by Bob Couttie

dadyDid Lauren Valliers, a 42-year old French tour guide living in Cambodia, kill his four children, aged 2 to 11 years old, and drive his 4X4 Nissan Patrol into a pond at the back of his house in September 2011? Or was it murder?

Valliers was a single parent. His Cambodian wife died while giving birth to the couple’s youngest child in 2009. He had made his home some 45 miles to the west of the country’s capital Phnom Penh.

The family was last seen alive about 8 September 2011. When they disappeared so did their white 4×4 vehicle. Nothing seemed to be missing from the abandoned home except for the urn containing the ashes of Valliers’s wife. Eventually, family members alerted the French embassy as to the disappearance who in turn contacted local police.

skullIt was not until 14 January 2012 that the white 4×4 was found at the bottom of a pond immediately adjacent to the house. When it was pulled from the water, police found the badly decayed remains of Valliers and his four children. Valliers’ skull had somehow become detached over the months of immersion and was now in an open suitcase in the back of the car. The urn containing the ashes of Valliers’s wife was also in the car.

Investigators from Cambodia and France came to the conclusion that Valliers had murdered his children, or drugged them, put them into his car and driven it into the pond in third gear with the windows closed. The main support for the conclusion was that nothing in the house appeared to have been touched, plus the urn of ashes that was found in the car.

Valliers’s father-in-law, Tith Chuon, disagreed, according to French public service radio station RFI:

“He would not commit suicide. I know his heart.”

Almost a year after the bodies were found Valliers’ in-laws were questioned about the deaths after they filed a land-title claim with the Kampong Speu provincial government. They were not suspects but it revived a case that had been laid to rest. Kampong Speu investigating judge Chem Rithy told Voice Of America’s Khmer service:

“The French Embassy needs to open this case by international standards.”

forenChem Rithy got his wish. In March 2013 a team of 10 French investigators, including an investigative judge, Claudine Enfoux, arrived in Cambodia to work with Cambodian police authorities and Chem Rithy.

This time evidence was found of blood in the house and on a rope. A statement from the French embassy said:


“This (investigation) has led to very significant breakthroughs which are now ruling out the possibility of a suicide.”

NR LAURENT DARDMEURTRE DE LAURENT VALLIER ET DE SES 4 ENFANTS AU CAIn much of Asia the wheels of justice turn slowly, if at all. While investigators believe as many as five people were involved in the murder, no suspects have yet been arrested. Valliers’ family in France talk of a land dispute between him and his in-laws, something the in-laws deny, and police are questioning a Cambodian brother-in-law who allegedly had several arguments with Valliers and is reported to have a history of drug abuse. Whether DNA evidence is available, or meaningful, as in the case of the Kampot murder remains to be seen.

All that is known for sure, after more than a year, is that the Valliers family was murdered. Bringing the murderer(s) to justice may take a whole lot longer.

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12 Responses to French Family of Five Found Murdered in Cambodian Pond: The Valliers Real-Life Murder Mystery

  1. dotty says:

    Well, the doors and the windows of the car were closed, 3rd gear and he was on the drivers seat…

    how would someone else have managed that car into the pond?

    Driving the car somehow into the pond, while having Laurent on the drivers seat, and then open the door and get out and close the door, when the car is already in the water???

    thats quite a weird method, to get rid of some bodies in the otherwise jungle?

  2. dotty says:

    what exactly made the authorities believe, that Laurent was murdered?

    was he indeed decapitated?

  3. Bob Couttie says:

    The main evidence for murder is traces of blood found in the house. The vehicle may simply have been pushed into the pond, which may explain why they are looking at three to five perpetrators. It isn’t difficult to start a car, get it in gear, get it moving towards the pond and close the door.

    Decapitation would leave clearly identifiable cut marks. There have been no reports that this was the case (No pun intended).

  4. dotty says:

    with 4 children (age 2-11) it shouldnt be a surprise to find blood in the house… neither when its on a rope…

    too little information… what else was in that suitcase?

  5. dotty says:

    when killers wanted to get rid of the bodies, they might have preferred a different pond, not just the one behind the house… having the windows closed would prevent evidence getting out of the car…

    but then there should have been more blood found in the house, than just traces… with 4 children and an adult there would be a “crime scene”… none of them had died in their beds (either shot, stabbed, there would be lots of blood left)… and the killers must have cleaned anyway quite thoroughly…

    and then they do the first time trick to manage a car into a pond… choosing the third gear, and leaving windows closed… so, what if it hadnt worked out properly and the car got stuck before deep enough in the pond? they couldnt have opened it anymore (without smashing windows)… bad luck… what a risky method to dispose of bodies…

    what if laurent got a heart attack and drove accidentially into the pond? fact is, the children were certainly dead, when the car drove in the pond, as they would have tried to open a window and get out…

    if he killed the children and committed suicide, then why pls should he drive into this pond?
    a parent might rather lay them into their beds, then commit suicide with the ashes and a picture next… why drive into a pond?

    after all – it looks like murder…
    as someone tried to stage a crime scene with laurent and the kids having left the house…
    what would they do?
    take a suitcase, take the ashes and the car…
    all this was found in the pond…

  6. dotty says:

    after all, they can have died elsewhere…

    laurent was murdered – maybe in a rage – and the children poisoned or suffocated, just to cover up the murder or to get other advantages (inheritence)…

  7. dotty says:

    just want to add:
    possibly the children (2-11) wouldnt have tried to open the windows… they might have been very afraid by the water around and its not clear if they even could swim…

    as some report stated earlier, for all i remember, the authorities assumed they were dead already – sounds as if there was no water found in their lungs…

  8. dotty says:

    if i was police, i would exhume the wife for autopsy… check for poison, cause of death…

    • dotty says:

      sorry, it was her ashes… bad luck…

    • Patrick H. Moore says:

      It will be very interesting to see what the investigators find out. So far they don’t seem to have made much progress. Thanks for all your insightful comments.

  9. dotty says:

    it could have been, that someone thought when she is gone, the “french” family wont be eligible to inherit anything…
    what could explain the dispute about land…

    its a classic to kill women in the childbed…

  10. Bob Couttie says:

    The bodies were severely decomposed, so it is unlikely there were any lungs left to examine. The position of the bodies would have changed following bloating and floating. Those who had most to gain, the in-laws were those who doubted the suicide explanation and believed it was murder.

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