A well-rested Belgian fugitive wanted for manslaughter got nabbed Friday morning while napping on a bench at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, after having spent Thursday night on the couch of an unsuspecting University of Pennsylvania graduate student he met on the social media website Couchsurfing.com, federal authorities said.
Vincent Didler Jean-Marie Gilbert Simonon, 32, went quietly after he was converged upon by officers and agents from multiple law-enforcement agencies.
“Fugitives who commit egregious crimes in their home country should not expect to find refuge in the U.S.,” said Marlon V. Miller, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations-Philadelphia.
Simonon is wanted in Belgium for alleged intentional manslaughter in the slaying of his neighbor Christiane Darimont and the concealment of her body in late July or early August, federal authorities said. On Aug. 11 he flew from Dusseldorf, Germany, through Amsterdam, to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, they said.
During a week in Philadelphia, authorities said, he used a fictitious name to create a Couchsurfing account and stayed at various times with three people whom he met on the service. He last stayed with the Penn grad student, whom authorities did not name.
After receiving information Thursday from the Homeland Security Investigations Brussels office that Simonon was likely in the Philadelphia area, HSI special agents and task force officers tracked him to the station, aided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Amtrak Police, the Philadelphia Police Department, and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. An extradition request had been made by the Federal Public Service of Belgium.
“As a result of the close cooperation between U.S. and Belgium authorities, the suspect has been arrested and will be safely returned to his native country to face justice,” said Bryan McPherson, assistant special agent in charge with Homeland Security Investigations-Philadelphia.
Authorities do not know why he came to Philadelphia, McPherson said in an interview.
Simonon was turned over to the U.S. Marshals Service, whose officers will take him to New York where the extradition proceeding will take place, McPherson said.