Bath County man is arrested in connection with death of Florida girl

kward1@herald-leader.comJuly 16, 2013 

Keith Allen Wilson of Owingsville, KY was apprehended by the Kentucky State Police and the FBI on July 16, 2013. Wilson was wanted in Florida for one count of First Degree Felony Murder in connection with the murder of four year old Pilar Rodriquez, who was reported missing in January 1999. The Kentucky State Police was contacted by the Charlotte County (Florida) Sheriff s Department and requested to apprehend Wilson. Wilson is currently lodged in the Montgomery County Regional Jail awaiting extradition to Florida.

A Bath County man was arrested Tuesday in connection with the death of a 4-year-old Florida girl.

Keith Allen Wilson, 42, who was wanted in Florida on one count of first-degree murder, is accused of killing Pilar Rodriguez.

The child was reported missing in January 1999, and her body has never been found.

Kentucky State Police and officers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Wilson at 10:28 a.m. Tuesday, after the sheriff's office in Charlotte County, Fla., contacted the state police and asked them to take Wilson into custody, according to a news release from state police.

The arrest came after Wilson's former girlfriend, Melissa Harding-Jones, pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to being "an accessory after the fact" in court in Charlotte County, Fla., the Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune reported.

Harding-Jones, a native of Fleming County, was known in 1999 as Melissa Cooper.

She and Wilson moved from Kentucky to Florida, where Wilson was working as a truck driver. Harding-Jones took a job as a babysitter for Pilar Rodriguez, whose father had a job that required him to be away from home for weeks at a time, according to a 2000 Herald-Leader article.

After Pilar disappeared, the couple broke up. Harding-Jones moved to Wisconsin, and she eventually told investigators that Wilson had beaten the child to death and wrapped her body in a garbage bag before disposing of it.

Wilson moved back to Kentucky under a cloud of suspicion. In an interview with the Herald-Leader in 2000, he said he was "innocent of all charges." At that time, he had not been charged with a crime, but he had been named as the girl's killer in a civil lawsuit.

In 2009, the case again drew attention when investigators excavated an 8-acre site behind Wilson's grandmother's home in Punta Gorda, Fla., according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. That uncovered new evidence in the case, and Harding-Jones was arrested the following year in Everett, Wash., the newspaper reported.

Wilson was being held in the Montgomery County Regional Jail while awaiting extradition to Florida.

Karla Ward: (859) 231-3314. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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