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 .