Body found in shallow grave; 2 arrested for murder in Rose Downwind's disappearance
BEMIDJI, Minn. -- Two men have been arrested for second degree murder in the disappearance of a Redby, Minn., woman and a body has been recovered from a shallow grave northwest of Bemidji.
Marchello Anthony Cimmarusti, 40 and Brandon Joseph Rossbach, 31, both of Bemidji, were arrested for second degree murder in connection to the case of Rose Downwind, 31, who was last seen Oct. 19. Rossbach was also arrested for aiding an offender after the fact.
During a press conference Thursday, Bemidji Police Chief Mike Mastin said Cimmarusti turned himself in Monday night on an outstanding warrant and later told police where Downwind's body was located. The warrant was issued after Cimmarusti missed a court appearance on a domestic abuse charge and also for violating a no-contact order.
Rossbach was arrested late Wednesday evening, according to the Beltrami County Jail website.
Originally, police and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension had listed Lake Bemidji State Park and Buena Vista State Forest as places of interest in the search for Downwind, a mother of five.
The body recovered Wednesday, however, was found at another location northwest of Bemidji.
A 4-foot deep grave was discovered a mile off of Balsam Road and 300 yards away from an ATV trail mid-afternoon Wednesday, Mastin said. A Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension crime scene team was called in to assist. The body was sent to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy and to confirm the identity.
During Thursday's conference, Mastin said there was an indication a burning had been involved, but did not specify if Downwind's body was burned.
Mastin said investigators believe Downwind was killed Oct. 20 and that the body was then taken to the spot of the shallow grave.
In late October, Cimmarusti told police he last saw Downwind leaving a residence on Stoner Avenue in south Bemidji on Oct. 21. When asked if he still believed Cimmarusti's statement regarding the Oct. 21 date, Mastin said, "with the information that we have now, no."
Cimmarusti is Downwind's ex-boyfriend and they have children together, according to Downwind's family members.
Both Cimmarusti and Rossbach are scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Beltrami County District Court. In early November, Cimmarusti and Christopher John Davis, 27, were named as persons of interest by police. Mastin said Thursday that Davis remains a person of interest and the case still is under investigation.
In Minnesota, second degree murder carries a maximum of 40 years in prison, while aiding an offender carries a maximum of three years in prison. Second-degree murder means there was an intent to kill, but the act was not premeditated.
'Sadness in our hearts'
Also appearing at Thursday's press conference was Dwa Weston, Downwind's cousin and family spokesperson, who said, "we come to you today with great sadness in our hearts. This is not the ending that we had hoped and prayed for.
"We wish to thank the many, many searchers, supporters and law enforcement agencies for the countless hours they have put into finding Rose. Although we are hurt, we have peace knowing that Rose is with the Creator and that she will never be hurt again," Weston said. "In her honor, we ask that you pay attention to other missing persons cases. There are a lot of people who go missing every day. Many don't get the closure that we've had. We ask for your continued prayers as the family and the children move forward through this tragedy and as we move forward toward justice."
Since Downwind was reported missing, multiple events were held as showings of support and aid to the family. On Oct. 29, about 100 people gathered in south Bemidji for a candlelight vigil along Stoner Avenue and on Nov. 14, more than 100 volunteers searched for Downwind north of Bemidji.
A Facebook page, originally titled Help Find Rose Downwind and now called Justice for Rose Downwind, has also been set up as a way to show support for the family.
Downwind is also the granddaughter of American Indian Movement Co-founder Dennis Banks. In early November, reality show television bounty hunter Duane Chapman donated $10,000 as a reward for information that would have led to Downwind's safe return.