A northern Minnesota man defied a no-contact order, pushed a woman to her death down the stairs of the home they shared before rounding up a couple of friends to put the body in a makeshift grave and burn it, according to charges filed against the three defendants.
Marchello A. Cimmarusti, 40, of Bemidji, was charged in Beltrami County District Court with second-degree murder of Rose Downwind, 32, who was missing until her body was discovered last week, nearly two months after her death.
Downwind was the granddaughter of American Indian Movement co-founder Dennis Banks. Cimmarusti is father to at least three of Downwind’s five children, according to state court records.
Charged with aiding Cimmarusti in the clandestine burial of Downwind’s body were Christopher J. Davis, 27, of St. Paul, and Brandon J. Rossbach, 31, of Bemidji. Cimmarusti and Rossbach remain jailed, while Davis has yet to be arrested.
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.
According to the criminal complaints against the defendants:
Police were notified on Oct. 25 that Downwind had not been seen for several days and that she was “in an abusive relationship” with Cimmarusti, who had been charged earlier that month with assault and ordered to have no contact with her.
Cimmarusti initially told police that he didn’t know where Downwind was, but on Dec. 9 acknowledged that the two argued on Oct. 20 in the Bemidji home where they had lived together, prompting her to try and take a cellphone photo of him violating the no-contact order.
However, Cimmarusti said he pulled the phone out of Downwind’s hand and pushed his shoulder into her, sending her down concrete stairs.
He saw blood coming from Downwind’s mouth and detected no pulse. “He knew that she was dead,” the complaint read, but he made no attempt to revive her.
Cimmarusti contacted Davis, his cousin, in the Twin Cities and asked for help. Davis drove to Bemidji, saw Downwind’s body downstairs and went for help. He returned with Rossbach and another man.
Downwind’s body was put in an SUV by Cimmarusti and Davis. Accompanied by Rossbach, the three drove up Hwy. 89 and stopped near a trail in the woods northwest of Bemidji.
Davis and Cimmarusti dug a hole and put Downwind’s body in the shallow grave. They surrounded the body with Styrofoam cups and plastic shopping bags, then lit the body on fire.
Cimmarusti led authorities to Downwind’s body last week.