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Rosa was last seen at 7:30 a.m. on March 24, 2008, when she walked her first-grade son to Bernard Elementary School in the 2900 block of Bernard Street, in the Loma Portal area of San Diego, California. Her other children were waiting for her at home, a short walk away. Rosa never arrived home and has never been heard from again. Rosa left behind her money, her wallet, and identification; she took only her house keys. She was anticipating a $30,000 disability settlement from a grocery store, which she never collected. Her adult son reported her missing.
Rosa and her husband, Henry, were in the middle of a heated divorce at the time of her disappearance. They had been married for eight or nine years, but during most of that time they lived apart. Rosa had just been awarded custody of their two children, and Henry was ordered to pay over $1,000 a month in child support beginning April 1. A hearing was also scheduled for April to determine whether Henry was being truthful about the state of his finances. Authorities later discovered he had under-reported his assets by $1.3 million.
The Lisowskis' relationship was contentious and Henry had allegedly threatened to make Rosa "disappear." He also told her if she didn't drop her child support demands, he would kill her. Her loved ones stated she had been afraid for her life for about a year and a half, and that she kept detailed notes of Henry's threats. Police focused on Henry from the onset of the investigation. He had scratches on his arms, back and face when they first interviewed him. Authorities searched his home, boat and car, and quickly named him as a person of interest in Rosa's disappearance. Rosa and Henry's two sons, age six and four, were placed in protective custody shortly after Rosa's disappearance. They were eventually given to the care of maternal relatives.
In September 2008, Henry was arrested and charged with Rosa's murder. A photograph of him is posted below this case summary. Traces of both Henry and Rosa's blood were found in Henry's Lexus, and Rosa's blood was on Henry's kitchen counter as well. Police believe he put her body in a dumpster in an alley near the Mount Hope area. In a letter to police, and later at his trial, Henry admitted Rosa was dead but denied killing her. He said she accidentally fell down a flight of steps outside his home and sustained a head injury, and he tried to take her to the hospital but she had a seizure and died on the way. Henry stated he decided not to contact authorities and instead dumped her body in a trash bin near the Mount Hope neighborhood. He said he panicked because he thought he would be blamed for Rosa's death.
Henry was convicted of murder in March 2010, with the special circumstance of financial gain; prosecutors theorized he murdered his wife to avoid his child support obligations. He was facing a mandatory term of life in prison without parole. On March 25, before he could be formally sentenced, Henry committed suicide in jail by taking an overdose of antidepressants.