Homeless man arrested after death of US student in Italy

Posted at 6:44 AM, Jul 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-05 08:56:20-04

ROME (AP) — Italian police have detained a homeless man in the death of a 19-year-old American student whose body was found in the Tiber River in Rome two days after his credit card had been used in Milan.

Police on Tuesday identified the suspect as Massimo Galioto, a 40-year-old from Rome. In a statement, police said he was taken into custody because he was "seriously suspected of aggravated homicide." No further details were immediately available.

Police on Monday pulled the body of Beau Solomon from the Tiber. The student from Spring Green, Wisconsin, had last been seen early Friday morning at a pub, shortly after arriving in Rome for an exchange program at John Cabot University, an English-language university in the Italian capital.

The Italian news agency ANSA said preliminary autopsy results indicated that Solomon had suffered injuries consistent with a fall and with days spent in the water. The exact cause of death remains to be determined.

John Cabot University had said it was alerted by Solomon's roommate, who reported that he had lost contact with Beau around 1 a.m. Friday and was worried when Solomon didn't show up for orientation later Friday morning.

Solomon had just completed his first year as a personal finance major at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. One brother, Jake Solomon, described Beau as an athlete who successfully battled cancer for years as a child.

Cole Solomon, Beau Solomon's 23-year-old brother, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Monday that his brother's body was found with a head wound and blood on his shirt. He added that thousands of dollars were charged to his brother's credit card after his disappearance. He didn't immediately respond to AP requests for comment.

Italian state TV said 1,500 euros (about $1,700) were run up on Solomon's credit card at a Milan store on Saturday, hundreds of miles (kilometers) away from where he was reported last seen in Rome. The TV report said investigators will check security cameras near the store for possible images of who might have used the cards.

It wasn't immediately clear if police believed the detained suspect himself used the credit card in Milan, made the purchases remotely or if someone else used the card in Milan.

Without citing sources, ANSA said two Italians claimed to have seen a man throw a person into the Tiber the night that Solomon disappeared.

Sky TG24 TV also said the witnesses reported seeing someone pushed into the Tiber near Garibaldi Bridge. That bridge is heavily trafficked, and an annual summer fair featuring artisans selling wares and booths offering food is drawing big crowds nightly.

On Tuesday, the U.S. ambassador to Italy, John Phillips, pledged assistance to Italian authorities investigating the death.

"My heart goes out to his family and friends," Phillips said.