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Supporters determined to find police cadet who vanished in 2011

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH — In the three years since Kelly Rothwell's disappearance, loved ones have struggled to hold public attention on the missing police cadet's case.

Wednesday marked the third anniversary of Rothwell's disappearance, and her friend Donna Scharrett organized a walking vigil outside her former home to generate media interest. Someone might see the event and come forward with information that could lead to Rothwell's body.

"We just need that resolution," she said. "It's a respect. It's an honor for a human being."

All that Scharrett hopes to find of Rothwell now is bones. She said this frankly, with a disconnection that became necessary after three years of unsuccessful searching.

"There have not been any new developments," Pinellas County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Cristen Rensel said.

Scharrett last saw Rothwell after a late Sunday lunch in 2011. Rothwell, 35, told her friend she was going home to break up with her boyfriend, Dave Perry. When she didn't show up for cadet training the next day, Scharrett and others grew worried.

Perry, a retired corrections officer, was named as a suspect but never charged. He is now serving a four-to 12-year prison sentence in New York for grand larceny and fraud.

Rothwell's disappearance left a void, but with nothing new to report, interest has waned.

"It's enough to just make me want to pull my hair out," said Scharrett, 48.

She hoped Wednesday's walk, with about seven volunteers holding signs, handing out T-shirts and moving north from Rothwell's former condo at 2708 Gulf Blvd., would drum up attention.

The small group meets to toss flowers in the lake or hold vigils on the beach on the 12th of nearly every month. Scharrett maintains a website, prints posters and holds regular memorials.

None of the other volunteers at Wednesday's walk had ever met the woman whose face they held on signs. They walked for most of the afternoon, and said they've been pulled in by Scharrett's dedication and by the story of the missing woman. Scharrett said she sees progress — but only by process of elimination.

"If that means we just keep crossing off places where she isn't, that will lead us to the site where she is," Scharrett said.

Claire Wiseman can be reached at cwiseman@tampabay.com or (727)-893-8804. Follow @clairelwiseman on Twitter.

Supporters determined to find police cadet who vanished in 2011 03/13/14 [Last modified: Friday, March 14, 2014 12:24pm]
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