Man found dead in car in rural Grafton was shot

Authorities investigating murder of Texas resident found in rented vehicle that had been burned off Highway C
Ozaukee Press staff

A 49-year-old man found dead in a car Saturday morning in the Town of Grafton “traveled quite a bit” and whose last known address was in Texas was shot, authorities said this week.

The body of Laeng Sanavongsay was found by a Sheriff’s deputy patrolling the area at about 9:30 a.m. Saturday. The late model white four-door Chevrolet Malibu was in the east ditch of Highway C south of Tallgrass Drive in the Town of Grafton, according to the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Office.

The car has a Michigan registration and was rented in Illinois.

Lt. Chad Eibs declined to say whether the car was rented in Sanavongsay’s name.

Investigators believe the car was parked at the scene the night before.

Evidence at the scene suggested the interior of the vehicle had been on fire for a short period of time before it extinguished itself, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Eibs said Sanavongsay’s last known address was in Texas but that family members told investigators that he “traveled quite a bit and had ties to several states.”

Eibs declined to elaborate on the reasons for his travels, adding that it is not believed Sanavongsay was a hitchhiker and that there was a second car at the scene the night before.

“It is believed that the suspect(s) in this case knew or had a connection to the victim,” a press release said.

“We believe the location was chosen because the perpetrator believed that it was a rural area,” Eibs said.

Sanavongsay did not have any ties to Ozaukee County, a Sheriff’s press release said. An autopsy conducted Tuesday at the Milwaukee Medical Examiner’s Office determined that Sanavongsay died of a gunshot wound.

Eibs declined to comment on the nature of the gunshot wound or other details from the scene, saying the investigation is ongoing.

“The Sheriff’s Office is working with our state partners and have also reached out to our federal partners as this investigation involves several states,” the press release stated Tuesday.

The Sheriff’s Office is seeking information or eyewitnesses regarding the Malibu or other cars or people traveling in the area Friday night.

“It appears this was an isolated and targeted incident” and there is no danger to the general public, the Sheriff’s press release said.

Saturday’s incident is the second roadside murder in the county in a little over two years.

Cedarburg resident Joshua Terry was found shot to death on the shoulder of I-43 in the Town of Port Washington the evening of Oct. 30, 2020.

His murder remains unsolved.

Investigators believe an altercation between Terry and another person may have occurred shortly after a minor accident between the two on the freeway.

A $10,000 reward being offered by Terry’s family for information leading to an arrest is still in effect, Eibs said Tuesday.

Anyone with information in either case is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at (262) 284-7172.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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