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New wife of David Perry, missing cadet Kelly Rothwell's ex-boyfriend, files for divorce

1:33 AM, Dec 31, 2011   |    comments
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A photo of David Perry and Melissa Walker hiking in the mountains.

CLEARWATER, Florida - Melissa Marie Walker says she knew something was wrong. But, it was just too difficult to accept.

She did not want to believe that her new husband, David Perry, was an accused murderer, acccording to Pinellas detectives.

The newlyweds met online, as many modern couples do. It was the spring of 2011 and Melissa fell in love. The 35-year-old member of the military is from Las Vegas, and she met Perry on the website Craig'sList.

They seemed to be perfect for each other. A photo of the two has surfaced online where they are shown hiking in the mountains in athletic gear.

Walker learned over time that Perry was accused of murdering  his former girlfriend, missing police cadet Kelly Rothwell. In fact, Pinellas detectives warned Walker firsthand.

"I told her," said Detective Michael Bailey. "I warned her that he was the prime suspect in Kelly's disappearance."

Unbeknownst to her, Walker and Perry met just two weeks after Rothwell went missing. But, Walker refused to give up on her new groom.

However, amidst a swirl of local and national media reports about Perry and his past, word got back to Walker's family about his alleged involvement in Kelly's sudden disappearance back in March.

Detectives say Perry was the last person to see Rothwell alive.

Walker's relatives began urging her to leave Perry and do it fast.

So, what was the final straw? Sources say there was an emotional letter written to Walker online from a concerned citizen, urging her to end her relationship with Perry immediately.

10 News learned Friday that Walker finally met with her attorney and filed for divorce around 3 p.m. Hawaii time. She claims she wanted to clear her name with the Tampa Bay media, admitting that she made a mistake in marrying David Perry.

She told detectives, "I want nothing to do with him. I did my own investigation."

Pinellas detectives warned her repeatedly. They believe David Perry most likely killed Kelly Rothwell when she went to their Indian Rocks Beach condo back in March to break up with him.

David Perry currently lives in New York, where he's facing charges of insurance fraud from his time as a state corrections officer. He's accused of faking an injury to cash in on thousands of dollars.

In addition, Perry has to get permission from a judge before he travels anywhere.

Are detectives worried that Perry will come after Walker, as a result of the divorce? 

Pinellas detectives say,"We are doing everything we can to protect Melissa."

Meanwhile, on the same day that Walker filed for divorce, national teams and cadaver dogs were in town poised to resume their search for Kelly Rothwell.

A 10 News viewer saw a recent story on Rothwell and called Pinellas detectives immediately, saying she recognized David Perry after walking her dog in Largo's Eagle Lake Park. She claims that after she locked eyes with Perry, he ducked behind a tree after behaving suspiciously.

That is one of the areas search teams will now focus on as they look for Rothwell. CUE Center for Missing Persons has been to the Bay area several times to look for the missing police cadet. They want to highlight her case in their national organization.

"We just want to find her," said founder Monica Caison.

Rothwell's best friend, Donna Scharrett, tells 10 News, "I will not stop looking for my Kel Bel.  I won't stop 'til I bring her home."







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