Warning: Certain details in this story may be uncomfortable for some readers. Please be advised.

CLAYTON, Mo. – The trial of a St. Louis County man accused of murdering his pregnant wife continued for a second day, as prosecutors produced social media messages to show Beau Rothwell had planned to kill Jennifer Rothwell in order to be with his mistress.

Beau was charged with second-degree murder and evidence tampering for the November 2019 slaying of his wife, who was six weeks pregnant at the time, at their home near Creve Coeur.

St. Louis County prosecutors shared a Facebook conversation from Oct. 30, 2019, between Beau Rothwell and the woman with whom he was having an affair.

One text reads: “Part of me wants this pregnancy to not work out.” Another says, “If there is a miscarriage or something I’ll leave her after that and be with you.”

The latter message is one of three options Beau and the woman came up with for their relationship going forward.

  • Option 1 – End things altogether and cease contact.
  • Option 2 – Beau would admit to an affair and seek a divorce from Jennifer.
  • Option 3 – See if a miscarriage or something happens. In which case, Beau would leave Jennifer for his mistress.

At trial Tuesday, the prosecuting implied Beau’s use of “or something” in the message could have meant he was already planning to kill his wife.

Texting days later, Beau and his mistress settled on the third option, but with a caveat: if Jennifer’s pregnancy continued and there were no complications, they would go back to option 1. In another text, Beau sent the woman a shirtless selfie and said, “Hugging you felt so good today.” Additional messages indicate Beau slept with the woman on November 1.

The prosecution told jurors that Rothwell smashed his wife’s skull in the basement of the couple’s home “with such violent, homicidal force” that she bled out on their basement carpet.

The prosecutor and Detective Justin Whiteside, the lead detective on the case, displayed a carpet in the courtroom and held up padding with several large, dark stains showing where blood had accumulated. The stains were so severe they appeared on the concrete beneath the padding and the tack strips. Whiteside described it as “saturation staining.”

Whiteside also testified police found the Rothwells’ basement smelled of cleaning products and the carpet was still damp when they arrived at the home to conduct a search of the property. Detectives also noticed a small oscillating fan had been turned on in the basement and that a large pile of towels were still damp in the laundry room.

Rothwell’s lawyer did not dispute that Beau struck a fatal blow to his wife’s head, but the defense said it was not premeditated. The lawyer said it was an act of sudden passion after an argument in which Beau told Jennifer that he’d been having an affair.

Defense attorney Charles Barberio said on November 11—the day of Jennifer’s death—the couple had discussed altering their insurance policy to include a baby, making the case Beau did not plan on killing his wife.

Barberio is attempting to convince the jury Jennifer fell down the basement steps during a confrontation with her husband and struck her head on a corner protrusion, causing her to bleed out.

Prosecutor Tom Smith played audio of Beau Rothwell telling St. Louis County detectives where they could find Jennifer’s body. The detective who located her body along Highway 61 in Lincoln County testified that Rothwell did not use Jennifer’s name or female pronouns when telling authorities how to find her. In the audio, Rothwell refers to the body as “it” and says there is a black plastic bag covering “the head.”

Prosecutors also produced graphic images from when Jennifer Rothwell’s body was discovered and during the eventual autopsy. Jennifer’s body was located on the evening of Nov. 18, 2019, along the southbound lanes of Highway 61. She had been hidden beaneath some heavy brush and shrubs. The detective who found Jennifer described said he noticed a “pale object” in the brush and went to examine the area closer. That’s when he noticed two bare feet sticking out from the brush.

Jennifer was found nude and in the fetal position. The black plastic bag that had been covering her head was partially torn open from scavaging animals. The detective said he could see a large depression in Jennifer’s head from a couple of feet away.

Dr. Gershom Norfleet, a forensic pathologist with the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s Office, testified Jennifer Rothwell ultimately died of “blunt cranial cerebral trauma” and said there was no way her skull was fractured as a result of fists, or a fall, or an animal. The doctor said Jennifer suffered as many as three blows to her head, the worst of which fractured the right side of her skull and knocked her unconscious.

When asked to describe the severity of trauma to Jennifer’s skull, Norfleet said it would be akin to somebody being launched from a car during a high-speed crash and striking the pavement, a person falling off a large building, or an individual suffering a gunshot wound to the head. Norfleet said Jennifer suffered these injuries before her death.

The trial is scheduled to continue Thursday. It’s not clear if Beau Rothwell will testify on his own behalf.