Irvington, AL (WKRG) — Funeral arrangements have been made for a man found shot to death in Grand Bay. The victim comes from a family of Laotian immigrants and authorities say this is a case that has them stumped.
Somphith Khemmanivanh, also known as “Air” was found dead in his pickup truck parked at a seemingly random home in Grand Bay Sunday afternoon. Now they prepare to lay him to rest.
Thursday there will be a visitation from 2pm -4 pm at Serenity Funeral Home in Theodore. Friday is the day of the funeral service from 11 am to 2 pm. Family members have also set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for funeral expenses.
Family members are pleading with the community for answers to this crime. They have no idea why anyone would want to harm Somphith Khemmanivanh.
Deputies admit this case has them stumped. While they are still interviewing people they need help from the community. The case highlights the difficulties that can come when a major crime happens in an immigrant community.
“They’re just a very close-knit community and they don’t really encounter law enforcement a lot so they’re not real keen on talking to us,” said MCSO Captain Paul Burch. Language is the biggest challenge. When the victim’s body was discovered in this case the sheriff’s office relied on a ten-year-old child to translate. While they have deputies that know Spanish, Thai, and Vietnamese, Burch says they don’t have all the varieties of dialects covered.
“Even though they kind of live in the same general area their languages are very different and that’s something they had to learn through working cases,” said Burch. Despite the challenges, Burch says they’re optimistic about making an arrest in the long run.
“I wouldn’t say less likely that it gets solved it can prolong solving the case and in this case, for example, we have people say they don’t know anything before we finish asking the question,” said Burch.