Details Emerge in Downwind Killing; 2 Appear in Court

Details Emerge in Downwind Killing; 2 Appear in Court, Warrant Issued for Third Suspect

This article has been reprinted in its entirety courtesy and with full permission of The Bemidji Pioneer. The article was written by Matthew Liedke and was originally published on December 11th, 2015.

BEMIDJI — New details emerged in court documents Friday regarding the disappearance and death of Rose Downwind, with two suspects now charged and a warrant issued for a third person involved.

During an arraignment Friday, Marchello Anthony Cimmarusti, 40, was charged with the second-degree murder of Downwind, a 31-year-old mother of five, while Brandon Joseph Rossbach, 31, was charged with aiding an offender.

An arrest warrant also was issued Friday for Christopher John Davis, 27, of St. Paul, who also faces a charge of aiding an offender.

In the criminal complaints made public Friday, Cimmarusti detailed how Downwind died Oct. 20 after he pushed her down the stairs at a house in Bemidji and how he, Rossbach and Davis burned and buried her body in a shallow grave northwest of the city. Police discovered the grave and exhumed the body on Wednesday.

Friday’s arraignment was an emotional scene, with many courtroom rows filled and multiple members of Downwind’s family wearing shirts featuring a picture of her. At one point a man was ordered by law enforcement to sit down and when Cimmarusti was being charged a person shouted “death penalty!”

Cimmarusti, Downwind’s ex-boyfriend and father to some of her five children, told investigators after he turned himself in Monday on an outstanding warrant that Downwind died after a situation had “spun out of control” at a house at 101 Stoner Ave. in Bemidji, according to the criminal complaint.

Cimmarusti told police he and Downwind were arguing and he attempted to pull Downwind’s cellphone away from her because she was going to call police to say he had violated a domestic assault, no-contact order. When Cimmarusti eventually pulled the phone out of her hand, he also pushed his shoulder into her and as a result, Downwind fell down a case of cement stairs and landed at the bottom, the complaint states.

Upon checking Downwind, Cimmarusti said she was bleeding from the mouth, did not have a pulse and that he knew she was dead. He did not try to revive her, he told police.

Cimmarusti then contacted Davis, his cousin who lives in St. Paul, and asked him to help get rid of the body, according to court documents. Davis agreed and drove to Bemidji from St. Paul. Accompanying Davis was Marciano Guerra. After looking at Downwind’s body, Davis left the residence and returned with Rossbach, the documents said.

In the criminal complaint against Rossbach, who was arrested Wednesday, it alleges that an Internet search of “how hot does a fire have to be to burn through bone” was discovered on Davis’ cellphone. Additionally, law enforcement obtained a surveillance video showing Rossbach and Davis purchasing and carrying Styrofoam bowls and cups out of Walmart at 12:38 a.m. on Oct. 21.

Davis and Rossbach then returned to the Stoner Avenue house with the items, as well as with a gas can with gasoline, the complaints state. Cimmarusti, Davis and Rossbach then traveled on Highway 89 for a distance before going off on a trail in a wooded area to dispose of Downwind’s body.

Cimmarusti and Davis dug a roughly 4-foot hole and placed Downwind’s body in and added the Styrofoam and a board from the basement floor where Downwind had landed. Cimmarusti and Davis then lit the fire and all three stayed at the site for about two hours before covering the hole. Cimmarusti told investigators that Rossbach stood by and justified their actions by saying “it was for his children.” Cimmarusti said he and Davis then gave Rossbach a ride back to his residence at an area resort and returned to the Stoner Avenue house at about 5:30 a.m.

In speaking to law enforcement, Guerra, who stayed behind and looked after Cimmarusti’s children, said Cimmarusti and Davis were gone all night and that when they returned they looked tired, were acting odd and smelled of the outdoors. Guerra also denied seeing Downwind in the home from Oct. 20-21. Guerra has not been charged in the case.

A few days later, on Oct. 25, a missing person report for Downwind was filed with the Bemidji Police Department. The report also made note that Downwind had been in an abusive relationship with Cimmarusti and that on Oct. 7, he was charged with domestic assault and the domestic assault, no-contact order was issued against him.

When first speaking with police, Cimmarusti said Downwind had stayed at his home at 101 Stoner Ave. on Oct. 20 and that he didn’t know where she was, but had seen her voluntarily getting into a blue vehicle Oct. 21. Law enforcement also spoke to Davis early in the investigation, and he said he hadn’t seen Downwind at the Stoner Avenue house on Oct. 20-21. His cellphone later was confiscated as evidence, the complaint states.

Cimmarusti’s story changed, though, when he turned himself in Monday and spoke with investigators. On Wednesday, Cimmarusti took law enforcement officials to where Downwind’s body had been burned and buried.

Investigators from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension next went to the scene and recovered the body before sending it to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s office for an autopsy. On Wednesday evening, Rossbach was arrested.

During Friday’s arraignment, Cimmarusti was charged with second degree murder while Rossbach was charged with aiding an offender. Later in the afternoon, a warrant was issued for Davis’ arrest, also for aiding an offender.

Bail was set at $1 million with conditions for Cimmarusti, such as having no contact with Rossbach or Davis, not leaving the state, no carrying firearms or weapons and the surrender of a passport if he has one. Bail was set at $1.5 million without conditions.

For Rossbach, bail was set at $500,000 with conditions similar to those for Cimmarusti and $750,000 without conditions. The next court date for Rossbach is Dec. 21 and Cimmarusti’s is Feb. 1. The maximum penalty for second degree murder is 40 years in prison while aiding an offender carries a maximum of 20 years.

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