On January 13, 2007, Rochom P’ngieng, 29, emerged from the Cambodian wilderness completely naked and incapable of uttering a single word. In late May 2010 she then fled back into the jungle. So who is this mysterious jungle woman and from where did she come?
The Kingdom of Cambodia lies in Southeast Asia, cramped between Thailand to the west and Vietnam to the East. Within its confines are countless jungles that house ancient temples and villages long abandoned, save for the occasional band of hungry macaque monkeys hunting for grub.
Among these monkeys was Rochom, a “half animal girl” who in January 2007 stumbled into a Cambodian village in Rattanakiri province naked and hunched over like a macaque. Her conspicuous activities, like scavenging for food like a lost puppy, soon caught the attention of local villagers like Sal Lou, a local police officer who came forward to claim her as his daughter after identifying a scar on her face.
Two years later Rochom popped back up in the news when the Telegraph presented a piece concerning her inability to adapt to civilized life. Despite living two years with her parents, she had been unable to learn how to either speak or wear clothes. Her father Sal said, “Her condition looks worse than the time we brought her from the jungle. She always wants to take off her clothes and crawl back to the jungle.” She later stopped eating for a month, prompting her father to admit her to the Rattanakiri provincial hospital for four days.
According to the Agence France-Press, Rochom once again went missing in late May 2010 while bathing in a well behind her father’s home. Most likely she has returned back to the jungle. “There is no sign indicating that her disappearance could be foul play. I am sure she went back to the forest,” said her father.
Added to that, Sal told the Associated Press that Rochom “tried several times before to leave home,” but was unsuccessful up until now.
The only question that remains is why did she flee. As is evidenced by photos her of her, Rochom doesn’t appear all too happy. This could however merely be due to her inability to adjust. Or could it be more?
Sal claims that Rochom went missing in 1988 while herding water buffalo near the border to Vietnam. However, reporter Jonathan Watts from the Guardian noted that she bore scars on her left wrist and ankle that may have resulted from being held in captivity. His impression was that she was a “girl brought up in captivity, who somehow escaped, and then found her way to a father who desperately wanted to recover something he had loved and lost.”
Either way, it doesn’t help her father’s case that he refused to allow her to be DNA tested.
The video below goes into more detail regarding Rochom’s 2007 return to society.