AUGUSTA — A Pennsylvania woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to burglary and four other charges related to a series of bizarre events last December in China.

Jessica Rose Rohwer, 38, of Scott Township, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 10 months in jail for the burglary and concurrent 30-day sentences for assault, theft, criminal mischief and criminal trespass and ordered to pay restitution of $1,358 for damages. The hearing took place at the Capital Judicial Center.

The state agreed to return the $38,200 in cash seized from Jessica Rohwer’s purse on Dec. 21, 2017.

After some discussion with the attorneys, Justice William Stokes ordered the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office to turn over the money to Tom Nale, the attorney for Robert Rohwer, Jessica’s husband.

Stokes ordered the money turned over and ordered Jessica Rohwer’s restitution, court fees and attorney’s fees to be paid from that.

It was not made clear in the courtroom why the couple would have been carrying that much money.


The vehicle the couple was traveling in was the subject of a high-speed chase through Vassalboro, Winslow and China, and it later caught fire.

The chase began on Riverside Drive in Vassalboro, according to an affidavit by Deputy Jeffrey Boudreau, of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office. The deputy said he saw a white Ford Expedition pass him going north at an estimated 100 mph and then almost collide with a southbound vehicle while passing another motorist.

Jessica Rohwer told police at the time that she and her husband fled because “people are after them.” She was a passenger in the vehicle.

The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Tracy DeVoll, said Tuesday that both Rohwers fled the scene, and Jessica Rowher was bleeding when she entered a stranger’s home on Lakeview Drive in China and demanded keys to a vehicle.

DeVoll said Rohwer was able to grab keys and got into a Jeep when the homeowner pulled her out of it, getting her blood on him. She apparently had cut her hand trying to open a window.

In exchange for Jessica Rohwer’s guilty pleas, the state dismissed a second burglary charge involving a different home.


Jessica Rohwer started crying as the judge explained some of the collateral consequences of having a burglary conviction, such as being prohibited from having firearms.

He asked her if she wanted a break in the proceedings, and she declined.

Rohwer, whose long, dark hair was hanging almost to her waist, wore a dark green jail uniform, and spoke softly, saying “guilty” five times in response to the judge’s questions.

Rohwer’s attorney, Lisa Whittier, has asked for the return of the money and two gold chains also removed from the vehicle.

The state has failed to show any nexus between the property seized and the criminal offenses.

DeVoll said the victims were consulted about the plea deal.


The case against Robert E. Rohwer, also known as Robert Oien and Ashley Smith, is set for a docket call on May 9.

Two different dates of birth were listed for him, making him either 33 or 35, and indicating he is from Peckville, Pennsylvania.

He was indicted on charges of eluding an officer, driving to endanger and criminal speed, all dated Dec. 21, 2017, in Vassalboro.

Previously, another assistant district attorney said there were non-extraditable warrants for Rohwer’s arrest from Washington state and from Oregon.

Both Rohwers have been held at the Kennebec County jail in lieu of bail since their arrest Dec. 21, 2017.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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