Ten years today...
That's how long St. Petersburg Police Cadet Kelly Rothwell has been missing and presumed murdered by her then- boyfriend, David Perry in their Indian Rocks Beach home on March 12th, 2011. She had planned a girl's night on Friday night with a friend. Kelly had no sooner got there when Perry texted her.
"I love you", he texted. "You look really pretty tonight, " he continued..... Kelly, who had dated Perry for 3 years decided she had finally had enough of his OCD, his obsessive controlling behavior and his meddling in her relationships with her family, her friends and co-workers. She told him to leave her alone. She had planned a nice evening with her friend; they were invited to join a party at one of her colleagues houses. As Kelly and her friend made their way to the parking lot to go to the grocery store to get some wine and snacks. Kelly noticed a dark blue Honda in the parking lot,
"That's Dave," she told her friend. Perry was sitting in the parking lot, stalking Kelly. Her friend was alarmed because now Perry knew where she lived.
"He must have followed me, " Kelly said. Kelly walked right up to the car and asked Perry what he was doing there. She told him to leave, that she would see him on Saturday. He was angry , but left. When Kelly and her friend proceeded to the store, Kelly saw his car in the parking lot. They both decided to take the wine back to her friend's house and stay in. Going to a party would have been impossible with Perry following her.
The next day, Kelly and her friend went to Chili's Restaurant and had lunch. They discussed her moving out of her condo, leaving Perry. Kelly had already lined up a house to live in with friends from the Academy. Her friend was really scared of what Perry would do when Kelly got home and she told her so.
As Kelly said goodbye to her friend after lunch, her friend begged her to let her either follow Kelly or go with her when Kelly went to confront Perry. Kelly said it would all be ok. They hugged and Kelly drove home. Her friend never saw her again.
That afternoon, the downstairs neighbors heard what sounded like banging on the floor above where Kelly and Perry lived. Then it grew quiet and they heard the vacuum cleaner running. Perry was extremely OCD and vacuumed several times a day. Sometime later that early evening, Perry drove off in his blue Honda and headed for his Elmira, New York home, where his daughter was living. Along the way Kelly's friend received a very strange text that definitely did NOT fit Kelly's style of speech. People started to worry as Perry called John Riesback , Kelly's then lead instructor at the St. Pete Police Academy, asking where she was. Riesback's spidy sense kicked in and he knew immediately something was wrong,. He refused to give Perry any information. Perry hung up on him.
On Sunday, Kelly was supposed to meet up with friends at Caddy's Waterfront, a popular beach bar on Sunset Beach,. Kelly never showed. Her colleagues called her friend who knew instantly that Perry had killed Kelly, She called the Pinellas County Sheriff's office for a welfare check. When the sheriffs got to Kelly's there was no answer to the door knock. The sheriffs broke the door in and immediately were hit with a strong chemical odor... bleach. The place was spotless...it had been wiped clean and Kelly was gone. She wasn't just gone... she was missing.
Throughout the years I have consistently said that David Perry waited for Kelly to come home that Saturday, assaulted her as she got in the door and in all probability strangled her. I also believe he took her body, wrapped it in the plastic shower curtain liner, put in it a canvas sail bag that housed his large kite sail, put her in his trunk and drove her to New York, where he knew the Pinellas County Sheriffs would never think to look. He called a friend, Sammy Karim, that he used to work with at Elmira Prison when they were both Corrections Officers. There are phone records that prove this. Sammy had a lakefront family house on Seneca Lake, one of the deepest lakes in the country. At its bottom it's 633 ft deep.. the sheriffs patrol with sonar and there are always boating accidents where the victims are never found.
Perry was seen driving his car on old Rt 17,now Interstate 86, an access route that along with Rt 14 offered a scenic route to Seneca Lake. Perry knew the lake well; he had often been a guest of different friends who had summer houses there. The temperature on Sunday, March 13th, 2011 was 32* with a high of 34 and a low of 30. Those kinds of temperatures could easily keep a body cold enough, especially in the trunk of a car. I called an acquaintance who drove up to the lake that Sunday to see if Karim's family boat had been moved off of the trailer they kept it on. There was no way to know, however.. it snowed that Sunday at the lake, enough to cover the ground and hide any tire tracks that might have been evidence.
Now it's been ten years since Kelly's murder. One original Pinellas County detective retired and another moved to another division. Now after all these years, there is a Cold case Detective, Chris Lyons, who has had some lauded success in solving cold cases. Kelly's couldn't get much colder.. I still maintain she is in New York and that Perry somehow managed to put her body in Seneca Lake, weighted down by the many Geodes that Kelly used to collect.. heavy 1/2 cut stones with crystals inside. They were missing too from her condo and never found.
So Kelly Rothwell, a sweet, kind, funny, smart woman has never been found and probably never will be. After a few brushes with the law, including Grand Larceny and Fraud resulting in jail time, David Perry is free to walk the earth. He knows what he did.. he knows he killed Kelly. But he has proven he has no soul and will never talk to the police. He has stalked other women, he has been abusive to his own family and still he walks free, while Kelly's friends and family are left still asking for answers.
I've tried to keep interest in her case out front and center, but it seems the case is at a standstill. Anything the Pinellas County Sheriffs office might find in an investigation won't be shared with the media, unless it could help the case. The Rothwells haven't been updated.. in fact they never were the whole time the case was active and in the press's limelight. Nancy Rothwell, Kelly's mother was left in the dark during the initial invest.. I sincerely hope that the Cold Case detectives stay connected with her so she knows that Kelly is NOT forgotten.
She's not forgotten here, on this blog or in the many posts on Facebook and Twitter.
Nancy sent me a beautiful sentiment today. She said:
"Kelly always had beautiful words of wisdom about the power of love, life and living.
Our hearts will always be filled with the brightness she brought to our lives.
May her light shine bright above us all. "
Her sister Kristen said as much:
"It breaks my heart that it has been 10 years full of our family's changes, memories, hurts and joys that were all stolen from Kelly.
We remember her spirit and her heart everyday but especially today.
We miss her in every moment, She deserves justice. She deserves peace."
A family has been waiting 10 years for justice for their daughter and sister to have justice while her killer walks free.
10 years too long.
Meanwhile, Kelly Rothwell is still missing.