A Belgian fugitive wanted for manslaughter was nabbed Friday morning while napping on a bench at 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 officers and agents from multiple law-enforcement agencies converged around him.
"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 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 City, 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 (HSI) 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.