Police Cadet Disappeared on Her Way to Break Up With Boyfriend, Best Friend Says
The last time Kelly Rothwell was seen, she was on her way home to end her relationship with live-in boyfriend David Perry. Now Rothwell is gone, and Perry has left the state, refusing to talk with police.
In January 2008, Donna Scharrett met her dearest friend, Kelly Rothwell, at an Indian Rocks Beach meditation circle. They were both searching for some peace, Scharrett said, and they developed a bond through their experience.
“Every time Kelly and I got together was memorable. We would laugh like schoolgirls. We were really silly,” Scharrett said.
Saturday, March 12, was the last time Scharrett saw Rothwell, who did not show up for training at the Pinellas Police Academy on Monday either. Rothwell is enrolled as a cadet and studies at the Allstate Center in St. Petersburg, where she had not missed a day of school since enrolling in November.
Scharrett said that she ahd Rothwell had a girl’s night out on Friday and then Rothwell stayed at her house in Palm Harbor.
They had cooked frozen pizza and drank a couple of glasses of wine. They laughed together and had a good time.
On Saturday they woke up late and headed to an empowerment qigong yoga class and then went to lunch at Chili's Bar and Grill.
Scharrett said Rothwell’s plan from there was to get home and end her relationship with her live-in boyfriend David Perry, 47, who Scharrett believes was overbearing. “He was checking her phone records, checking her emails,” Scharrett said.
Rothwell had an appointment the next day to pick up apartment keys from a friend, but Scharrett learned later that day that she never showed up.
“It was like someone knocked the wind out of me,” Scharrett said.
After repeated unanswered calls, Scharrett contacted police. When deputies arrived at Rothwell’s home on Sunday, March 13, there was no sign of her or Perry. According to investigators both vehicles were gone.
Detectives located Perry in New York. According to homicide detectives, he drove from Florida to New York State sometime between Saturday and Sunday morning.
Officials do not have a complete timeline for Perry’s whereabouts during that period because he has refused to cooperate with law enforcement officials in Pinellas County or New York.
Rothwell’s green 2007 Subaru Outback was found on Sunday, parked on 4th Avenue and 2nd Street, in Indian Rocks Beach. Her car was two miles south of her residence.
Rothwell’s family and friends told detectives that it is very uncharacteristic of Rothwell to disappear and not return phone calls.
Rothwell’s family resides in Maryland. In the Tampa Bay area, Rothwell was surrounded by friends, who became her support system, Scharrett said.
“I remember her standing in my kitchen with a towel wrapped around her head asking, ‘Did you make the tea yet?’ ” Scharrett said recalling one of the last times she saw her friend.
This case remains a missing person case with suspicious circumstances, said Det. Michael Bailey, of the Sheriff's Office Homicide Unit. Adult missing person reports in Pinellas County are investigated by the Sheriff's Office's Homicide Unit.
Scharrett’s plea to the public is for any bit of information that would lead to bringing Rothwell back and finding out what happened to her after 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 12. She stresses that any detail might be helpful.
“You may not think it is important, but it might be,” she said.