TRAVERSE CITY — When cage fighter Charlie Rowan didn’t show up for a mixed martial arts fight a few months back in Traverse City, his fellow fighters immediately worried for his well-being.
Their concern quickly turned to grief when Rowan’s girlfriend, Rosalinda Martinez, told organizers of the Caged Aggression fight series that Rowan was dead — killed in a devastating car accident — on his way to a scheduled bout at Streeters.
“I felt horrible,” said Christos Piliafas, a professional fighter and owner of Caged Aggression. “A fighter on their way to fight at (our event) gets in a real bad car accident? It’s something you don’t want to even think about.”
What followed next was an outpouring of support from Traverse City's mixed martial arts community. Money was raised for Rowan’s funeral and burial expenses, with many fighters donating from their own pocket. Their Caged Aggression fight event March 9 at Streeters was named the “Fight for Charlie.”
“We were on the radio talking about it, promoting it,” Piliafas said. “It was all about Charlie.”
But this week, Piliafas and others learned Charlie Rowan is not only very much alive — he's in jail.
Earlier this week, local television stations broadcast news of a violent robbery in Gladwin County. Reports showed the mugshots of familiar faces: Rowan and Martinez, described by law enforcement as “persons of interest” in the disturbing beating of a Gladwin gun store owner.
Gladwin County Sheriff Mike Shea said Thursday Rowan is in custody at the Gladwin County jail. He's suspected of pulling the same faked death scam in central Michigan as well.
“Somebody from the Midland area — he did the same thing,” Shea said.
Shea declined to say whether Rowan is formally charged in the gun store robbery. The gun store owner is in critical condition from a beating with a hammer.