By [url=mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]Maggie O'Brien[/url] and [url=mailto:email@example.com]Emerson Clarridge[/url] / World-Herald staff writers
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.
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 III, Louise's son, said Thursday. “Family's family. You helped out no matter what.”
Sollowin's relatives were reeling Thursday at Louise's death. The 93-year-old woman was sexually assaulted and pummeled Sunday in her bed by an intruder, according to Omaha police.
She died Wednesday at the Nebraska Medical Center, four days after the attack carried out by a man she did not know.
“Her body was so completely beaten up,” Joe Sollowin said. 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. She worked at the bakery until about 10 years ago, when her weakening eyesight forced her to retire.
“My mother was a saint,” Joe Sollowin said. “This is beyond words. ... It's horrendous.”
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.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said he is considering charging Martinez-Perez with first-degree murder under Nebraska's felony murder law, which applies when a victim dies during the commission of another felony, such as sexual assault.
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.
“Not so good ones now.”
World-Herald staff writer Kevin Cole contributed to this report.
By: Detroit Iron
In: Regional News
Tags: Orsi's Italian Bakery, Nebraska Medical Center, Sergio Martinez-Perez
Location: Omaha, Nebraska, United States (load item map)
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