Last Tuesday night, on July 12th, about 15 people, some strangers on the beach, gathered in front of Kelly Rothwell's condo to commemorate her beautiful spirit, talk of her kindness and mourn the loss of a gentle soul, lost to violence.
With a ring of fresh orange flowers, Kelly's best friend Donna Scharrett spoke of Kelly's light and positive energy within the circle; others placed flowers and orange candles in the circle's center, the candlelight radiating as the sunset's light faded.
For four months, there has been no word from Kelly Rothwell; the only suspect in her disappearance, David Perry, in now in Hawaii with his new girlfriend, Melissa Walker, a woman he said he met on Craig's List two weeks after Kelly went missing. Perry, who moved back to Elmira, New York the same day Kelly went missing, is uncooperative with police , refuses to provide a DNA sample and has consistently mocked and ridiculed Kelly's friends and family, taunting them on Facebook.
So what do we know? What are the facts of this strange case that has galvanized many communities from all over the US, who have been riveted by it's salaciousness?
We have Kelly Rothwell, a sweet, spiritual woman loved by many, who was kind, trusting, a month away from graduating as a police officer so she can help people. She met David Perry and lived with him for three years in a condo in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida.
We have David Perry, who has a long and dark history of domestic abuse and a quick and volatile temper. Interviews with people who know him call him arrogant and manipulative.
FACT: On March 12th, 2011, Kelly had lunch with her best friend Donna Scharret, with whom she had a spiritual connection and a deep friendship. During that lunch, Kelly told Donna that she was breaking up with Perry; he was controlling, manipulative and extremely possessive and jealous. Donna also witnessed this behavior first hand herself. Kelly leaves sometime around 3:15 p.m. to drive the approximately 35- 40 minutes home to Indian Rocks Beach.
FACT: Kelly leaves Donna and heads home to break up with Perry. She had recently made arrangements to rent a small home of a friend. She tells Donna that she wants to "help" Dave get through this. She says this because she believes he will be upset and she wants to help him with the transition. According to Donna, she is at peace with her decision and declines Donna's offer of help, telling her it will be all right.
FACT: Kelly goes home on March 12th ,2011 and is never heard from again, with the exception of a strange text message, sent to Donna, that contained odd syntax and misspellings. Donna is suspicious; the text message mistakes are not like Kelly, who has a Masters Degree and is clearly educated above the level the text message seems to indicate. After repeated unanswered calls to Kelly's cell phone, Donna calls the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Sunday morning, March 13th, 2011. Officers drive over to the condo that morning around 10 a.m. No one is there and knocks to the door go unanswered. Police interview downstairs neighbors Ken and Mary Williamson, who report that they heard loud banging noises at approximately 4:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. followed by silence then the sound of vacuuming. Williamson tells police that Perry vacuumed at least 4-5 times a day, a fact confirmed by Perry's ex wife Luana Greenfield.
FACT: David Perry leaves Indian Rocks Beach driving for Elmira New York that same night, March 12th, 2011.. He arrives sometime on Monday and accepts a call from Lauren Rothwell, who asks him where Kelly is. Lauren reports he is rambling, saying maybe Kelly left for Utah, or was with her new "friend". He sound evasive and Lauren finally hangs up on him.
FACT: There are documented domestic abuse reports in the Family Court of Chemung County, New York, in the town of Elmira against David Perry. Elmira is a small town whose main employer is the Elmira Correctional Facility.
FACT: Perry worked at Elmira Correctional as a Corrections Officer until October of 2003 before leaving on a questionable disability claim.
FACT: On June 14th, 2011Perry was arrested and charged with two counts of Felony Grand Larceny and Insurance Fraud, stemming from that alleged injury claim on October 10, 2003 in which he states that he was injured trying to help subdue a prison fight. The injury claim is that he fell back against the prisoner's bed and hurt his back. Perry spends five days in jail before bonding out, standing in front of Judge Martin Smith, or Broome County New York.
FACT: There is clear evidence that Perry was not involved in the altercation in which he claims to have been injured. Corrections Officers who were at the scene attest to the fact that Perry never even made it to the fight, which was quickly subdued by three officers who arrived on Cell Block I, where the fight took place.
FACT: Police interview Perry's ex-wife Luana, who states that Perry was incredibly abusive and also abused drugs. She states that while they were married, Perry grew marijuana in their basement, even though he was a Corrections Officer for the prison. On one of the domestic abuse calls to the Perry home, the responding officer allegedly finds the marijuana growing in the basement. There is no record of an arrest. However, when Perry is asked to give a drug test, he threatens Luana and forces her to give her sample in an empty Tylenol bottle. Perry passed the test, it is believed, by submitting his wife's urine for his own.
FACT: Also during interviews with Law Enforcement, Luana reports that Perry has a serious case of OCD and that it negatively affected their home life while they were married. She also reports that Perry was abusive to both her and their three children, Davey, Britney and Brandi, often hitting them and yelling at the family if the house was not cleaned or kept to his standards. Luana also reports to authorities that Perry often threatened to kill her once throwing her against a table while she was pregnant. Luana also told authorities Perry used to "choke her out" often until she lost consciousness. He also threatened her with killing the couple's children. She further states that he told her many times that he "could kill her and they would never find her body".
FACT: Perry, who was working at Outback Steak House during the same time he was collecting disability, is fired for attempting to "choke out" a cook who didn't cook his food correctly. According to people who worked with him, Perry was arrogant and pushy, often coming on to women, even when his then live- in girlfriend Ann was sitting at the bar of the restaurant.
FACT: David Perry refuses to answer any questions from authorities about Kelly Rothwell.
FACT: Two weeks before Kelly went "missing", Perry cancels his gym membership at a local gym. He tells people there that he is "moving to Hawaii with his girlfriend" never mentioning Kelly.
FACT: Perry's Broome County lawyer, John Scanlon, appears before Judge Martin Smith and asks that Perry, a suspect in a missing person's case and also charged with Felony Grand Larceny, to grant Perry leave to fly to Hawaii for a month to see his new girlfriend Army Specialist Melissa Walker. The Judge agrees with the stipulation that Perry stay in touch with his lawyer.
FACT: A voice-mail message from the A.D.A. prosecuting Perry's fraud case calls me and acknowledges that she is aware that Judge Martin has allowed Perry to leave New York for his Hawaiian vacation. She states that she has not presented the case to the Grand Jury yet and acknowledges that there are possible federal charges pending as well, because Perry is also receiving Social Security Disability from the Federal Government.
While David Perry kite-surfs the waves in Hawaii with his new girlfriend Melissa, Kelly Rothwell's family, friends and supporters wonder when there will be justice for Kelly.
When will there be justice for Kelly Rothwell? When will there be justice for a life cut way too short, justice for a woman who wanted only to help people, who loved life and all of the spirit of it? When?