SABAH - Three-year-old Shahriqal Sidek was thought to have gone missing at a rubber plantation near his village in Selangon while playing with his older brothers on Friday. His body was later found in a stream at Kampong Jempagah, near SM St John, on Sunday afternoon.
Police recovered the body after they arrested the boy's neighbour, a 30-year-old self-employed man.
Beaufort police chief Mustaffa Maarof Mustaffa said that, after intense questioning, the neighbour led the authorities to the stream.
"The suspect told us that he was irritated by the children playing around the neighbourhood," said Deputy Superintendent Mustaffa. "He claimed that he took the boy in his car and slapped him several times, and the boy died."
He added that the police were investigating as the neighbour and Shahriqal's father had argued recently.
The police chief said boys playing in the neighbourhood had told the police that they had seen the neighbour abducting the child.
"We picked him up immediately," he said, adding that the police checked the neighbour's house on Friday after Shahriqal's father told them of the argument.
The neighbour, who sometimes works as a driver, is married with one child. His wife is expecting a second child.
Shahriqal was last seen playing with his brothers - Syahfuddin, eight, and Syahrizam, six - outside their house at around 6.30am on Friday.
Their mother Saminie Rawel, 24, realised that the toddler was missing only when she wanted to feed him but could not find him. She alerted the police, who have classified the case as murder.