Baby Sitter, Melissa Harding Jones Arrested in 1999 Case of Missing Child, Pilar Rodriguez/7.16.2013 Jones pleads guilty to accessory after the face, will testify against BF Keith Wilson, arrested 7.16.2013, charged w/ 1st degree murder

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Post by lisette on Wed Aug 25, 2010 8:06 pm

HOLLYWOOD — The baby sitter who disappeared with a Hollywood child more than a decade ago was arrested this week and is fighting efforts to bring her to Florida to face a manslaughter charge.

Melissa Harding Jones, formerly Melissa Cooper, was arrested Monday at her home in Everett, Wash., and charged with aggravated manslaughter in connection with the death of Pilar Rodriguez, 4.

Authorities are trying to extradite Jones, 33, to Punta Gorda, where the child was last seen alive and the criminal investigation is based. A band of retired detectives is credited with finding the evidence that revived the cold case from 1999.

Jones was arrested at the home where she lives with her husband and two children, according to an online report from Heraldnet.com in Everett, Wash.

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Pilar, remembered by neighbors in the 2100 block of Van Buren Street as a talkative, playful child, is presumed dead even though authorities never found her body.

"I have never forgotten her little face," former neighbor Georgina Florencia, now of Dania Beach, said Wednesday. "I hope her family finally gets some justice."

Pilar disappeared in February 1999, after her father, Marco Rodriguez, allowed Jones to take the preschooler on a two-week vacation to Punta Gorda.

The child was last seen with Jones and her then-boyfriend, Keith Wilson, and police immediately suspected Pilar was dead. Jones and Wilson have accused each other of responsibility for the child's death.

A massive search of Florida's west coast, including draining an entire lake, did not reveal any clues to Pilar's whereabouts.

Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Cameron told reporters during a press conference Tuesday that the team of retired investigators who took up the cold case last year led authorities to the arrest.

Cameron said investigators dug up new critical information, evidence and witnesses that allowed them to make an arrest. Those new details were not immediately available.

A spokeswoman with the State Attorney's Office in Charlotte said the investigation is still open and declined to release any further details.

In November, investigators spent more than a week on a Punta Gorda property owned by one of Wilson's relatives, and police indicated that some items of interest were found. They did not provide specifics.

Marco Rodriguez, who was investigated and ruled out as a suspect, tried to sue Wilson for wrongful death, alleging the man had beaten his daughter to death and then disposed of the body. The case was dismissed in 2000.

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This story will probably give the Ants hope that Zanny will be charged with Caylee's disappearance in the future.
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Post by Guest on Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:50 pm

Well I am glad some of these cold cases have had arrests. Thanks for posting this lisette. Your right about CA. Long after KC is found gulity CA will believe that Caylee is alive out there with Zanny.
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Post by TerryRose on Thu Aug 26, 2010 1:15 pm

Lindamarie wrote "Well I am glad some of these cold cases have had arrests. Thanks for posting this lisette. Your right about CA. Long after KC is found gulity CA will believe that Caylee is alive out there with Zanny."

I don't remember them well, but there is a list of the stages one goes through facing death or in grief and one of them is denial----I believe that CA is stuck in the denial phase of grief. JMO. I too am glad when cold cases are pursued and heinous acts are prosecuted.
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Post by charminglane on Thu Aug 26, 2010 8:02 pm

Nup. Cindy knows Casey killed her. She has no denial. She is just trying to cast doubt and confusion anyway she can--praying that ONE juror will be from out in the swamp somewhere and doesn't know who the hell they are.
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Post by CritterFan1 on Thu Aug 26, 2010 8:53 pm

lindamarie wrote:Well I am glad some of these cold cases have had arrests. Thanks for posting this lisette. Your right about CA. Long after KC is found gulity CA will believe that Caylee is alive out there with Zanny.
Just like Scott Peterson's mother. Until her last breath she will believe Scott is innocent.
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Normal Re: Baby Sitter, Melissa Harding Jones Arrested in 1999 Case of Missing Child, Pilar Rodriguez/7.16.2013 Jones pleads guilty to accessory after the face, will testify against BF Keith Wilson, arrested 7.16.2013, charged w/ 1st degree murder

Post by lisette on Thu Sep 02, 2010 8:58 pm

Pilar Rodriguez killing suspect back in Charlotte

COURTESY / CHARLOTTE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

Melissa Harding Jones, also known as Melissa Cooper.

JASON WITZ
Herald-Tribune Correspondent

Published: Sunday, August 29, 2010 at 12:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, August 29, 2010 at 12:33 p.m.

The woman arrested last week in connection to the 1999 disappearance of 4-year-old Pilar Rodriguez has returned to Charlotte County to face charges in the case.
Melissa Harding Jones -- formerly Melissa Cooper -- arrived at the Charlotte County Jail late Friday following her extradition from Everett, Washington on the charg of aggravated manslaughter of a child.

Pilar disappeared in January 1999 while on a trip with Jones, who had left Hollywood, Florida, to live with her truck driver boyfriend in Punta Gorda.

Pilar's father, Marco Rodriguez, had allowed Jones to take the child with her but when Jones, now 33, and Pilar did not return, he reported the child missing.

The case touched off an unprecedented investigation in Charlotte County.

Jones and her boyfriend, Keith Wilson, came under scrutiny from investigators and reportedly told detectives conflicting stories.

A break in the case came last fall when local and federal forensic teams, acting on a tip, searched an 8-acre site behind the home of Wilson's grandmother near the community of Cleveland.

Cameron said detectives had collected unspecified new evidence and the cold case was considered an active homicide investigation.

Jones has a hearing scheduled for Oct. 18. She is being held at the Charlotte County Jail without bond.

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Post by Ste1977 on Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:41 pm

Sad that the Dad trusted his daughter with her and something like this happened. Good to know that they are taking some serious looks at some of these older cases and making some arrests in them
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Post by raine1953 on Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:40 am

Witness: 'I saw a body of a young child'

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, FL -
There was a bombshell in a Charlotte County courtroom Monday. A witness claimed he saw the body of Pilar Rodriguez in the trunk of a car when she disappeared more than 10 years ago. The revelations came just moments after the woman charged in the case turns down a plea deal.

Melissa Harding-Jones was charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child in August 2010.

At Monday's court hearing, the state needed to prove it had more than just Harding Jones' statement as evidence against her.

The state called Pilar Rodriguez's father to the stand to testify.

After his testimony, Harding-Jones agreed to a plea deal with the state.

While the judge was reading Harding-Jones her rights and asked her if she agreed to the plea deal, she changed her mind.

"She is adamant in the fact that she is not guilty and she wants her day in court," said her attorney Robert Barrar.

With the plea deal off the table, the court hearing went on and the state called another witness.

Late in the afternoon, Jesse A. Clapham took the stand.

He's a relative of Keith Wilson who was Harding-Jones' boyfriend in 1999 when Pilar disappeared.

"I saw a body of a young child," he said Monday. "I seen, I think, the left foot and leg sticking out."

Clapham told the court he went to the police in 2009 with that information about Pilar. He says relatives were discussing what to do with the body.

"I heard some other people I know had kids molested by Keith Wilson so I am just trying to do my part - get things off my chest," he said.

The judge denied the motion by the defense to dismiss charges against Harding-Jones.

So now for Jones, it's time for trial by jury.

The prosecution is hoping to introduce her statements which could turn out to be confessions.

But Pilar's father says he is just hoping that 12 years later, justice will be served.

Harding-Jones was Pilar's babysitter in 1999 when she took Pilar to Punta Gorda for vacation. Pilar was never seen again and her body has never been found.
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Normal i am pilars aunt in ohio

Post by aunt on Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:02 pm



I am her aunt Penny in ohio her mother's sister and this needs to be done the family needs closure it has been over a decade and nothing has been done Justice needs to be done and that way we can have some peace about the situation,,,I very much appreciate along with the other family members the way the police and detectives have worked many hours on this case and continues to do so....thankyou from the bottom of our hearts for all the support.







[quote="lisette"]HOLLYWOOD — The baby sitter who disappeared with a Hollywood child more than a decade ago was arrested this week and is fighting efforts to bring her to Florida to face a manslaughter charge.

Melissa Harding Jones, formerly Melissa Cooper, was arrested Monday at her home in Everett, Wash., and charged with aggravated manslaughter in connection with the death of Pilar Rodriguez, 4.

Authorities are trying to extradite Jones, 33, to Punta Gorda, where the child was last seen alive and the criminal investigation is based. A band of retired detectives is credited with finding the evidence that revived the cold case from 1999.

Jones was arrested at the home where she lives with her husband and two children, according to an online report from Heraldnet.com in Everett, Wash.

Get the day's top stories in your inbox. Click here to sign up for the Midday Update newsletter

Pilar, remembered by neighbors in the 2100 block of Van Buren Street as a talkative, playful child, is presumed dead even though authorities never found her body.

"I have never forgotten her little face," former neighbor Georgina Florencia, now of Dania Beach, said Wednesday. "I hope her family finally gets some justice."

Pilar disappeared in February 1999, after her father, Marco Rodriguez, allowed Jones to take the preschooler on a two-week vacation to Punta Gorda.

The child was last seen with Jones and her then-boyfriend, Keith Wilson, and police immediately suspected Pilar was dead. Jones and Wilson have accused each other of responsibility for the child's death.

A massive search of Florida's west coast, including draining an entire lake, did not reveal any clues to Pilar's whereabouts.

Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Cameron told reporters during a press conference Tuesday that the team of retired investigators who took up the cold case last year led authorities to the arrest.

Cameron said investigators dug up new critical information, evidence and witnesses that allowed them to make an arrest. Those new details were not immediately available.

A spokeswoman with the State Attorney's Office in Charlotte said the investigation is still open and declined to release any further details.

In November, investigators spent more than a week on a Punta Gorda property owned by one of Wilson's relatives, and police indicated that some items of interest were found. They did not provide specifics.

Marco Rodriguez, who was investigated and ruled out as a suspect, tried to sue Wilson it for wrongful death, alleging the man had beaten his daughter to death and then disposed of the body. The case was dismissed in 2000.

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Post by laga on Wed Jun 15, 2011 2:37 pm

Trying to get the facts straight in my head, with all that other stuff already there....so a relative of the accused's boyfriend tells LE 10 yrs after that he saw a body in the trunk of a car and that the boyfriend molested other children? Can they find that car, if a body was decompossing in there, maybe some evidence remains, do they need more evidence?
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Post by aunt on Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:04 pm

i dont know where the car is and the boyfriend is in ky im in ohio and i dont know anything but from the news clips too many questions not enough answers

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Post by laga on Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:19 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:i dont know where the car is and the boyfriend is in ky im in ohio and i dont know anything but from the news clips too many questions not enough answers

Thanks Pilar's Aunt for responding to my question. Unfortunately, that seems to always be the case, too many questions, not enough answers. I will try to keep up with the news on this and hoping for justice for Pilar and peace for her family.
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Post by Guest on Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:05 pm

welcome2 to Victims Heartland, Aunt Penny.
Cold cases being solved like this gives other families hope that their loved ones case will be solved one day.
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Post by raine1953 on Sun Dec 11, 2011 3:19 pm

No plea deal for Melissa Harding Jones

HARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla.- The woman accused of having a hand in the disappearance of Pilar Rodriguez will be going to trial. Melissa Harding Jones accepted a plea deal in the case of the missing Punta Gorda toddler, but WINK News is learning that deal is off the table.

The last time Melissa Harding Jones was at the Charlotte County courthouse, she accepted a plea deal but the judge said no. This time, no plea deal and her lawyers are set to go to trial.

Harding Jones was not in court Wednesday as her lawyer argued on her behalf. She's accused of standing by while her boyfriend at the time allegedly killed Pilar Rodriguez.

Her attorney asked the state to pay for expert witnesses for Harding Jones because she says she couldn't afford it. The judge said no.

Her attorney told WINK News the plea deal is now off the table and that it was the state's choice.

A trial date has not yet been set. Her next court date is set for February.
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Normal Arrest affidavit reveals shocking details in 1999 cold case

Post by raine1953 on Sat Aug 10, 2013 3:56 am

Posted: Aug 02, 2013 9:32 AM PDT
Updated: Aug 03, 2013 6:47 AM PDT

***WARNING: THIS IS GRAPHIC!***
CHARLOTTE COUNTY, FL -
Recently-filed court documents detail new information about Keith Wilson, the man arrested for the murder of Pilar Rodriguez, who disappeared in 1999, and the chain of events leading up to her presumed death.

Wilson just arrived in Charlotte County, after being extradited from his home state of Kentucky on a First Degree Murder charge.

In July, Wilson's old girlfriend and Pilar's former babysitter, Melissa Harding Jones, formerly Melissa Cooper, pleaded guilty to playing a part in Pilar's murder.

The child's body has never been found, but investigators say they have discovered new evidence that directly links Keith Wilson to her murder.

The specifics of that evidence has not been released, but the arrest affidavit, summarized below, claims Keith Wilson was violent, that he tortured, beat and raped Pilar.

They state it all may have been driven by jealousy - after Jones told Wilson that Pilar's father made sexual advances to her.

January 31, 1999: Jones and Pilar visit Wilson's home in Punta Gorda

Shortly after they arrive, Jones tells Wilson that Pilar's dad had made sexual advances toward her. Wilson then started abusing her and Pilar, and no longer wanted Pilar in the home.

Jones says Wilson was in a bad mood on either February 12 or 13, 1999 and hit Pilar with his hand and fist. Pilar hit her head on the floor and a soft, mushy spot on the back of her head developed.

Pilar later started complaining of head and stomach pain and had diarrhea. Jones said she died the next day.

She wrapped her in a blanket and when Wilson came home from work, he decided to bury her body.

February 22, 1999: Dad reports Pilar missing

Marco Rodriguez, Pilar's father, reported Pilar missing after Jones never brings her home, and the search for the girl begins.

Cadaver dogs showed strong interest in the sofa and the floor near the bathroom of Wilson's front entrance in Punta Gorda. They also showed a strong interest in the trunk of Wilson's car.

Later, forensic testing revealed the floor near the bathroom contained blood from a female consistent with a child belonging to Pamela and Marco Rodriguez, Pilar's parents.

Keith Wilson and his alleged violent history

In a police interview with Melissa Harding Jones in 2009, she describes her past relationship with Wilson. She told investigators Wilson would often beat, slap, body slam, choke and forcefully sodomize her.

Wilson also abused and tortured some of her animals to death.

She left him and went to Hollywood, FL to live with her mother, where she started babysitting Pilar.

Despite the abuse, she would occasionally visit Wilson in Punta Gorda on the weekends. When she started babysitting Pilar, she told Wilson when she visits, she would have to bring Pilar along.

Torture and sexual abuse before Pilar's death

Harding Jones told investigators when she would fix Pilar's hair, Wilson would then remove the "stuff" from Pilar's hair and hit Pilar. The report states Wilson forced Pilar to sleep in the closet, take cold showers and air dry. He would also force her to stay awake all night while standing up.

Wilson placed a dog collar around Pilar's neck and kept her tied to the bed frame with a leash. Harding Jones says he would try to make Pilar look like a boy, cutting her hair short.

A few days before Pilar's death, Harding Jones stated Keith Wilson sexually assaulted Pilar vaginally with his penis.

Disposing Pilar's body

Jesse Clapham, Keith Wilson's stepdad, told investigators he saw a young child's purple foot sticking out of a pink baby blanket in the trunk of Wilson's car. This was right around the time that news coverage started in 1999.

Clapham asked Wilson if it was Pilar and he said it was. Clapham reported that Wilson said she had suffocated somehow.

"She was crying and he was trying to comfort her or something and she suffocated somehow. He said he put her in a septic tank and to let her decompose and I'm not sure if he said he… he had pumped her into a septic tank or if he pumped her into a field uh… septic tank field somewhere," Clapham said.

Keith Wilson's next court appearance is September 16 at the Charlotte County Justice Center.
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Normal Baby sitter's ex-boyfriend arrested in 1999 child killing

Post by raine1953 on Sat Aug 10, 2013 4:11 am

July 16, 2013
On the same day a former baby sitter pleaded guilty in the 1999 disappearance of a 4-year-old Hollywood girl, the woman's ex-boyfriend was arrested in Kentucky and charged with the child's death.

Melissa Harding-Jones pleaded guilty in Punta Gorda on Tuesday morning to being an accessory after the fact in the death of Pilar Rodriguez. Her attorney, Robert Barrar, said Harding-Jones will testify against ex-boyfriend Keith Wilson as part of her plea deal.

"Look, it's no coincidence, obviously," Barrar said. "This was a big victory for her. The state formally dropped the aggravated manslaughter charge."

Wilson was charged with murder when Montgomery County Sheriff's deputies arrested him Tuesday, records showed.

Harding-Jones, formerly Melissa Cooper, is facing anywhere from three to 30 years in prison when sentenced. Barrar said he will seek a lesser term.

"There are a lot of reasons that we'll present at sentencing [to show] why shouldn't she be given even more leniency than has already been shown," he said.

Pilar disappeared in February 1999 after her father, Marco Rodriguez, allowed Harding-Jones to take the preschooler on a two-week vacation to Punta Gorda.

The child was last seen with Harding-Jones and Wilson, and police immediately suspected Pilar was dead. Harding-Jones and Wilson have accused each other of responsibility for the child's death.

A massive search of Florida's west coast, including the draining of a lake, did not reveal any clues to Pilar's whereabouts.

"She's extremely remorseful," Barrar said of his client. "What happened to this child I know she feels badly about, but to a large extent she was powerless to do anything."

Rodriguez, who was investigated and ruled out as a suspect, tried to sue Wilson for wrongful death, alleging the man had beaten his daughter to death and disposed of the body. The case was dismissed in 2000.

Harding-Jones, who has been free on bond and was summoned back to Charlotte County from Lake Stevens, Wash., is married with two children. There were no restrictions placed on her travel, so she can go home, then return to Punta Gorda for her sentencing and to testify at Wilson's trial, Barrar said.

"I'm sure to some extent she's relieved, but it's not over for her," he said. "It's not going to be over for a long time, until Wilson's case is over with."
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