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Wauwatosa man charged in killing of ex-girlfriend

Jan. 25, 2010
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By Tom Kertscher of the Journal Sentinel

Jan. 25, 2010 0

Wauwatosa — A man being sought by police confessed that he killed the mother of his young daughter - perhaps in front of the toddler - and then drove around with the woman's body in his car for four days, according to court documents released Monday.

As the search for Benjamin M. Germano entered its fifth day, the 32-year-old Wauwatosa resident was charged Monday with first-degree intentional homicide in the death of Sarah Rosio.

The body of the 24-year-old Milwaukee woman wasn't found until last Thursday, in a storage unit in West Allis, triggering the search for Germano.

According to a criminal complaint and a search warrant document filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court:

Germano told two friends Thursday that he killed Rosio eight days earlier, on Jan. 13, at his apartment. He said the 5-foot-3, 100-pound Rosio attacked him in front of their daughter, and "I just snapped, I lost it."

Germano told one of the friends that he strangled Rosio, which is similar to a felony charge he faced in 2008. The medical examiner determined that Rosio died of strangulation.

Germano had contacted the friends hoping they would pick up the toddler. He said he wanted a safe place for her before he was arrested.

The toddler lived with Germano at his apartment in the 6700 block of Vista Ave. in Wauwatosa; Rosio lived in an apartment in the 600 block of N. 4th St. in Milwaukee.

On the same day that Germano allegedly confessed to the murder, a manager at the Sentry store at 6700 W. State St. in Wauwatosa told police that a BMW, later identified as Rosio's, had been in the parking lot since at least Jan. 13 - the day she was killed.

Allegations of strangulation were made in at least one of the domestic violence cases brought against Germano.

Online court records show that:

• Five restraining orders, including at least one obtained by Rosio, were filed against Germano in the past 15 months.

• Germano was ordered last month to have no contact with a person identified as "Sarah R." in connection with a pending disorderly conduct case.

• Germano was charged in 2008 with choking Sarah R. The case was dismissed after she didn't appear at his trial to testify.

The most recent series of legal actions started with the disorderly conduct incident Dec. 12.

Two days later, a person who is not identified in the court records obtained a two-week domestic abuse restraining order against Germano.

On Dec. 16, Germano was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct in connection with the Dec. 12 incident. He was ordered by a judge to have no contact with "Sarah R."

On Dec. 28, the person who obtained the restraining order requested an injunction that would extend the order. The request was denied by Milwaukee County Family Court Commissioner Dean Zemel.

Last Wednesday, Germano appeared in court and was appointed a county-paid attorney for the disorderly conduct case. The next night, Rosio's body was found in a storage unit on the property of City Screen Print and Embroidery, 1910 S. 81st St., in West Allis.

Earlier in 2009, a harassment restraining order was obtained against Germano on Oct. 5 and a domestic abuse restraining order was filed against him April 15. In both cases, the person obtaining the order is not identified and a request for an injunction to extend the order was denied.

In 2008, domestic abuse restraining orders against Germano were obtained Nov. 3 and Oct. 16. The Nov. 3 petitioner is not identified, but the Oct. 16 petitioner was Rosio. In both of the 2008 cases, no injunction extending the restraining order was granted because the petitioner did not appear in court.

Germano was charged with strangulation and suffocation while armed, a felony, in connection with a Nov. 27, 2008, incident.

Germano was ordered in that case not to have any contact with "Sarah R." The charge was dismissed on the day of trial, last March 2, when Sarah R. did not appear in court to testify.

Homicide suspect sought

Benjamin M. Germano, 32, might be driving a black, four-door 2001 Toyota Corolla with Wisconsin license plates 144 KJV.

Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call Wauwatosa police (414) 471-8430 or a local police department.

Tom Kertscher thumbnail
About Tom Kertscher

Tom Kertscher is a PolitiFact Wisconsin reporter. He covered the Steven Avery case, which is featured in "Making A Murderer," and has authored two sports books: "Cracked Sidewalks and French Pastry: The Wit and Wisdom of Al McGuire" and "Brett Favre: A Packer Fan's Tribute."

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