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Suspects arrested in La Crosse Co. triple murder, allegedly motivated by $600 debt

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The murders of three men at a La Crosse County quarry reportedly were the result of a $600 debt owed to one of the suspects, who recently got out of prison.

The three victims were forced to kneel on the ground, before being shot multiple times.

La Crosse County Sheriff Jeff Wolf spoke about the homicide investigation Thursday, hours after the separate arrests of two the suspects in central Wisconsin, since early Wednesday night.

The suspects, Nya Thao of Holmen and Khamthaneth Rattanasack of the Wausau area, were brought to the La Crosse County jail by midday Thursday and are being held without bond, pending a court appearance Friday.

Rattanasack was captured Wednesday night at a house in Amherst, near Stevens Point, after trying to flee from a traffic stop. 

Thao was found in Wausau early Thursday. 

Wolf describes the arrests below:

Wolf said the victims — Peng Lor, Nemo Yang and Trevor Maloney — were shot multiple times outside the Romskog quarry in the town of Hamilton — just north of West Salem — around 2:30 a.m. July 23.

Thao, also known as “Kush,” is believed to have been the shooter, according to a female witness who was with the victims the night of the murders.

The witness told investigators that she and the victims were followed by a black Mercedes Benz to an Onalaska hotel where they were staying. She briefly left her car. When she came back, the two suspects were in the car with her. She was told to follow the Mercedes, which took them to the quarry.

Wolf said the shootings apparently were motivated by a $600 debt owed by Yang to Rattanasack, also known as “Black,” who had just gotten out of prison.

Wolf describes the murders below:

Thao and Rattanasack were publicly identified as the suspects earlier this week, and the investigation involved federal and state officials, along with police and sheriff’s officers from several Wisconsin counties.

Both men are being charged with three counts of 1st degree murder, along with felony possession of a firearm.

The investigation led to central and easrern Wisconsin after a black Mercedes Benz spotted at the scene of the murders was found abandoned in the Green Bay area.

Below, Wolf takes questions from media:

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.