It's been four long years since St. Pete Police Cadet Kelly Rothwell went missing after going home after lunch with a friend on a Saturday afternoon to tell her then boyfriend David Perry that she was breaking up with him.
She was never heard from again.
Perry took off for his hometown of Elmira New York in a rush later that Saturday and has never answered questions about Kelly's disappearance, nor granted a police interview. Neighbors who lived below the couple reported hearing several loud thumps on their ceiling, then frenetic vacuuming before Perry left hurriedly. Three months later he married Melissa Walker, an Army Reservist he supposedly met on Craig's List, meeting her briefly in Hawaii to marry her, take her last name, then return to Elmira New York. Walker divorced Perry a year later, but not before defending him as a "sweet, kind and caring, thoughtful person."
Kelly was much more than a missing police cadet; she was a sister to Lauren, Lindsay and Kristen, daughter to Nancy and Tom, Aunt to Alex, Hollie and Hannah, ex-wife to Doug, and countless friend to so many... those who grew up and went to school with her in Maryland, those she worked with and was friends with in West Virginia and Colorado and the people whose lives she touched in Florida... Kelly had an impact on so many.
Today the Pinellas County Sheriff's office is no closer to finding Kelly than they were 4 years ago. A perfunctory search of the local area led to little clues and it always boggled everyone that there was not a more strident and thorough search done. After all, Kelly was one of their own, a fellow cadet, soon to be a graduate and out among her peers. But a breakfast held for her to raise money to pay for additional search and rescue efforts fell pathetically flat: and only one of her fellow cadets bothered to even show up.
I have and will always maintain that David Perry, laying in wait for Kelly to come home, killed her as she entered their shared beach-front condo and then, after a frantic cleaning of the condo including bleach and antiseptic chemicals, took Kelly's lifeless body, put her in a canvas sail bag, placed her in the trunk and took off WITH her body to Elmira, New York, his hometown.
Many people including local law enforcement here in Florida have denigrated this idea, theorizing that NO ONE would drive ALL the way to New York with a body in the trunk. But I think he did; he knew that if there was NO body, there was NO case, at least in Florida. And he was right. He was a former Corrections Officer at a prison, he knows the ropes, knew not to answer ANY questions and ran like a coward when approached by law enforcement. He went back to an area he knew very well, places where he had hunted and fished all his life. I believe Kelly is up there. I believe that she is somewhere on or near the Catherine Trail, a place that Perry was known to have frequented AFTER he moved back home. According to sources, he went there OFTEN.... Being a control freak and OCD sufferer, Perry likes to control every situation and this would be no different. He had a friend with a boat on Lake Seneca, it was his bailiwick and he KNEW that Florida law enforcement had neither the manpower nor the belief that he could ever do such a thing... drive with the body of the woman who was his 'soul-mate"... the "love of his life" etc etc.
I would bet the farm he did just that. And he's getting away with it.
But not TOTALLY away.. he sits in a jail cell at Clinton, in upstate New York, convicted on Work Comp related fraud charges in two different counties. Sadly although both convictions were a triumph for New York law enforcement, (who by the way, ALL think he killed Kelly and some believe that he brought he up there as well,) Perry received two sentences that were concurrent instead of consecutive. He has at least two years and maybe more before he is eligible for parole.
This is NOT enough time served for a psychopath that killed a beautiful, talented, spirited and loved woman named Kelly Rothwell. Who knows? I know that NO strain of conscience will suddenly make him confess; he has neither soul NOR conscience. He has a violent past, a history of abuse to family, wives and girlfriends. How poignant it is to me that Kelly wanted to make domestic violence a concentration in her law enforcement career.
So today we sadly commemorate another year gone by without Kelly Rothwell in this world. Her mother Nancy sent me this:
"On this day, March 12, the fourth anniversary of my beautiful daughter Kelly's disappearance, I weep in silence. Four long years of not being able to feel her warm embrace, not being able to have a mother/daughter chat on the phone, hear her adorable giggle or just catch up on what's going on. Kelly was a loving daughter, a caring sister and aunt and a devoted friend to many. She was always a radiant light bringing incredible joy and happiness to her family and friends. This world most definitely lost a wonderful person that day, but what gets me through this wrenching loss is that I know she is one of God's most precious angels... a quote from Rose Kennedy, a mother who suffered many losses in her lifetime-
'It has been said that 'time heals all wounds'... I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.' "
I heard a song today on the radio by James Blunt, called Carry You Home..I thought of Kelly through tears. I pray that her spirit is never forgotten.
"Carry You Home"
Friday, March 13, 2015
Thursday, February 26, 2015
David Perry, the only suspect in the disappearance and probably murder of St. Pete Police Academy Cadet Kelly Rothwell has plead guilty in his second trial for fraud and grand larceny in Steuben County New York Court today. Perry was sentenced to 4 1/2 -12 1/2 years to run concurrently with the Broome County sentence of 4-15 years. Unfortunately, Steuben District Attorney Brooks Baker was unable to get the consecutive sentences, which would have kept Perry in jail for a much longer period of time.
Perry also forfeited all of the vehicles AND the more than $120,000.00 seized when he was re -arrested at his Elmira home March 13,2012 a year and a day after Kelly went missing and he presumable killed her.
The duplicate set of charges stemmed from a 2003 Work Comp related accident in which Perry claimed to have been injured while helping to subdue a prisoner. The offenses were prosecuted in both counties because the NY State Pensions Fund was located in one, and the bank where the money was deposited from the Pension Fund was located in the other.
But what does this mean for the Pinellas County Sheriff's investigation into Kelly's disappearance? When I called to speak to Det. Mike Bailey, I was told he had retired and the case now belonged to Det. Amy Plourde, who had partnered with him on the case from the start 4 years ago. As of this writing I am waiting for a call back from Det. Plourde as to what, if any, developments have may have surfaced to help find Kelly or the person who, in all probability, murdered her.
Detectives in New York, who worked tirelessly on getting Perry convicted on the fraud charges all think that Perry killed Kelly Rothwell, but without a body as evidence, the chances are very slim that Perry would ever be brought to trial for her murder. They had tried to provide the Pinellas detectives with as much information about Perry's movement once he got to New York as they could. According to a source, that information was either not utilized or not followed up on with much conviction; whether it was time or distance, no one can be sure.
Craig Mosher, a retired C.O. who worked with Perry and was a catalyst in bringing Perry's fraud to authorities attention had this to say;
"I hadn't heard much about him lately , but this (conviction) is good news. Unfortunately, he will never say a word about Kelly or what happened to her. He's not that stupid. He knows that if he keeps quiet and they never find her, he'll get away with it."
I have always maintained that Perry took her body to New York him the night he killed her in the condo they shared on Indian Rocks Beach. After a lot of research, my conclusion is based on the fact that he is a control freak; a narcissist who always wants to be in command of any situation. I think he took her to New York because he knew the Pinellas County Sheriff's office had neither the manpower or the resources to look for her up there. And really, where would they even start? Perry WAS tracked to Ohio and Oklahoma by NY State police. But where he went after that is a mystery. Could he have met up with his old friend Jeff, an ex correction officer ,who had a major drug conviction and was living in Arizona? Could he have had help from any of his other friends in Elmira? One of them has a house on Lake Seneca; that lake is 623 feet deep... he has a boat.. he and Perry worked together at the Elmira Correctional Facility. According to sources, Perry called him when he got into Elmira later that night, AFTER he had left Florida in a huge hurry, shortly AFTER Kelly Rothwell came home on March 12, 2011 to break up with him.
And what about the moving receipts that were found among Perry's papers? Apparently he has paid upwards $6000.00 to a moving company earlier in the week to move his belongings to... where???? Could this be what he had planned all along? Lying in wait for Kelly when she got home, planning on killing her... knowing that as a police Cadet she had probably found out about some sort of illegal activities, things that Kelly had alluded to one of her sisters in a conversation the year before,.. Canceling his gym membership the week before, telling the manager he was "moving to Hawaii"... then Melissa Walker comes into the picture, a National Guard reservist who just coincidentally is being relocated to .... Hawaii... a girl he met on Craigslist, who he marries just three months after Kelly's "disappearance"?
Melissa Walker divorced Perry in July of 2013.
Nancy Rothwell, Kelly's mother admits while Perry's conviction isn't exactly closure for her, at least it's something that will adversely affect Perry's life.
"Any time anyone has to forfeit money at least it will have an impact his life. I'm just grateful that he has been in prison for this long.. I appreciate the time that he's been where he is.. at least he can't hurt anybody else right now, " Nancy said. She was also surprised to learn that Det. Mike Bailey has retired and Det. Amy Plourde was now running Kelly's case.
"I've been very disappointed that there has been so little communication from them (the Pinellas County Sheriff's department). I haven't heard from ANY of them in three years, no updates, nothing!" Nancy said. "It would have been professional of them to at least send me a letter or a text or to get a phone call from them about Kelly's case and Detective Bailey. I don't even know what the status of the case is at this point. I feel sorry if other Pinellas County families are going through what ours is if this is how they treat the families of missing people. I know they have my home number, my email address and my home address. But in three years, nothing!"
Nancy is normally a very quiet, private person and her frustration was very evident in her voice as we spoke on the phone today. "A little communication would be professional. The one time I went down to the Sheriff's office, I got up the nerve to voice my opinion and Det. Plourde promised that she would call me with updates, and stay in touch. I never heard from her again..."
On March 12, 2015, it will be 4 years since Kelly Rothwell went "missing"...and it seems that police are no closer to finding her or what happened to her than they were 4 years ago.
As of the time of this posting I still have not heard back from Det. Plourde.
5:57 PM :An update: Nancy Rothwell just sent me a text that she called the Pinellas County Sheriff's office and was told that Det. Bailey was transferred to patrol? I was told by an officer on the phone this afternoon that he retired. Det. Plourde was sitting in the room and could hear my conversation. Hmmmmmm....
Someone out there knows something, heard something, saw something.
Kelly Rothwell needs to come home.
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Kelly Rothwell would have been 39 today... she would have been excelling in her chosen career of law enforcement and domestic violence issues. Kelly would be doing what she did best; caring, helping, advising those who needed it, whether it was a push to leave a bad relationship or securing an undisclosed place to live safely with children. She would have been the one on the front lines, trying to change the often insane world of family violence that is so pervasive today. She would have made such a difference in so many people's lives.
Instead, Kelly Rothwell is missing and presumed murdered by David Perry, her boyfriend at the time. David Perry is an abuser, a controlling manipulative sociopath that Kelly was trying to leave at the time of her disappearance.
As Kelly was going through the St. Petersburg Police Academy in the early spring 2011, she was looking forward to graduating and beginning a new career. As a cadet she was exposed to all of the different modes of law enforcement and, according to her instructors, she seemed to find her calling in the domestic and family issues... she became passionate about being an advocate for the abused and mistreated and planned on making that her concentration. After being constantly controlled and manipulated by Perry, Kelly recognized that she herself was also, in essence, a victim and decided to do something about it. She decided to leave David Perry... she never got the chance.
Three weeks before graduation from the Academy, Kelly went home after lunch with a friend to break up with Perry. She was never heard from again. Her Academy books and class notes were found in the dumpster behind her condo. Kelly was gone.. just gone.. and David Perry, who often described her as "the love of my life" took off for his hometown, Elmira, New York and refused to answer any questions about Kelly's "disappearance."
Now 4 years later we are no closer to finding her. David Perry is locked up in Clinton, an upstate prison in New York, often known as "Siberia", for felonies related to his Work Comp fraud case, a case that New York detectives worked incredibly hard to prove.. and finally did. They all believe that he's guilty of murdering Kelly Rothwell. The Pinellas County Sheriff's department, who is handling the case in Florida, seems no closer to resolving this case.
Today family and friends of Kelly Rothwell are remembering her on this, her 39th birthday. They are remembering her wonderful, wide smile and her gentle heart. They are remembering her incredible kindness, her generosity, her silliness and squeaky laugh.
But her mother Nancy said it best when she wrote this to me this morning:
"My thoughts are never far from Kelly. I miss our chats, I miss her beautiful smile, I miss her contagious giggle. I miss everything about her, but always try to focus and remember all of the fun times, all of the good and heartwarming memories that can never be taken away. I remember how blessed I am to be Kelly's mom and how blessed we all have been to have had Kelly in our lives. She had a knack to brighten the cloudiest days. She was such a wonderful daughter, sister and aunt and loyal friend to countless others. Her spirit lives on and on. Happy 39th Birthday, my beautiful sweet girl!"
Happy Birthday Kelly.... please know that you are NOT forgotten and that you are missed.
If you have any information that could lead to the whereabouts of Kelly Rothwell , please call the Pinellas County Sheriff's office at 727-582-6200 .