Man to be charged with first-degree murder in connection with rape, death of 93-year-old - Omaha.com
Published Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 8:25 am
Man to be charged with first-degree murder in connection with rape, death of 93-year-old

A teenager will now face first-degree murder charges in connection with the rape and death of a 93-year-old South Omaha woman.

Autopsy results indicated that Louise Sollowin died of complications due to blunt-force trauma to her head and body, according to Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine.

Sergio Martinez-Perez, 19, who had faced first-degree sexual assault charges, will be arraigned on the murder charges in Douglas County Court at 1 p.m. Friday, Kleine said.

The county's top prosecutor said he is charging Martinez-Perez under Nebraska's felony-murder rule, which applies to deaths that occur in the commission of another crime such as sexual assault or burglary. As such, Martinez-Perez will not face a separate first-degree sexual assault or burglary charge.

Omaha police say they found Martinez-Perez naked and on top of Sollowin. He had beaten her, sexually assaulted her and broken several bones in her face – and blood covered the room, authorities allege.

Louise Sollowin

Sollowin's relatives were reeling Thursday at her death at the Nebraska Medical Center the day before – four days after the attack carried out by a man she did not know.

“Her body was so completely beaten up,” Joe Sollowin III, Louise's son, said Thursday. He said he had figured his mother would live forever, as she was one of the few in the family who never touched alcohol or cigarettes.

“My mother was a saint,” Joe Sollowin said. “This is beyond words. ... It's horrendous.”

Louise Sollowin spent 50 years helping her sister fire up the oven at Orsi's Italian Bakery, where her love of the family business kept her going well into her 80s. She worked at the bakery until about 10 years ago, when her weakening eyesight forced her to retire.

Sollowin baked and cleaned, chatting almost exclusively in Italian with her sister, Frances Orsi, whose husband, Claudio, ran the bakery for decades. Sollowin's husband, Joe, did the books.

“I grew up there,” Joe Sollowin said. “Family's family. You helped out no matter what.”

Sergio Martinez-Perez, 19, beat and raped Sollowin because he had been drinking much of the previous night and was “angry with women,” a prosecutor told a Douglas County Court judge Wednesday.

Martinez-Perez told police that he beat and raped the victim, the prosecutor said.

Police said they found him in the house, where Sollowin had lived for 71 years. When they arrived, Martinez-Perez was nude and on top of Sollowin in her bedroom. There was blood on the walls and ceiling. On the floor and on the bed.

Judge Thomas K. Harmon ordered Martinez-Perez, who is charged with first-degree sexual assault, first-degree assault and burglary, held without bail.

Martinez-Perez, who has no permanent address, told Harmon through an interpreter that he has been working in the area as a roofer.

Sollowin's family said a detective told him that Martinez-Perez had been living in Omaha for four months.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has asked the jail to hold him, an official there said. That is often an indication that the federal agency is questioning an inmate's immigration status. Authorities had not released Martinez-Perez's immigration status as of late Thursday morning.

Martinez-Perez entered the woman's home at 1921 S. 10th St. through an unlocked door, the prosecutor said. He allegedly beat and raped her before falling asleep on top of her about 9 a.m.

Sollowin's daughter, who had returned to live with her mother earlier this year, heard Sollowin's calls for help and found the man when she went to investigate.

“My mom pushed him away from her,” granddaughter Teresa Hartzell said.

Hartzell said her mother could not believe someone was in the house. She thought it may be a dream.

“It was just such a brutal and senseless thing,” Hartzell said, recalling the memories inside the home.

Hartzell remembered the boisterous conversations that are often the hallmark of large Italian families like hers.
“A lot of memories,” she said of the home on 10th Street.

She paused.

“Not so good ones now.”

World-Herald staff writer Kevin Cole contributed to this report.

Contact the writer: Maggie O'Brien

maggie.o'brien@owh.com    |   402-444-3100    |  

Maggie is a cops and breaking news reporter for Omaha.com.

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