Authorities said Thursday that they believe a body found in a shallow grave northwest of Bemidji is that of a 32-year-old woman who has been missing for nearly two months.

Personnel with the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) and others removed the burned remains from the “clandestine grave” in a remote wooded area northwest of Bemidji, police said.

The remains are believed to be those of Rose Downwind, a mother of five from nearby Redby, Minn., who has been missing since Oct. 19. Downwind was the granddaughter of American Indian Movement co-founder Dennis Banks.

An autopsy is being conducted by the Ramsey County medical examiner’s office. Bemidji and state authorities have said that foul play is suspected in Downwind’s disappearance.

Police had sought the public’s help in finding two men from Bemidji, Marchello Anthony Cimmarusti, 40, and Brandon Joseph Rossbach, 31.

Cimmarusti and Rossbach were jailed this week in Downwind’s disappearance on suspicion of second-degree murder and suspicion of aiding and abetting second-degree murder, respectively. Charges are pending.

Cimmarusti is the father of at least three of Downwind’s children, according to state court records, and her ex-boyfriend.

He turned himself in at the Beltrami County jail on Monday and confessed to killing Downwind, Bemidji Police Chief Mike Mastin said during a news conference Thursday. Cimmarusti then told authorities where her body was buried, Mastin said.

A third man, from the Twin Cities, is characterized by police as a “person of interest” in Downwind’s disappearance.

Relatives had not heard from Downwind since Oct. 19.

Dwa Weston, a relative, thanked those who volunteered to search for Downwind and said the family is grateful to have some closure. “This is not the ending that we hoped and prayed for,” she said.

 

paul.walsh@startribune.com 612-673-4482 liz.sawyer@startribune.com 612-673-4686