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Jacksonville man sentenced to life in prison for brutally killing his elderly mother
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Jacksonville man sentenced to life in prison for brutally killing his elderly mother

Jacksonville man sentenced to life in prison for brutally killing his elderly mother

Jacksonville man sentenced to life in prison for brutally killing his elderly mother

Nine months after a 76-year-old woman was brutally murdered in her Sandalwood home, State Attorney Melissa Nelson says the victim's son has been sentenced to life in prison.

That's as Scott Rolnick, 52, entered guilty pleas Friday for first-degree murder, armed burglary, grand theft auto, and dealing in stolen property. 

Rolnick was indicted by a grand jury back in August 2017, following his arrest in June of that same year. 

Investigators say Rolnick forced entry into his mother's home sometime between June 5-6, 2017, and murdered her. Evidence shows Mary Rolnick either died of strangulation or of her 119 stab wounds. 

After killing her, Rolnick was later found at a gas station on Powers Avenue, with Mary Rolnick's personal belongings, including checks and credit cards that had her blood on them. Police say he also made incriminating statements to officers who detained him.

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  • A Colorado man who for days pleaded publicly for the return of his pregnant wife and two young daughters has been arrested and charged with killing them, police said.  Christopher Lee Watts, 33, of Frederick, was arrested just after 11 p.m. Wednesday night in connection with the slayings of his wife, Shanann Watts, and their two daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3. Shanann Watts, 34, was about 15 weeks pregnant. Bella Watts was days away from starting kindergarten.  John Camper, director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, said during a media briefing Thursday afternoon that investigators were “quite certain” the body of Shanann Watts has been recovered. “We have strong reason to believe we know where the bodies of the children are, and recovery efforts are in process on that,” Camper said.  “This is absolutely the worst possible outcome that any of us could imagine. I think our hearts are broken for the town of Fredrick as much as anybody’s.” Chris Watts is being held in the Weld County Jail pending formal charges, Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said during the briefing. 9News in Denver reported earlier Thursday that Chris Watts faces three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of tampering with physical evidence. >> Related story: Report: Man with NC ties confesses to killing wife, 2 daughters in Colorado Fredrick police officials said they received a call just before 2 p.m. Monday reporting Shanann, Bella and Celeste Watts missing. The report was made by a friend who went to the family’s home in the Wyndham Hill subdivision and found no sign of Shanann or the girls.  Chris Watts said in an interview Tuesday with 9News that he saw the woman at the front door, via the home’s doorbell camera, and realized his family was missing.  “I said, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ And she said, ‘I can’t get ahold of Shanann,’” Watts said. “That’s when I was just, like, ‘OK, something’s not right.’” He said he, too, had been unable to reach his wife via phone or text message. See Chris Watts’ entire interview with 9News below. Shanann Watts’ vehicle, as well as her purse and medication for the children, were all still at the house, authorities said. Police on Tuesday upgraded the missing persons report to an “Endangered Missing Alert” because of the potential medical concerns with the children.   Investigators conducted multiple interviews and officers canvassed the family’s neighborhood for witnesses and clues. News of the missing mother and daughters soon went national, and Watts did his interview with 9News on Tuesday, in which he described his family’s disappearance as “earth-shattering.”  “I don’t feel like this is even real right now. It’s like a nightmare that I just can’t wake up from,” Watts told a reporter. Watts spoke in loving terms of his daughters.  “Celeste, she’s just a bottle of energy,” he said. “I call her ‘Rampage’ because she's got two speeds: go, or she’s sleeping. She’s always the troublemaker, she’s always the one, like, jumping off things. Bella, she’s the more calm, cautious, mothering type, and she’s more like me -- she’s more calm. Celeste has definitely got her mom’s personality, where she’s all gung-ho, ready to go.” The young father also addressed those who might think he had a hand in his family’s disappearance. “Everybody’s going to have their own opinion on anything like this,” Watts said. “I just want people to know that I want my family back. I want them safe and I want them here. This house is not the same.” Less than 24 hours later, Watts was in custody. A law enforcement source told 9News that Watts confessed to killing his wife and children.  No motive has been established, though The Denver Post reported the couple had serious financial problems over the years. They filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in July 2015, citing liabilities of more than $400,000.  The Wyndham Hill Master Association filed a civil claim against the couple last month, but details of that claim were not immediately available, according to the Post.  >> Read more trending news Shanann Watts wrote on social media about the trips and vacations she had earned for her family through Le-Vel, a health and wellness company that sells nutritional products. The Post reported that Watts’ position with the company appeared to have rejuvenated the family’s finances.  “We have qualified for so many amazing trips in two years that we never otherwise would have been able to visit,” she wrote about trips to New Orleans, Las Vegas, San Diego, Toronto, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.  Chris Watts worked for Anadarko Petroleum Co., according to bankruptcy records.  Le-Vel officials wrote on Facebook Thursday morning that their hearts were broken for Shanann Watts and her daughters.  “Shanann was an amazing woman, mother, friend, and overall person,” the statement read. “She lit up every room and was a joy to be around. Our love, prayers, and support go out during this devastating time to her family, friends, and to all Thrivers who had the great fortune of knowing Shanann and her two beautiful daughters.” Shanann Watts’ brother, Frankie Rzucek, wrote that he just wants to know why his sister and nieces died.  “My precious family, my one and only sibling, my sister Shanann, two adorable nieces, Bella and Celeste, and her soon-to-be-found-out unborn son, Niko,” Rzucek wrote. “I just want 30 seconds alone with that heartless psychopath. May Satan have mercy on his soul.” Some of the more poignant social media posts come from the Facebook page of Shanann Watts herself. In a post that included a photo of one of her girls playing at the beach, the young mother wrote of her fears of letting her daughter out into the world.  “The world is a scary place,” Shanann Watts wrote on Aug. 4, just over a week before their disappearances. “I will do everything in my power to teach her right and to protect her, advocate, stand up for her and defend her. I pray every day that she never feels any less than the rest of the world. I pray that she’s protected when I’m not around to protect her.  “Nothing or no one will stop me.”
  • Bodies believed to be those of Christopher Watts’ two young daughters were recovered late Thursday in Colorado, bringing to a tragic close a missing persons’ case that captured the nation’s attention. Watts, 33, of Frederick, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of tampering with physical evidence in the deaths of his wife and children, Weld County Jail records show. He is being held without bail.  Frederick police officials announced Thursday night that they believed they had found the bodies of Bella Watts, 4, and Celeste Watts, 3, though they declined to say where the bodies were found.  “While we will not disclose the location as to where these bodies were located, police can say that they were found in close proximity to the other body whom officers strongly believe is (their mother) Shanann’s,” officials said on Facebook.  The body of Watts’ wife, Shanann Watts, was recovered earlier Thursday. John Camper, director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, said during a media briefing Thursday afternoon that investigators were “quite certain” the body was that of the 34-year-old woman, who was about 15 weeks pregnant when she and her daughters were reported missing Monday.  Chris Watts made his first court appearance Thursday afternoon, 9News in Denver reported. Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke told the court that the slayings took place in the family’s Frederick home.  Camper said Thursday that Shanann Watts’ remains were found on the property Anadarko Petroleum Corp., the oil and natural gas exploration company for which Chris Watts worked. 9News in Denver reported that Anadarko has multiple properties within 15 miles of Frederick. >> Related story: Colorado man who pleaded for return of missing wife, daughters arrested in deaths Anadarko released a statement in which a spokesperson said Watts was fired Wednesday, the day of his arrest, 9News reported.  “We are heartbroken by this, and our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones and friends of the Watts family,” the statement read. “We will continue to support law enforcement in its investigation.” Law enforcement officials also expressed sorrow over the homicides.  “This is absolutely the worst possible outcome that any of us could imagine,” Camper said Thursday. “I think our hearts are broken for the town of Fredrick as much as anybody’s.” Fredrick police officials said they received a call just before 2 p.m. Monday reporting Shanann, Bella and Celeste Watts missing. The report was made by a friend who went to the family’s home in the Wyndham Hill subdivision and found no sign of Shanann or the girls.  Chris Watts said in an interview Tuesday with 9News that he saw the woman at the front door, via the home’s doorbell camera, and realized his family was missing.  “I said, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ And she said, ‘I can’t get ahold of Shanann,’” Watts said. “That’s when I was just, like, ‘OK, something’s not right.’” He said he, too, had been unable to reach his wife via phone or text message.  See Chris Watts’ entire interview with 9News below. Shanann Watts’ vehicle, as well as her purse and medication for the children, were all still at the house, authorities said. Police on Tuesday upgraded the missing persons report to an “Endangered Missing Alert” because of the potential medical concerns with the children.  >> Related story: Report: Man with NC ties confesses to killing wife, 2 daughters in Colorado Investigators conducted multiple interviews and officers canvassed the family’s neighborhood for witnesses and clues. News of the missing mother and daughters soon went national, and Watts did his interview with 9News on Tuesday, in which he described his family’s disappearance as “earth-shattering.”  “I don’t feel like this is even real right now. It’s like a nightmare that I just can’t wake up from,” Watts told a reporter. >> Read more trending news Watts spoke in loving terms of his daughters.  “Celeste, she’s just a bottle of energy,” he said. “I call her ‘Rampage’ because she's got two speeds: go, or she’s sleeping. She’s always the troublemaker, she’s always the one, like, jumping off things. Bella, she’s the more calm, cautious, mothering type, and she’s more like me -- she’s more calm. Celeste has definitely got her mom’s personality, where she’s all gung-ho, ready to go.” The young father also addressed those who might think he had a hand in his family’s disappearance. “Everybody’s going to have their own opinion on anything like this,” Watts said. “I just want people to know that I want my family back. I want them safe and I want them here. This house is not the same.” Less than 24 hours later, Watts was in custody. A law enforcement source told 9News that Watts confessed to killing his wife and children. 
  • With Florida's Primary Election Day quickly approaching, WOKV is breaking down everything you need to know ahead of August 28th. VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINE:  In order to vote in the primaries, the Florida Division of Election says you needed to register to vote ahead of the July 30, 2018, deadline. If you missed that, you can register to vote between now and October 9, 2018, in order to vote in the General Election on November 6th.  SAMPLE BALLOTS:  Florida is a closed primary election state-- meaning only voters who are registered members of a political party can vote for that party's candidates or nominees. That means your sample ballot will vary, depending on which political party you're registered in. Ballots will also vary by county.  You can access sample ballots, by visiting the Supervisor of Elections website for your specific county. Links are posted below: Baker County Clay County Duval County Nassau County St. Johns County Sample ballots have also been mailed out. WHAT TO BRING: In order to cast your ballot, you’ll need to bring a photo and signature ID. This can include a Florida Driver’s License, Florida ID, a US passport, a military ID, a student ID, among other options. You can read more about ID requirements HERE. If you fail to bring proper identification, you will be issued a provisional ballot. HOW TO FIND YOUR PRECINCT Baker County voters, click HERE Clay County voters, click HERE Duval County, click HERE Nassau County, click HERE St. Johns County, click HERE EARLY VOTING DATES: Baker County  August 16, 2018 - August 25, 2018  Clay County  August 18, 2018 - August 25, 2018  Duval County August 13, 2018- August 26, 2018 Nassau County  August 17, 2018 - August 25, 2018  St. Johns County  August 18, 2018 - August 25, 2018
  • If you want to avoid the crowd on Florida's Primary Election Day, early voting kicks off on Monday in Duval County.  According to the Duval County Supervisor of Elections website, early voting for Duval County residents will begin Monday, August 13th, and run through Sunday, August 26th.  The county will be opening 18 early voting sites 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM each of the days:  The Supervisor of Elections Main Office will also be open, but the hours run 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sundays are from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  For early voting you will need to present a photo and signature ID. If you don't have an acceptable ID, you will be issued a provisional ballot.  To find a sample ballot, click HERE. Florida's Primary Election Day is August 28th.  Early voting dates for other Northeast Florida counties:  Baker County  August 16, 2018 - August 25, 2018  Clay County  August 18, 2018 - August 25, 2018  Nassau County  August 17, 2018 - August 25, 2018  St. Johns County  August 18, 2018 - August 25, 2018
  • Jacksonville Public Library needs your help to secure $25,000 worth of children’s books for our city.  JetBlue is giving out that prize, and a reading room makeover, to one of its destination cities. Right now, Jacksonville is in the lead, but Cleveland is a strong second, and voting continues through the end of the month.  Voting is unlimited, through the JetBlue Soar with Reading/Book With Us contest website. 16 cities are in the running, as finalists. Share this post on Facebook to help spread the word! 

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