TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- As a manhunt is underway for the controversial American 3D-printed gun activist Cody Wilson, who is wanted for allegedly sexually assaulting a minor in Texas, reports have surfaced that he signed the lease for an apartment in Taipei, which is scheduled to begin at noon today, reported UDN.
When Wilson arrived in Taipei on Sept. 6, he contacted a real estate agent in Taipei through a rental website and agreed to sign a six-month lease that is to go into effect today (Sept. 21). However, since the United States has not formally requested assistance, police have only continued to monitor his movements and notify the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), FBI, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
Wilson departed LAX on Sept. 5 at 12:10 a.m. aboard EVA Air Flight BR11 and arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Sept. 6 at 5:10 a.m. Wilson arrived in customs on a tourist visa and stated that he was visiting Taiwan for "business reasons," reported Apple Daily.
That day, he checked into the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Taipei's Songshan District and was originally booked for three days and two nights, but he suddenly checked out at noon the next day, and after swiping his car, he left by taxi. U.S. police say that Wilson has been known to frequently travel to Taiwan
Police have been tracing Wilson's whereabouts through a comprehensive investigation of hotels and traffic intersections monitors in the area and were able to contact the taxi driver who transported Wilson that day. Yesterday, police discovered that Wilson had used a rental website to search for apartments and contacted a real estate agent by email.
According to a police investigation, Wilson signed a contract with the rental agency on Sept. 19, the same day he was charged with sexual assault in Texas. He intended to rent a studio apartment for six months starting today (Sept. 21) and paid the first month of rent of NT$19,000 and a deposit of NT$18,000.
Wilson signed the contract at a rental agency located on Section 4 of Roosevelt Road and the location of the apartment he plans to rent is on Section 2, Nanchang Road in Taipei's Zhongzheng District, reported UDN. The agency said that he had not yet been given a key as he has not yet officially checked in.
The agent said that Wilson claimed to be an American student studying Chinese at a university in Taiwan and appeared to be not different from the average student, according to the UDN report.
However, on Sept. 20, after news broke in the U.S. that Wilson was wanted for the alleged sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl in Texas, the real estate agent suddenly realized that the "protagonist in the news" was the man who signed a lease with him, so he alerted the police immediately. To confirm it was indeed Wilson who signed the contract, police showed photographs of Wilson to the agent, who swore that the signatory was indeed Wilson and said that they had an appointment at 12 noon today to sign the lease.
The agent claimed that Wilson contacted him through email without leaving a telephone number or other means of contact and had no idea he was wanted in the U.S. until he saw the news. Police are reviewing surveillance footage of Wilson's visit to the rental agency to trace his subsequent movements.
The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) has informed the AIT, FBI, ICE and other relevant bureaus in the U.S., however because its American counterparts still need to go through many meetings and procedures to make a request for deportation, the CIB has not yet set out to arrest Wilson but has rather started a "preventive investigation" to locate the suspect. The National Immigration Agency (NIA) said that the U.S. yesterday had taken the initiative to inform Taiwan of the presence of a sex offender in accordance with Megan's Law.
Based on a mutual legal assistance agreement (MLA) between Taiwan and the U.S., which went into effect in 2002, the judicial units in the two countries can exchange criminal information, such as Wilson's arrest warrant and request legal assistance from the other side. After coordinating with U.S. authorities in apprehending a suspect, they can repatriate them to the U.S., in accordance with international law.
According to the Ministry of Justice, as of the end of June of this year, there have been 79 cases of mutual legal assistance between the two countries, with 71 completed.
U.S. Marshals have released the following wanted poster for Wilson's capture:
(US Marshals image)