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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cambodian 'Jungle Woman' Found in Outdoor Toilet

Lisa Flam

Lisa Flam Contributor


(June 8) -- Her family feared she had gone back to the jungle.

A 29-year-old Cambodian woman who apparently lived for 18 years in the jungle before emerging three years ago had vanished 11 days ago while bathing in a well behind their home, and her family thought they had lost her again.

But Rochom P'ngieng was found Monday in an outdoor toilet about 300 feet from her home, the man who says he's her father, Sal Lou, told Agence France-Presse. A neighbor had heard her crying.
So-called jungle woman Rochom P'ngieng, center, sits with her  parents in a Cambodian hospital in October 2009.
STR / AFP / Getty Images
Rochom P'ngieng, center, sits with her parents in a Cambodian hospital in October. She went missing from her family's home for 11 days before a neighbor found her nearby in an outdor toilet. She was hospitalized but was reportedly refusing treatment.

"She was discovered in a 10-meter deep toilet. It's an unbelievable story. She spent 11 days there," he said, adding that she was soaked with waste up to her chest.

"We are still wondering how she could get into the toilet," he said. The toilet has a small hole covered in wood, he said.

P'ngieng, dubbed "jungle woman" after being found the first time, was admitted to a hospital after being rescued from the sewage pit, Lou said.

She was found without food or water, The Telegraph reported, adding that she ripped out an intravenous drip administered by a doctor and refused other treatments.

"The villagers pulled my daughter out of the lavatory, and we cleaned her up, but now she looks pale and weak," the father told the newspaper. "She has no strength. She has been sleeping all the time."

Lou says he's the woman's father but he has refused to take a DNA test, the Telegraph said, adding that there are theories that she did not grow up in the jungle but is really a victim of captivity and abuse.

P'ngieng vanished in 1989 while herding water buffalo when she was a young girl. She came out of the jungle in 2007, naked and bent over like a monkey, looking for food. She was identified after trying to steal food from a village and reunited with her family, who live in Rattanakiri province, about 960 miles northeast of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.

But she had trouble fitting back into society. She hasn't learned either of the local Cambodian languages and preferred to crawl instead of walk. She also refuses to wear clothing.