midnight Monday, Mr. Oele and his critically injured daughter were airlifted to Bangkok from Kantha Bopha hospital in Phnom Penh.
A doctor at Kantha Bopha, who spoke on the condition of anonymity as the hospital does not allow patient information to be shared, said Tuesday that 19-month-old Dana Oele’s life was hanging in the balance.
“When she arrived here, she was nearly dead. She was in shock, in a coma and she was not breathing properly,” the doctor said.
The doctor said that on the Glasgow Scale, a neurological measure used to assess the conscious state of a person from 3 to 15—15 being most conscious— Dana was rated 3 on Monday afternoon.
“She was in a serious, critical condition with severe head trauma and swelling caused by banging,” he said. “If she had arrived later, she would have died.”
Sok Sam Uth, Tonle Bassac commune police chief, rejected the assertion that his officers had allowed the critically injured child to lay unattended for any amount of time.
“It is not true that we did not allow the woman to take the baby to hospital,” Mr. Sam Uth said. “The first thing we do is make sure we do everything we can to save lives.”
Asked how long police let the critically injured baby remain unattended, Mr. Sam Uth declined to comment.
Phnom Penh municipal foreign police chief Mom Sitha declined to share any information from the investigation but said that the immigration, penal, Chamkar Mon district, and foreign police units had formed a committee to investigate.
The U.N. in Phnom Penh, which currently employs Mr. Oele and has employed Daphna Beerdsen as a consultant in the past, declined to comment on U.N. security or insurance policies in relation to the murder.
The U.N. resident coordinator’s office, however, released a brief statement to “confirm the death of Ms. Daphna Beerdsen.”
“She worked as a UN-Habitat consultant in the past. Her partner is currently an international consultant of UN-Habitat. Their child was medically evacuated to Thailand where she is being treated. We cannot give any further comment on this case as it is under police investigation.”
rith@cambodiadaily.com, blomberg@cambodiadaily.com
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