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.
Scharrett said the women had a girl’s night out on Friday and then Rothwell stayed at her house in Palm Harbor. They had frozen pizza and a couple of glasses of wine over laughs.
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 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 time because he has refused to cooperate with law enforcement officials in Pinellas County or New York.
Rothwell’s green 2007 Subaru Outback was later 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.
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