A woman in Cambodia walked out of the jungle a week ago, making odd grunting noises and walking like a monkey. From a scar on her arm, one family has claimed her as its own, saying she ran away 19 years ago. But skeptics abound, and her inability to speak is no help in solving the mystery.


She was captured, naked, on Jan. 13 after a villager caught her taking food from a lunch box he left at a site near his farm, said local police.

Village policeman Sal Lou described his first glimpse of the woman: “She was naked and walking in a bending-forward position like a monkey, exactly like a monkey. She was bare-bones skinny.”

Her eyes were red like a tiger’s, he said, and he felt fear.

But he checked her right arm. There he found a scar, just as his daughter had from an accident with a knife before she disappeared.

“She looked terrible, but despite all of that, she is my child,” he said.

Objective evidence for the relationship, beyond a certain physical resemblance, is thin. But Sal Lou is not the only family member claiming Rochom P’ngien has returned at last.

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