Old-Fashioned Investigative Work


Rebekah, Danielle, and Larry.

In our second week, we are still getting a grip on the facts of the case, and we continue our deep dive into the final days of Rebekah's life. Who were her friends? Who were her "more than friends"? And who could have wanted her dead?

To answer these questions, we have to dig deeper into the relationship between Rebekah and two people rumored to be main suspects: Chris and J.B.

The body recovery site near Devil's Knob.

In the movies or on TV, investigators simply show up and knock on the door of the person they want to talk to. But in real life, finding people is often hard. Especially in this neck of the woods. When PIs or reporters conduct surveillance in a big city like New York, they can blend into the crowd. But in the Ozarks, it's pretty much impossible to be anonymous.

Finding Rebekah's story in the Stone County Leader archives.

Everyone knows everyone else's car, and it's not like an out-of-state license plate is going to go unnoticed. Also, some of the addresses that we are looking for don't show up on maps or GPS. So we work to develop local sources who can give us inside information on where people are living. We can't rely on rumor or gossip - if we want to know what really happened we have to go straight to the source. We have to find them.

My grandmother's SUV at the spot where Rebekah's body was found.

During our outreach to try to locate JB and Chris, we talk to Alicia and Jesse, who both shed some light on Rebekah's routine, and her relationships in the weeks before she was killed. We have conducted hundreds - maybe thousands - of interviews during this case (and are collecting more every day) and every single one is important. As we work to figure out what happened to Rebekah, hearing all of the rumors that are out there will ultimately help us sort fact from fiction.

We also have been exploring other rumors we've heard: Was a white car crushed after the murder? Could Rebekah's body have been put into a trunk, kept in another location and then dumped on the side of the road?

The remoteness of the area is a constant struggle for the investigation, particularly in terms of access to the internet and reliable cell coverage. Which not only makes coordinating the investigation difficult but makes it especially scary when the cellphone clicks to "no signal." This week, I find myself in an area with no cell reception as I finally track down J.B., and hear his side of the story for the first time.