Sunday, January 1, 2012

Kelly Rothwell: "The Law Enforcement Community in the State of Florida"

My comments on a nationally syndicated program, The Roth Show just before Christmas created a firestorm among law enforcement in Florida and in particular, within the Academy graduating class where Kelly Rothwell was scheduled to graduate and become a police officer.

As the reporter wrote after the show my words are meant to make you think and take action.  After all these years I still consider myself part of the law enforcement family.  Growing up I lived and breathed the life of a cop's kid.  Understanding and respecting, long after the murder of my mother, the inner workings within departments.  Working cases of law enforcement involved intimate partner violence as if it is a member of my own family, requiring full attention.

On March 12, 2011, during the late afternoon, Kelly musters the strength to meet her boyfriend David Perry to announce the relationship was over, she was moving out and on with her life minus him.

David Perry was the last person to see her alive.

So to the cadets, yes- I expected each of you to take the knowledge being taught at the police academy, if need be, on your own time and do everything in your power to look for Kelly.  She was one of you!

As I watched news reports from the Pinellas County Sheriff's office following the days she was reported missing, comments from the department spokesperson of "we know Mr. Perry has left the state and we are trying to get him in to talk," translated into words,in my expert opinion, not enough investigative action on the ground.

Training and investigation on intimate partner violence cases at the Academy including continuing education for law enforcement agencies must incorporate tools and techniques bringing cases to a safe, successful outcome.  They include information provided on the newly launched Website Document The Abuse.  It includes the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit, something Kelly could have prepared prior to her confronting Perry, resulting in an immediate arrest based on the fear and threats told in her own words witnessed, notarized, video tapped.

Each month I deal with hundred's of intimate partner violence cases successfully.  Those reported missing either did not know where to go and what to do or law enforcement had yet to be taught enhanced methods of training for successful outcomes.

Law enforcement no longer has the "right" to remain silent in cases of criminal domestic violence and stalking, especially when it is one of your own.

Time's Up!

Below is more on the story:

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH, Florida (Isabelle Zehnder reporting) -- The new year has brought a renewed hope that missing Florida police cadet Kelly Rothwell will be found so that her family can have closure and so justice can be served. 
After nine months of searching, police finally got a break in Kelly’s case. A woman recently saw a news report that Perry had recently remarried. When she saw his photo, she said she knew it was him who she’d seen the day Kelly went missing. She remembered the date because her mother had just passed away.
The CUE Center for the Missing organized a search this weekend. Tricia Reis, who has worked diligently to keep Kelly's story alive, said, "They are down there now. There are two places of interest they will be searching." She said one area that will be searched will be the park where the witness says she saw Perry. "They will be there through Sunday," she said. The search began Friday.
The witness said when they locked eyes he hid behind a tree. For more details read: Kelly Rothwell: After months, police get break in missing Florida woman’s case.
Kelly's very close friend, Donna Scharrett, is at the weekend search. She posted on her Facebook wall, "Humbled and amazed at the outpouring of love & support shown by so many who never had the opportunity to know Kelly Rothwell. She sees all of these people, she feels all of this love and dedication. Tiffany's restaurant in Palm Harbor donated 100 sandwiches and water, thank you."
Kelly Rothwell, 35, went missing from her condo in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, within hours of telling her best friend, Donna Scharrett, that she was on her way there to end her relationship with then-boyfriend, Dave Perry. 
Kelly’s downstairs neighbors told police they heard three thugs followed by the sound of a vacuum cleaner within an hour of her arrival at the condo she shared with Perry. Kelly was scheduled to have dinner with her fellow classmates but never made it there. She was never seen or heard from again.
Police say they believe Kelly is dead and that Perry is their prime suspect. 
Kelly's fellow classmates' promise
After Kelly went missing her classmates had a plaque made in her honor that read:
“Thank you for your dedication to our academy. We will always remember the time shared with you in class. You are forever in our hearts and will continue to be an inspiration to us throughout our careers.
“We won’t stop looking for you.” PRO #177 “CAN’T STOP, WON’T STOP.”
Two weeks ago, Intimate Partner Violence Specialist Susan Murphy Milano sent a strong message Kelly's classmates, two of whom came forward saying they were offended by a comment she made.
Murphy Milano said during a recent phone conversation that the intent of her comment was not to offend, it was in hopes of lighting a fire under Kelly’s fellow classmates, most of which have gone on to become police officers and sheriff’s deputies.
During her appearance on the Dr. Roth ShowMurphy Milano said she hoped the cadets, who have not actively helped search for their fellow classmate, would “have a rotten Christmas.”
She said, “I hope they think about their comrade, out there, somewhere, who needs to be found.”
One of Kelly’s fellow cadets, Jared S., was offended by Murphy Milano’s comment. Part of his response on Facebook Thursday read, “As for Susan Murphy Milano, you should be ashamed of yourself, for telling Kelly's class, who are now police officers, and sheriff deputies, to have a rotten Christmas. It shows your true colors for having the audacity to say that to the men and women who protect you day in and day out.”
It is hoped that as police officers and sheriff deputies they can use their training and resources to help Kelly.  
Murphy Milano’s words were harsh, they were cutting, but they were the truth. They were also heart-felt and meant to light a fire under those who she believes should be searching for their friend or helping in whatever way they can.
“Embrace me,” Murphy Milano said. “As a police officer’s daughter, who has had many a rotten Christmas and who, too, has been bashed. I have, at times, been criticized for the work I do protecting those who are still alive and seeking the truth and justice for those who are no longer with us.”
Murphy Milano said she doesn’t want to be the lone ranger in this epidemic of intimate partner violence. It is her hope to provide knowledge and tools to stop the bloodshed.
She was the victim of a horrendous crime – at a young age, Murphy Milano found her mother murdered by her father, who had turned the gun on himself. She believes Kelly fell victim to a crime just as horrendous.
One has to wonder what Kelly might have done if any one of her classmates had gone missing under similar circumstances. Would she be actively looking for them? What would they want and expect from Kelly if they were in her shoes?
Jared wrote, “I have bit my tongue long enough with all the ‘cadet bashing.’ As a member of PRC 177, and classmate of Kelly, I can say she would not want this type of blame game going on.”
Donna’s friend, Tricia Reis, who from many miles away has done all she can to help keep Kelly’s story alive said, “This is not Donna playing a blame game. Donna has been asked repeatedly where the cadets were at many of the events by attendees as well as the media and she has ALWAYS given gracious replies that divert any negativity away from the cadets.”
Donna is Kelly’s best friend who stayed up until 3 a.m. with Kelly the night before she vanished, and who was with her the day she vanished. She heard Kelly’s fears and concerns when she wondered how Perry would take her wanting to leave him.
She also heard a renewed confidence in Kelly and her excitement about moving on with her life away from Perry. She was also excited that she would soon be doing what she longed to do – becoming a police officer to serve her community – as her classmates have gone on to do.
The cadet said, “If it was up to our class, we would have been out there searching, unfortunately, we didn't have the final say at the academy. If anything, it should have been taken up with the academy director.”
Tricia said, “Donna has always been positive and hopeful and handled things in the way she knows Kelly would have wanted her to. That said, there were many events planned besides the latest search. A vigil every month, a pancake breakfast fundraiser, the CUE [Center for the Missing] road to remember bus tour stop.
“In all of those events, scheduled on all of those different days … ONE cadet showed up. That’s not bashing, that’s the truth. People notice that,” she said.
At this juncture it is hoped that Kelly’s fellow classmates will realize Murphy Milano’s comment was meant not to hurt, but to help Kelly.
Kelly is out there, somewhere, and she needs to be found. Justice needs to be served.
If she met her demise at the hands of Perry, as many believe, should he be walking free?
Perry was in a new relationship with a beautiful young woman who thankfully has filed for divorce. Police had warned Melissa Marie Walker about Perry but she went through with the wedding. Her family learned about Perry’s past and begged Melissa to leave him.
Melissa said she did her research and recently decided to file for divorce. The two had met on Craigslist just two weeks after Kelly disappeared. Melissa has admitted she made a huge mistake in marrying Perry. Now police are working to keep her safe. Perry was incarcerated but later released for defrauding the state of New York in a bogus workers’ comp injury case.
Perry was also married before and according to Donna, his ex-wife has her own stories to tell of abuse at the hands of her ex-husband.
The work Donna, Tricia, and Sandy, who Tricia says helps them mostly behind-the-scenes, do for Kelly is hard and lonely.
What these women want and need is the support of Kelly’s classmates, her friends, and her community, and to know the her classmates will uphold the promise they made to Kelly: “We won’t stop looking for you.” PRO #177 “CAN’T STOP, WON’T STOP.”
Until Kelly’s case is solved everyone needs to rally together to find her. In whatever way they can.
Pinellas Detective Michael Bailey reminds the public that every tip, no matter how small, should be called in to police as it helps lay the groundwork in the case. Detectives are now calling the case a homicide. If you have information about the case, please call Crime Stoppers of Pinellas County at 1-800-873-TIPS. 
Susan Murphy Milano is a staff member of the Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and Public Pathology Education as a educator and specialist with intimate partner violence prevention strategies directing prevention for high risk situations and cases.

A national trainer to law enforcement, training officers, prosecutors, judges, legislators, social service providers, healthcare professionals, victim advocates and the faith based community and author.. In partnership with Management Resources Ltd. of New York addressing prevention and solutions within the community to the workplace. Host of The Susan Murphy Milano Show,"Time'sUp!" . She is a regular contributor to the nationally syndicated "The Roth Show" with Dr Laurie Roth and a co-host onCrime Wire. Online contributions: Forbes : Crime, She Writesproviding commentary about the hottest topics on crime, justice, and law from a woman’s perspective, as well as Time's Up! a blog which searches for solutions (SOS) for victims of crime

1 comment:

Donna R. Gore said...

In the final analysis, words don't mean much...Actions count more! It is my hope that the Police Academy Director and Melissa, "the new bride" will provide the information and resources needed to assist in the recovery of Kelly.
Stop focusing on political correctness and roll up your sleeves with continuing searches.

In respect for Kelly,

Donna "Ladyjustice"

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