I was sitting in my living room with my boyfriend. I will never forget that day. It was a Tuesday, and I was worried about my sister. She had not been answering anyone’s phone calls, and our family was very worried. I will never forget my phone ringing, and my mother’s frantic voice on the other end of the line. Rebekah had officially been declared a missing person, and blood had been found at the house she was staying in the previous weekend. When I heard the terror in my mother’s voice, and the horrifying details she was sharing, my heart dropped. I lost my breath like someone punched me in the gut. To say I was in shock was an understatement.
My intuition immediately told me something wasn’t right! The plan was for everyone to meet in Melbourne and start looking for her immediately. It was true that all her stuff was still at Casey’s—but Rebekah was not. One thing I never expected to hear was that someone in my family was missing, especially not one of my sisters. Your mind hopes they are at a friend’s house, got stranded somewhere with no means of communication, or that there was a natural explanation for their absence. I had to be honest with myself this time and say, “That just isn’t the case. This doesn’t feel right.”
I immediately knew without question that I had to go look for her. This cannot be happening—she was just at my house a couple of weeks ago. I could not process or even fathom Rebekah being gone. I randomly grabbed some clothes and necessities, and my boyfriend and I started the long drive to Melbourne from Conway. That drive never seemed so long.
My mind was reeling with questions! Where was she? Had someone kidnapped her? My mind even went to dangerous places no sister wants to find herself. Was someone raping my little sister at that exact moment? I hoped this was a simple miscommunication, and she was at a friend’s house oblivious that people were panicked and searching for her. I secretly prayed she had just forgotten to call one of us, even though that thought made me furious. As we drove those miles, I found myself completely lost in my thoughts, thoughts that were both dangerous and hopeful, and staring blankly out the window as the lush scenery flew by. Soon we were climbing that familiar curvy road up the mountain, and a wave of nausea washed over me.
My stomach pains became so sharp at one point that we pulled the car into an overlook area. I got out of the car, and after the feeling passed, I noticed a random, old refrigerator that had been dumped into the drop off. Remembering that police found blood at the home Rebekah had been staying in, I was reminded that she was hurt somewhere. My first instinct was to call out for Rebekah at the top of my lungs. Was she in that fridge? Could she be in that fridge struggling to get out while I stood there? Looking back, I was clearly having a panic attack, and my senses were at an all-time high. The fridge, calling her name, and the vast landscape of the valley was overwhelming. I asked myself, “How are we ever going to find her on this mountain? There is so much land to cover.”
“Rebekah where are you?” I screamed at the top of my lungs in a mix of panic and frustration. This next part may not make sense to some, but I know I heard her speak. It was like the air whispered in her voice and said “Gabby, I’m right here.” It didn’t sound human, but it sounded exactly like my sister. It was at that precise moment I felt Rebekah was gone. Before we even began searching, my gut told me she was gone, and I could not even understand how or why I knew. Call it a sister’s love, but I knew I would never see Rebekah smile again or hear her laugh.
I’m not sure if my boyfriend heard her voice as well, but something spooked him. He was so shaken that he jumped back in the car. Had it been anybody’s voice besides Rebekah’s that I heard, I probably would have run away as well. But I was not scared, and I actually found comfort in the experience. I knew she would want me to be strong for my mom, Tiffany, Danielle, and the rest of the women in our family.
I got back into the car, and we drove the rest of the way to Melbourne in silence. When the police department came into view, there were already people divided and huddled into groups. Everyone was as frantic as I was—”we can’t find her; we have to find her!” I blankly stared at everyone. How could I possibly explain what just happened? How could I break everyone’s heart or even begin to make sense of how I knew Rebekah was already gone? To this day I believe I did the right thing staying silent in that moment. Rebekah would have wanted me to protect our family and friends during this devastating time. I had to remain strong for everyone that couldn’t.
I held on to the hope I was wrong, to be honest. In a world where everyone wants to be right, I went to sleep and woke up praying I was wrong. I eventually had to go back to Conway, and the day they discovered Rebekah’s location, an officer came to my front door. I can distinctly remember him saying they had found her body, and she was in fact dead. He was so warm and understanding when he told me he was sorry for my loss.
One thing I have not mentioned yet in the story is the significance of the overlook area where we did not stop. My boyfriend and I almost stopped at an area earlier in our drive, but because we felt it looked dangerous, we pulled over at the next overlook. After I discovered where they found my sister’s body, it shocked me to learn that Rebekah had been left at that first, dangerous stop. That realization still haunts me to this day—had I only understood the significance of that whisper.
It wasn’t until years later that I told my mom the story I just shared with you.
It’s hard for me not to blame myself. I question if I would or could have seen her body. I have questioned for years if I could have saved her. I now know she was most likely not alive at that time, but I spent years wondering if she was still alive when we pulled over.
Reading and hearing about Rebekah’s case in these recent updates have been difficult for my family. Feeling as though Tiffany and myself cannot trust the media and they do not care about Rebekah’s real story has been a 14 year long struggle for us. Naturally we are thankful for the spotlight this has shone on our sister’s unsolved murder, but we also feel frustrated. We continually question the motives of those in the spotlight, and we worry that the truth is not being presented in the media.
People have asked me what I want to get from sharing my story now. What I want is to tell Rebekah’s true story. Her real story, not the inaccurate accounts portrayed in the media. What I want and ask of our readers is to be patient with us and our struggle with the flood of emotions and information. I am not just the sister of a murder victim, and I think people forget the humanity involved with a tragedy like this. We are still grieving for Rebekah. Truly what Tiffany, Danielle and myself ask is that you be patient with us as we continue to try and be strong until we get justice for Rebekah.