Body recovered, two men held in Bemidji woman's death
A body believed to be that of a missing Bemidji woman was recovered Wednesday, and two local men have been arrested in connection with her death.
Rose Downwind, 31, had been missing for nearly two months. A 50-day investigation carried out by Bemidji police, the FBI, the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and other agencies caught its first break Monday, when Downwind's ex-boyfriend walked into the Beltrami County Jail and turned himself in.
In a press conference Thursday morning, Bemidji Police Chief Mike Mastin said the man had confessed to killing Downwind and told the authorities where her body was buried.
"A body has been located and exhumed from a clandestine grave northwest of Bemidji," Mastin said. "We believe it to be the body of Rose Downwind, but an autopsy must confirm that."
Mastin said the shallow grave was roughly a mile down ATV trails from the nearest main road. He said there was evidence the body had been burned.
The Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office will perform an autopsy to confirm the identity.
• Previously: Bemidji police ask for help finding missing woman
Mastin said the ex-boyfriend was arrested and will likely be charged with second-degree murder.
Another man was also arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting second-degree murder. Both men were to be arraigned and charged Friday.
Family members had said Downwind was last seen Oct. 19, leaving the Target store in Bemidji.
Later, her ex-boyfriend said he'd seen her Oct. 21, leaving his house on Stoner Avenue in Bemidji. Mastin now says he believes that was a story to throw off the investigation. Other evidence, he said, suggests Downwind was killed Oct. 20.
Downwind is the granddaughter of American Indian Movement co-founder Dennis Banks. Downwind's cousin, Dwa Weston, said Thursday the family is grateful to have some closure.
"It's bittersweet," she said. "We really wanted a different resolution. You always hold out hope. But we have an ending here and hopefully we will have justice."
Weston said Downwind had been abused by her ex-boyfriend, and that his arrest was not a surprise.