ONLY ON 10: David Perry's former sister-in-law speaks out | News
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Cassandra Walker-Williams says she wants to tell her story and set the record straight.
She is both angry and broken-hearted over recent events.
Cassandra, or "Cassie" as she is called by friends and family, is the sister of Melissa Walker, a woman who married an ex-prison guard from upstate New York named David Perry.
Perry just happens to be the prime suspect in the disappearance of missing police cadet Kelly Rothwell from Indian Rocks Beach.
Cassie says she warned her sister over and over again about David Perry, but ultimately Melissa "did what she wanted to do." She told 10 News on Wednesday night, "I've done everything I can do, Melanie, to protect her. I cannot protect someone who does not want to be protected."
Melissa was warned not only by her sister, but by Pinellas County detectives as well. Everyone told her that Perry was bad news. Kelly Rothwell went to her Indian Rocks Beach condo a year ago to break up with him and was never seen alive again.
Family and friends just honored Kelly's memory on March 12, the one-year anniversary of her disappearance.
Kelly's best friend, Donna Scharrett, is still grieving. With tears streaming down her face, she said, "I still can't believe she's gone. Kelly Rothwell is dead, and we need to find her."
Perry has never helped in the search to find Kelly and has never been cooperative with detectives. In fact, when Pinellas detectives went to New York to talk with him, he panicked, ran around the local police station, and peeled out in the parking lot, according to investigators.
David Perry met Melissa Walker online through the website Craigslist. Friends say he began courting Melissa while he was still with Kelly.
David and Melissa were married in Hawaii shortly after Kelly went missing. Melissa says she ignored the headlines of Kelly's disappearance and did not want to believe it. "He made me feel loved," she said. "I loved him and wanted to be happy."
However, the media reports and warnings eventually got to her. She filed for divorce just hours before New Year's Eve. "I felt like I loved him early on, but it felt like something wasn't quite right," she said.
Her sister was thrilled to know the relationship was over.
But, then there were signs, troublesome signs. "I went three weeks without talking to her. I told my husband, 'I think she's back with him,'" Cassie told 10 News.
Her sisterly intuition was spot-on, and her nightmare started all over again. Melissa went back to her ex, even though she told numerous people, including 10 News, that Perry was a bad guy and very dangerous.
"I couldn't believe it," said Cassie.
10 News asked Cassie why her sister would go back to David Perry. "Honey, your guess is as good as mine."
The biggest question now is whether or not Melissa will help bail her ex out of jail and help him go on the run from police, since he is the prime suspect in Kelly's disappearance.
Perry was arrested at his home in Elmira, New York on Tuesday, accused of faking a workman's comp injury while he was a state prison guard to get thousands of dollars. 10 News has also learned, according to documents, that Perry took on his ex-wife's name. He now goes by David Walker.
We asked his lawyer, Tom Riley, some tough questions. "Did David Perry kill Kelly Rothwell?" we asked.
"I don't know," he said. "It's very sad. I've known him for years. I don't know, I don't know. It's been stressful."
As for Cassie, she has written off her sister. She says she realizes it's harsh, but she has no choice. "I had to do this, and some people may not be happy about it."
"If [you want] to stay with a murderer, you deserve what you get. I know it sounds bad, but that's the way I feel. I've tried to protect her," said Cassie.
Right now, there is a $50,000 reward for anyone who can help locate Kelly's body. Her family is putting forth $25,000 and Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri added another $25,000.
Related Kelly Rothwell stories:
Mugshots: Florida Attorney General's Most Wanted
Mugshots: Florida Highway Patrol's Most Wanted
Mugshots: Tampa's Most Wanted