Pope Francis meets with parents of Wisconsin student found dead in Rome


Pope Francis met with the parents of a Wisconsin student who was found dead in Rome.

Beau Solomon, 19, arrived in the Italian capital on Thursday to study at John Cabot University for the summer. He was reported missing Friday night, and his body was found Monday in the Tiber River, Italian police said in a news release.

The pope met with Solomon's parents early Wednesday morning, expressing "feelings of deep sympathy and compassion" and "his closeness in prayer to the lord for the young man who died so tragically," a statement from The Vatican said.

Solomon's parents got to Rome on Monday night, and on Tuesday they met with John Phillips, the U.S. Ambassador to Italy, who said the embassy will provide support to Italian officials during the investigation into the man's death.

The investigation

Solomon, who had just finished his freshman year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, went to a bar Thursday night with friends. His roommate reported him missing the following day, reports note.

After an extensive search, his body was found in the river Monday – he had a head wound and blood on his shirt, his brother told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

According to the Italian news publication ANSA, sources familiar with the investigation said Solomon apparently drowned, noting an autopsy found water in his lungs.

Witnesses said they saw two Moroccan men rob Solomon, and then Solomon made his way down a staircase along the river where he got into an altercation with a 40-year-old homeless man, reports note.

Witnesses said Solomon was pushed into the river, while a woman who lived at the homeless encampment said Solomon was drunk and tumbled into the river after a shoving match with the 40-year-old Italian, The Associated Press says.

Italian police have detained the homeless man, who is "seriously suspected of murder aggravated by futile motives," the AP reports.

Thousands of dollars in charges were made on his credit card following his disappearance, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted.

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