Italian police have arrested a homeless man in the murder of Wisconsin college student Beau Solomon, reports WBAY-TV and CBS News.
Massimo Galioto, a 40-year-old homeless man from Rome, is the man under arrest, said WBAY-TV, quoting Italian police. The Wisconsin TV station said that, according to police, Galioto was arrested because he was “seriously implicated” in Solomon’s death, although authorities did not give specific details. The Istanbul Daily News gave the same report.
Beau Solomon, 19, was a University of Wisconsin-Madison student who had arrived in Rome hours before his death as part of a study abroad program. He disappeared after going to an espresso bar with friends. Police said previously that they believed his death was the result of a robbery because his wallet was missing and his credit card had been charged in Milan, according to the Italian news agency, ANSA. ANSA reported July 5 that police were also considering the possibility of an argument:
Robbery or an argument are possible motives investigators are looking into, sources said.
On July 5, the Italian news agency reported that police are still seeking the robbers, and that they believe other men robbed Solomon, although they suspect Galioto of murdering him.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Man Under Arrest Is a Native of Rome & Homeless
According to ANSA, Massimo Galioto is a Roman native who is 41-years-old. ABC News and many other American news sites says he is 40. Quoting sources, the Italian news agency said that Massimo Galioto is being accused of “aggravated homicide.” Blasting News, an Italian publication, said that Galioto was “seriously suspected of aggravated murder for trivial reasons.” The news site said Solomon disappeared after he left to go to the bathroom. Italian news site Oggi names the prosecutor as Marcello Monteleone.
ANSA, the Italian news agency, reported previously that two witnesses had told police they saw a group of people throw Solomon into the Tiber River, where his body was found July 4. ABC News said the witnesses had reported seeing “a man” throw a person into the Tiber. Solomon had been missing since Thursday, June 30. ANSA said previously that Solomon had a head wound that may have been caused from the fall into the river after being pushed. According to ANSA, the body believed to be Solomon’s “was dumped into the river and probably suffered a fatal head wound on his way down into the river.”
WKOW-TV reported that $1,500 was charged to Solomon’s credit card. ABC News quoted Italian state television as saying the amount was $1,700 and that the charges were run up at a store. ABC said police were checking security cameras.
U.S. Ambassador to Italy, John R. Phillips released a statement that referred to Solomon’s death as “tragic,” ANSA reported:
I was saddened to learn of the tragic death of Beau Solomon. My heart goes out to his family and friends. The U.S. Embassy stands ready to provide support to Italian authorities investigating his disappearance and death.
Italian news site Roma Today said Solomon’s body was found “stuck in the reeds into the Tiber at Ponte Marconi” and that police had “that very night” been called to a fight that “broke out on the river bank.” Although Solomon’s roommate has denied he was drinking, Roma Today said, “Some people in the room, however, define the two “a little ‘tipsy.'”
2. Police Are Still Seeking Other Suspects & Say Galioto May Not Be the Person Who Robbed Solomon
ANSA reported on July 5 that witnesses have now told police that Solomon was “was drunk and staggering when two other people accompanied him to the embankment near Ponte Garibaldi and took his credit card early on Friday.” There have been contradictory news reports as to whether Solomon was pushed into the river by one person or more. However, ANSA reported that police now believe Galioto murdered Solomon but two other men robbed him.
The Italian news agency said that police believe Solomon was pushed into the river “after a row” with Galioto. Solomon was also kicked twice, the news agency said.
The news agency reported that “There was no connection between Galioto and the two men who robbed Solomon, police said, but they are seeking the pair among the homeless people who camp out in Trastevere along with him.”
Beau Solomon was an inspirational teenager who survived cancer.
Solomon’s brother, Jake Solomon, told WISC-TV that Beau Solomon had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer when he was a child, undergoing surgeries and chemotherapy. Fox News says the cancer battle lasted 10 years. ANSA reported that Solomon had suffered from eye cancer.
Indeed, as a child surviving cancer, it had been Solomon’s wish to meet the then-Green Bay Packers quarterback. A 2005 story on Packers.com says that Beau was “one of 15 Make-A-Wish children this year to find his name on his own jersey in his own locker next to Brett Favre’s in the Packers’ locker room.” His wish was granted.
Beau Solomon’s family told WKOW that he had taken two semesters of Italian and was looking forward to studying abroad. The news site also reported that Solomon was a high school athlete. Beau had just finished his freshman year in college, the news site says. In high school, reports WKOW, he played basketball, golf, and football, making all-conference as a quarterback for the River Valley High School football team.
According to Fox 6 Milwaukee, Beau Solomon was a personal finance major at UW-Madison, the flagship school in Wisconsin’s university system. Solomon wanted to be a politician and was involved in Badger Boys State Camp.
3. There Have Been Other Incidents of American Students Running Into Trouble in Rome
ABC News said that a student from the United States was previously “allegedly stabbed by his roomate.” Both were students at John Cabot University, the school that Solomon was in Rome to attend through a study abroad program. The student lived.
In another incident, an American student died in Rome when he fell off a “low, street-side wall where people sit at nighttime.” He was found dead on train tracks after being reported missing after he left a bar and was hit by a train, ABC said. And, of course, there is the infamous Amanda Knox case.
4. There Was a Candlelight Vigil for Beau Solomon In His Wisconsin Hometown
A candlelight vigil remembering Beau Solomon was held in Spring Green, Wisconsin, where he was raised. The hundreds who attended walked a lap around the football field where he used to play, WTMJ-TV reported. Despite his earlier health challenges, Beau Solomon was a well-known and sociable high school athlete, who was an all-conference quarterback for his high school football team. WKOW-TV said Solomon started for two years at quarterback, making all conference as a senior.
Head football coach Tim Eastlick told the news station that Solomon’s character stood out the most.
Even when we were down he would try to get teammates to rally around him. I think that’s one of those everlasting memories I will have of him and his playing time.
WISC-TV said about 200 people attended the vigil on the football field at River Valley High School, where he had played. Beau Solomon was a personal finance major at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said NBC News.
5. Friends of Beau Solomon Expressed Their Pain on Social Media
Many people were moved by Solomon’s story of survival from cancer and his personal character. They took to social media to express it after his body was found. They included UW-Madison’s Chancellor Rebecca Blank.