Two suspects believed to have killed three people over $600 last week in La Crosse County have been arrested.
According to a criminal complaint filed Thursday, Nya Kou Thao, 33, Holmen, and Khamthaneth Rattanasack, 41, address unknown, carried out an execution-style shooting of Nemo Yang and Peng Lor, both 24 with ties to the La Crosse area, and Trevor Maloney, 23, with recent addresses in Cashton and Sparta.
Rattanasack and Thao were arrested in separate locations late Wednesday and early Thursday. They have a bond hearing in La Crosse County Circuit Court scheduled for Friday.
The three victims were found July 23 at the entrance to a quarry in the town of Hamilton. La Crosse County Sheriff Jeff Wolf said during a Thursday press conference that the arrest of the two suspects was the result of “excellent work of numerous investigators” from multiple jurisdictions.
“Investigators worked tirelessly to bring resolution and arrests in the case,” Wolf said. “The agencies cannot be commended enough for the great work they have done and the work yet to take place.”
Investigators got a quick break in the case after a witness came forward the following day. According to the complaint, the witness told police that the three victims were staying at the Baymont Hotel in Onalaska. During the early morning hours of July 23, the witness said she and the victims were on their way from the South Side of La Crosse to her employer, Holiday Inn Express in Onalaska, when a Black Mercedes Benz began to follow her vehicle around 2 a.m.
The witness said she pulled into the Holiday Inn and briefly went inside. When she returned, she said a person she knew as “Kush,” later identified as Thao, entered her vehicle and sat in the back seat on the driver’s side and that Yang had moved to the front passenger seat.
She identified Rattanasack, who she knew as “Black,” as the driver of the Mercedes and said he was holding a gun. She was instructed to follow the Mercedes as Thao gave her directions to the quarry located on Hwy. M.
The witness said everyone exited the two vehicles at the entrance of the quarry, where Rattanasack ordered the three victims to get on their knees and crawl toward the gate. She said Rattanasack then gave the gun to Thao, who shot all three victims multiple times. She said Rattanasack and Thao got in their vehicles and left and allowed her to return to her vehicle and drive away from the scene.
Wolf said investigators don’t know why the suspects spared the woman’s life.
The complaint says police received another tip from a witness in Minneapolis, who said the homicide was over $600. The witness told police that Rattanasack believed Yang had stolen $600 from him after his credit card was taken and swiped. The witness told police he was willing to pay the $600 even though he didn’t believe Yang stole the money. When the witness made the offer to Rattanasack, he said Rattanasack replied that he didn’t want the money; he wanted Yang’s life.
The complaint says the Minneapolis witness told police that Yang, Lor, Rattanasack and Thao were all friends.
The black Mercedes was later found abandoned in eastern Brown County. Rattanasack was taken into custody Wednesday around 8:30 p.m. at an Amherst residence by the Portage County Sheriff’s Office after he reportedly fled a traffic stop.
Thao was apprehended around 1:45 a.m. Thursday at a residence in Wausau. The La Crosse County Sheriff’s Office, Marathon County Sheriff’s Office, Wausau Police Department, Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation and U.S. Marshall’s Service took part in the arrest.
Wolf said investigators are still sorting out the relationship the victims and suspects had with each other. He said investigators believe some of the victims and suspects were members of True Asian Bloods and Crazy Hmong Boys, known to be rival gangs.
Wolf said he didn’t know if there would be additional arrests and that the case remains under investigation.
From Tribune files: Life in the La Crosse area in the 1950s
1951: La Crosse Central High School
1951: YMCA at Seventh and Main streets
1954: Triangle Cafe
1954: Estell Tall Fashions
1954: Howards Clothes
1954: Crescent Jewelers
1954: Tom's Speedometer Shop
1954: YMCA basketball
1954: 5 and 10-cent Store fire
1955: La Crosse Beauty School
1956: Christmas shoppers in downtown La Crosse
1956: Central High School Memorial Day assembly
1957: Jackson Plaza
1957: Old Style newspaper advertisement
1958: 1st National Bank
1958: State Bank of La Crosse
1958: Heat exchanger plant
1958: American Legion parade
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