Life in Prison for the Murder of Pilar Rodriguez

Keith Allen Wilson, 46, will spend the rest of his life in prison for the February 1999 murder of 4 year old Pilar Rodriguez. Wilson was sentenced today following his October conviction for
Second Degree Murder.

Pilar disappeared while on a trip to Punta Gorda with her babysitter Melissa Cooper (now Harding-Jones) to visit her boyfriend, Keith Wilson. It was initially a cold case after her disappearance in 1999 but as new information, including new witnesses, came to light in 2009 the case was able to be solved. Pilar’s body has never been found.

During trial, Harding-Jones testified that during their visit Wilson became increasingly violent to both her and Pilar. She testified Wilson punched Pilar in her head with a closed fist and she fell into a wall. Pilar grew increasingly ill following the abuse and died several days later. She then said Wilson put Pilar’s body into a garbage bag and she never saw her again.

Another witness, a relative of Wilson’s, came forward to law enforcement in 2009. He testified at trial that he saw the foot of a small child sticking out from within the trunk of the defendant’s car. Other witnesses testified that Wilson made comments about the State not being able to prove murder without a body and that alligators will eat anything.

Harding-Jones is a co-defendant in the case. She has a plea agreement for one count of Accessory after the Fact. Part of that agreement was to testify truthfully in Wilson’s trial. She faces up to 30 years in prison when she is sentenced on January 18th.

Assistant State Attorney Dan Feinberg of our Homicide Unit and Assistant State Attorney Cynthia Rebholz-Rubin handled the case. The State Attorney’s Office would also like to thank the hard work of the Charlotte County Sheriff Department’s Cold Case Unit; Michael Vogel, Michael Gandy and Kurt Mehl.

Samantha Syoen
Communications Director
State Attorney’s Office
239-533-1125
ssyoen@sao.cjis20.org