A break in the long-unsolved Rebekah Gould murder case came in November 2020 with the arrest of 44-year-old William Alma Miller. Gould, 22, went missing on or about September 20, 2004. At the time of her disappearance, she was staying with a friend, Casey McCullough, in his mobile home near Melbourne. A week later, searchers found her partially clad body in a ravine off AR Hwy 9. Her nose was broken, and she had sustained multiple skull fractures, which caused her death. It could not be determined if a sexual assault had occurred, due to the body being exposed to the elements. Dental records confirmed her identity. Her car, keys, purse and money were still at the mobile home. 


Miller, who is McCullough’s cousin, worked in the oil industry and had been in the Philippines prior to his arrest in Lane County, Oregon. He was extradited to Arkansas and arraigned in Izard County Circuit Court on a first-degree murder charge. He entered a plea of not guilty. Prosecutor Eric Hance was quoted as saying, “Miller’s name has appeared in the case file from day one.”


Gould had attended Ozarka College in Melbourne before transferring to Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville. She planned to enroll at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, where she shared an apartment with her sister, Danielle. Their father, Mountain Home dentist Dr. Larry Gould, once described Rebekah as, “a daughter that any father would be proud of.”


The original detective on the case said he knew who committed the murder but lacked the evidence to move forward with charges. After it languished for years without any developments, Catherine Townsend, a writer and private detective, started a podcast called Hell and Gone with the purpose of using that as a tool to jump-start the Gould investigation. She says, “There was literally dust on the case file,” when she got it. Townsend felt a personal connection to the case because her sister was a friend to one of Gould’s sisters. The podcaster spent time in the area getting to know the local people and earning their trust. They opened up to her, saying everybody knew who committed the murder. The podcast received more than 100 tips, and among them was a call from the alleged killer himself. Miller said he had heard something at work but wasn’t specific.


Rebekah Gould

Besides inserting himself into Townsend’s podcast, Miller also wrote to a Facebook page created by private detective Jen Bucholtz and journalist/author George Jared. Bucholtz and Jared hosted the online discussion for people following the case. Miller joined it and was on it for a year prior to his arrest. 


Bucholtz says, “Obviously, there were no huge red flags or I would have reported it. He was like any other member of the group who wanted to brainstorm the case and explore different aspects of it.”


Killers have been known to insinuate themselves into investigations of crimes they have committed in order to keep abreast of what detectives know. Some may do it for a thrill, thinking they are outsmarting the officials. Wayne Williams, believed by authorities to be the Atlanta Child Murderer, was a police groupie, listening to their actions through a scanner. He decked out his vehicle with flashing red lights and once impersonated a policeman. Serial killer Mark Alan Smith joined volunteers in searches for his own murder victims and even led them to the bodies.


Eventually, Arkansas State Police (ASP) Special Agent Mike McNeill was assigned to the Gould case. With a pair of fresh eyes on it, the investigation kicked into high gear. McNeill went back to the beginning, according to Bucholtz, and brought in people who had been interviewed in 2004. They took polygraph tests and gave DNA samples. It isn’t known what forensic evidence detectives may have. 


“They’re being very tight-lipped,” Bucholtz says.


Indeed, law enforcement officials were asked to comment on the case for this article, but they were not at liberty to do so.   


The location where Gould’s murder occurred was always thought to be McCullough’s residence, specifically in the bedroom. Although the killer or killers tried to clean it up, a considerable amount of blood was found there; a bloody mattress had been flipped over, and bloody bed linen was in the washing machine. 

William Alma Miller.

Bucholtz wonders aloud, “Why does [the killer] care about taking that immense risk? Staying at the scene, transporting the body in whatever vehicle he used, cleaning up blood, doing laundry. He took a huge risk. He doesn’t know if a member of the family’s going to show up, or if a neighbor comes knocking.”


In a statement regarding Miller’s arrest, the ASP said he was a Texas man visiting Izard County in 2004. 


Bucholtz adds, “His mom and younger brother had moved up to the Melbourne area sometime in the summer of 2004, and he came up a few days before the murder to see them. In September of this past year, I got tips from two different people who don’t know each other, and it was the same tip, and the tip was that the brother had been unenrolled from Mount Pleasant High School (in Izard County) a day or two after Rebekah went missing, and that he and his mother left the state of Arkansas and went back to their home in Texas.”


Miller is being held in the Izard County Jail at least until a bond hearing scheduled for March 30, 2021. A jury trial is set for August. The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic would not violate a defendant’s right to a speedy trial. Most court records pertaining to Miller are sealed. When a judge takes that action, he or she might be considering the possibility of more developments in an ongoing investigation. The high-profile nature of the case may also be a factor in the judge’s ruling. Defense teams can make allegations of jury bias caused by too much exposure, corrupting the court of law in the court of public opinion.


Internet sleuths bat around theories and suppositions and can keep a spotlight on a dormant case until it is revived. On the flip side, they could spread misinformation unintentionally. What then, is the general effect of social media in criminal analyses?


“It’s kind of a double-edged sword,” says Faulkner County Sheriff Investigator Kent Hill. “We ask for the public’s help if a person is missing or if we have a wanted person out there. On the other hand, they may release something that doesn’t need to be released right now. There’s nothing really we can do to stop it. Usually, we’ll ask them not to say anything on Facebook or anything like that. Normally, they don’t, but sometimes the victims don’t think we’re going as fast as they want us to go, and they’ll just do it themselves, and sometimes that hinders us.”


Meanwhile, the Gould case seems to be inching closer to a conclusion, but as Bucholtz says, “This is a whole new chapter in a whole new book, and we’re just basically on the first paragraph. At least we got some progress on the case.” 


Read Janie Jones’ original article here.


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