International manhunt tracks Green Bay sex assault suspect to Laos
An international manhunt stretching from Green Bay to Southeast Asia has ended following the arrest of a suspect wanted for sexually assaulting a woman in a Green Bay alley.
Jimmy Choumemany, 28, appeared in front of a Brown County judge Tuesday on a charge of 1st Degree Sexual Assault - Use of a Dangerous Weapon. The court ordered him held on a $500,000 cash bond.
Choumemany was arrested in Laos in October and flown into Detroit early in November. He waived his extradition to Green Bay and arrived at the Brown County Jail late Monday night.
Authorities in Laos helped the U.S. government in locating and arresting Choumemany.
"We knew he entered into South Korea around July 24th through passport data we got from FBI and Department of Homeland Security," said Lt. Rick Belanger, Green Bay Police Department. "Once he exited the plane in South Korea, so to speak, we have no idea where he went because there's a lot of countries out there who don't treaty with Interpol."
Choumemany was wanted for a July 22 sex assault in downtown Green Bay. Police say he approached a woman in an alley, knocked her over, sexually assaulted her and ran off. The victim did not know Choumemany prior to the assault.
Cameras in the area captured a man on a bicycle. Police posted the images on Facebook and relatives were able to identify the man as Jimmy Choumemany.
By the time police identified him, Choumemany was overseas.
Green Bay Police reached out to the FBI. Lt. Belanger then got a call from the State Department offering their assistance. The feds reached out to their contacts in Southeast Asia.
"They had different agents in Thailand and also through the State Department out of Washington, they had some people that work out of the Laos embassy," Belanger says. "And this is the kind of thing they specialize in. With the cooperation of the Lao Police out there, they set up some surveillance and they located Jimmy, knowing that he had a federal warrant for his arrest."
Belanger cannot recall a case in which the Green Bay Police Department has had to rely on federal agencies to do what he calls "the unimaginable"--finding a local suspect in another country.
"Outside of a homicide, I think a sexual assault for a female is probably the most traumatic thing to survive," Belanger says. "And for this victim, it was important to us, not only for her, but the people he may reoffend with, that we locate him and get him off the streets not only of Green Bay, but he has to answer to these charges, to this victim, and he needs to be back here to do that. And having the cooperation of these many agencies that helped get him in custody, I think it saves more victims."
Police are investigating Choumemany for other cases in and around Green Bay. One of those cases is a home invasion in which a woman woke up to a man touching her stomach. She screamed and he ran away.
The FBI sent out notices to offices in other ports of entry to see if they had similar crimes that were unsolved. They did not get a response.
There's a lot of Choumemany's background that remains unknown. That includes his citizenship status. Officials have been unable to determine if he was born in Laos or in Chicago.
"It's pretty clear by the timetable that this guy knew what he did was wrong and got out of here as quick as he could to go into some big time hiding," Belanger says. "To get on the quickest plane out of Green Bay to go on an international flight, I think he went out of Chicago, and get to Korea, through Germany ... It's kind of a process."
The U.S. Marshal Service handled extradition and costs will be covered by the federal government. Costs are estimated at over $10,000.