Left and Center: Rebecca circa, 1991
Right: Age Progressed to age 31
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: October 21, 1991
Missing From: Spokane, Spokane County, Washington
Classification: Non-Family Abduction
Date Of Birth: September 17, 1979
Age: 12 years old
Height and Weight: 4’7″ and 90 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: White Female, Blonde hair, Brown eyes, Rebecca’s ears are pierced, her hair was a dark shade of blonde at the time of her 1991 disappearance and her nickname is “Becky”
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A black shirt, black pants, and a black pair of shoes
NCMEC Number: 760741
Details of Disappearance
Rebecca was allegedly abducted along with her friend, Iryll “Nicki” Wood, from Spokane, Washington on October 21st 1991. She and Nicki asked for money from Nicki’s mother so they could go and purchase snacks at a convenience store in their West Gardner neighborhood. They never returned home that evening and have never been seen or heard from again.
Their families reported them as missing to the police when they didn’t return. Two hours after there were reported missing, the badly burnt body of Nicki Wood was discovered in an area known as the “Seven Mile Area”. Her body was under a pile of bring pine needles and had been set ablaze with a flammable liquid.
The body was identified as belonging to her two days later. There was no evidence of Rebecca at the scene and she wasn’t located despite extensive searches and investigations. Despite this investigators believe she was murdered along with Wood. Her family hoped for a bit of time that she was still alive but now accept she’s likely deceased.
Michael W. Tarbert was immediately named as a suspect in the case. He admitted to being a drug addict and alcoholic but maintained he wouldn’t hurt anyone. He lived in a cabin not far from where the remains of Wood were discovered and was well acquainted with her mother.
He was questioned by police regarding the cases but maintained his innocence and admitted to seeing the girls on the day of their abduction. Witnesses saw the two girls entering his vehicle; he said he gave them a ride and then dropped them off about a block away from Wood’s home.
Tarbert was staying at Wood’s residence during the day of the crime and it was the first day he had ever met West. Nicki’s mother said she went to the store to get Tarbert a beer and when she came back, the girls left with money to get snacks. Tarbert also left shortly after the girls did.
The reason he was staying with the Woods was because he was wanted for raping his 49 year old landlady. He apparently offered to take her to a bar but instead drove her to a secluded wooded area. He allegedly raped her and stole approximately $400 from her purse. He was arrested a day after the girls went missing for the rape. He was charged with 1st degree rape and theft.
He was convicted of that crime in 1992 and sentenced to 11 years in prison. On January 16th 1996, Tarbert was formally charged with murdering both girls in 1991. There was a lot of circumstantial evidence which showed he was the one who likely killed both the girls.
Bloodhounds were able to trace Tarbert’s scent from the cabin he lived in to the spot where Wood’s body would later be discovered. They also smelled the scents of both girls at the cabin. Investigators also found that a DNA analysis showed blood which was found on Tarbert’s pants likely came from Nicki. Two prison inmates also testified that he admitted to killing the girls while under the influence of drugs.
He later entered a no contest plea to two counts of 1st degree manslaughter. This occurred in May of 1998 and approximately 4 days before his trial was to begin. He claimed he only took the plea to avoid potential 1st degree murder charges which carried a life sentence. He maintains his innocence in the case but was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for the murders.
Rebecca was described as a kind and lovely child who was shy on the inside but a bundle of joy. Her mother and father were divorced at the time. Her remains have never been recovered but she’s presumed to be murdered.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Spokane County Sheriffs Office 509-532-9266