Rothwell Reward Increased on One-Year Anniversary
Kelly Rothwell, who lived in Indian Rocks Beach and was last seen in Clearwater, has been missing since March 12, 2011. Rewards of $50,000 are being offered for information on her whereabouts.
It has been exactly a year since Indian Rocks Beach resident and St. Pete Police cadet Kelly Rothwell disappeared.
On Monday, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office announced a $25,000 reward for information that leads to Rothwell's whereabouts. The reward is in an addition to $25,000 offered recently by the Rothwell family.
At a news conference Monday morning, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri gave an update on the Rothwell case, which he said was "extremely frustrating with very limited information."
The sheriff's office provided photos and details on the investigation in hopes the information would jog someone's memory and they would contact the sheriff's office. No detail is too small, Gualtieri said.
"It's an extremely important case. We want closure for the family. We want closure for Donna and Kelly's friends," Gualtieri said.
Both Gualtieri and Rothwell's friend Donna Scharrett said they believe Rothwell is dead, although there is very limited physical evidence in the case. Scharrett said she wants to find Rothwell's remains and get them to her mother.
"Kelly Rothwell is dead, and her body is out there. Her body is out there dumped like a piece of trash, and she doesn't deserve that. Nobody does," Scharrett said.
Anyone who might have information on Kelly Rothwell's disappearance is encouraged to call the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office at 727-582-6200.
The events in the Rothwell case began a year ago today:
March 12, 2011
Rothwell, 35, was last seen around 3:30 p.m. March 12, 2011, at Chili's restaurant on U.S. 19 in Clearwater, where she and Scharrett had lunch. It was at that time that Rothwell told Scharrett she planned to go to her Indian Rocks Beach condominium to break up with David Perry, her 46-year-old live-in boyfriend.
About 5:20 p.m., Scharrett received a text message from Rothwell's phone.
"Based on the language and nature of the messages, we don't believe the messages were from Kelly," Gualtieri said. "The phone was last used in the area of Ulmerton Road and 119th Street" in Largo.
At 6:30 p.m. that evening, Rothwell was scheduled to pick up keys for another residence, since she was going to end the relationship with Perry, Gualtieri said. She didn't show up.
Perry, a retired New York state prison guard, left Indian Rocks Beach before midnight that night and headed to Elmira, NY.
March 13, 2011
On March 13, Scharrett called the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and asked them to check on Rothwell. Scharrett was concerned about Rothwell's safety because of the domestic issues the couple had been experiencing, Gualtieri said.
When sheriff's deputies arrived at the residence at 2708 Gulf Blvd, they found no signs of Rothwell or Perry.
"We found the home almost too clean," Gualtieri said. "There was no presence of blood."
Both of their vehicles were also gone. Later on March 13, deputies found Rothwell's vehicle about two miles south of her residence, Gualtieri said.
"Kelly's clothes and personal effects were in the vehicle. We did an extensive search of the area and found no physical evidence. What we did find that was highly unusual and suspicious was Kelly's police academy binder and notes in the Dumpster at the complex. That's contrary to everything we know about Kelly," who was doing well and due to graduate in April, Gualtieri said.
Later in March 2011
On March 14, Perry was found in Elmira, and he declined to cooperate or make statements to New York authorities. The sheriff's office learned Perry told family members "this is going to get bad," Gualtieri said.
The next week, Perry traveled from New York to Ohio and Oklahoma, and back to New York on March 21. New York authorities inspected Perry's vehicle and reported a strong odor of chemical agents in the vehicle. There was no blood or female DNA in the trunk. Gualtieri said DNA denigrates after contact with chemical agents.
Summer 2011 to Present
In June 2011, homicide detectives named Perry a suspect in Rothwell's disappearance. Throughout the investigation, Rothwell's family and friends told detectives that Rothwell would not have run away, Gualtieri said.
Perry has failed to acknowledge detectives' requests for interviews about the night of March 12.
Rothwell's friends have created a petition on change.org seeking to require the National Crime Information Center to include information for missing adults aged 21 and older. Currently, the database includes information about missing persons aged 20 and younger.