| The Preah Khan temple (in Angkor, Cambodia) is taken over by the jungle.|
Author Helt, January 2008, Wikimedia Commons.
But in January 2007, tired of being robbed of food, Ratanakiri province villagers set a trap to find the culprit. What they witnessed in the middle of the night chilled them to their bones. A young woman emerged from the woods, naked, traveling on all fours, hunched like a monkey, her eyes glowing red (or so it has been reported). Behind her stood a disheveled man, hair on end, holding a sword. When the girl was captured, the man fled into the woods. Believing the man was an evil jungle spirit, the villagers did not give chase.
A village police officer claimed she was his long lost daughter, Rochom Phoeung, now 28 years old. She showed absolutely no recognition of the family, did not respond to physical touch, and didn't speak any language they were familiar with. However, she had a scar on her arm that matched one the missing eight-year old had possessed.
Villagers came to visit, bringing food and gifts, some donating money to her care into a container the father passed around. A water buffalo was, sacrificed as thanks to the jungle spirits for protecting her and returning her. The press nicknamed her Mowglina, after Mowgli in the Jungle Book.
But the Jungle Woman kept trying to rip her clothes off, to flee back into the forest. She didn't understand the hot water she was handed, the DVD player the family owned (though she was entranced by the films). She was unable to communicate what had happened to herself or her cousin, and had no understanding of their language.
They found scars around her wrist and ankle that indicated she had been bound, probably kept prisoner for some time. She was thin, emaciated even. Perhaps the girls had been kidnapped and kept tied up for years.
A reporter from the UK said she was able to say three words when he visited, as well as knowing how to use a spoon. Her hair was also trimmed short, and her feet were said to be in good shape. He didn't feel she could have been missing since she was 8 years old. Instead, he felt she had been kidnapped as an adult and kept prisoner, probably assaulted over a period of time. He felt this trauma was the cause for her lack of communication and behavior.
The family initially agreed to have DNA tests, but went back on this, kicking the sight seers and visitors out, blocking the press from talking to them anymore.
In 2010, reports say she escaped into the jungle again at some point, but came back within a few days. Later reports say she disappeared for eleven days, only to be discovered in a latrine hole that she had somehow worked herself into.
The last reports in 2011 said she was being schooled, was learning the language, and was now "a normal girl." The family never took the DNA tests to prove they were her family.
Note: Because this mystery is so recent, none of the photos of the girl were free to be used. You can go to the following links if you'd like to see photos of the girl:
Sydney Morning Herald, January 22, 2007
Phnom Penh Post, May 24, 2011
Do you believe this was the girl who'd disappeared twenty years earlier? Were she and her cousin lured into the woods and kept captive? What happened to her cousin? Who is this crazed man she was found with? Was he human or a jungle spirit? Or was she kidnapped as a grown woman and so badly traumatized that she began acting like a wild animal, losing her understanding of language and rudimentary tools?
May you find your Muse.