A Missouri man has been charged with the alleged murder of his missing wife as authorities who found blood-stained carpeting soaked with bleach in the couple’s suburban home continue to search for her.
Jennifer Rothwell, 28, was reported missing by her husband, Beau, also 28, last Tuesday night — a day before his arrest on a charge of tampering with physical evidence.
On Friday, prosecutors in St. Louis County added the charge of second-degree murder, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and local TV stations KMOV and KSDK.
Prosecutor Wesley Bell declined in a written statement to explain the additional charge, other than to say it was warranted by the ongoing investigation.
“I believe the charges are appropriate and justice compels us to move forward,” he said.
DNA samples from the missing woman’s parents matched with blood found at the home, where Beau Rothwell is alleged to have killed his wife on Monday, according to court records.
Police say they have video evidence allegedly showing him buying carpet cleaner, gloves and bleach on the day before he reported his wife missing, according to charging documents.
The two married in 2015.
A search of the Rothwell home on Wednesday turned up wet carpeting that was soaked in bleach, say police.
Authorities allege both the carpeting and the padding underneath it were stained with blood.
According to the charging documents, Beau allegedly “purchased and applied cleaning products to a large area of blood in effort to destroy or remove physical evidence with the purpose to impair its availability in an investigation into the murder of Jennifer Rothwell.”
A motive for the presumed slaying is unclear.
Jennifer’s abandoned Hyundai Sonata was found Tuesday night, less than two miles from the couple’s home. Authorities previously said her husband told them he last saw Jennifer, a chemical engineer, on Tuesday morning as she was headed for work.
It was unclear if Beau had entered a plea or retained an attorney who could comment on his behalf.
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He had been held in St. Louis County jail on a $100,000 bond on the evidence tampering charge. But after the additional murder charge was filed, his bond was revoked by a judge, and he “will remain in custody as the case proceeds,” according to prosecutor Bell’s statement.
In a Facebook post reporting that the case had been upgraded to a homicide investigation, police said, “Jennifer has no history of leaving and is normally in contact with family members and friends on a daily basis.”
“Some of you may have heard already, but last night my wife Jennifer went missing,” Beau wrote Wednesday in a Facebook post prior to his arrest, urging people with information to contact police.
The missing woman’s family has offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to her whereabouts.
“She works hard. People like her. She has a lot of friends at DuPont,” the chemical company where she works, Jennifer’s mother Robin von Hausen told KMOV. A co-worker tipped the family off to Jennifer’s disappearance.
“They assumed she just hadn’t come into work because of the weather or whatnot,” she said. “So, it wasn’t until late, 6 or so in the evening, before we even knew she hadn’t made it to work.”
Police ask anyone with information about Jennifer to call them at 636-529-8210
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