It took detectives 16 years to solve the mysterious killing of Rebekah Gould, a 22-year-old Northwest Arkansas Community College student. Gould was found bludgeoned to death near a highway a few days after she was reported missing from her boyfriend's Guion home. The attack on her took place inside the house, as suggested by a trail of blood evidence left behind by the killer.
Authorities were only able to make an arrest in connection with Gould's murder in November 2020. The man arrested was 44-year-old William Miller, the first cousin of the victim's then-boyfriend Casey McCullough.
Miller reportedly confessed to the killing, stating that on September 20, 2004, he entered the house under the pretense of wanting to use the phone and attacked her with a piano leg. He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder two years after his arrest and was handed 40 years in prison.
NBC Dateline will further delve into the nearly two-decades-old murder of Rebekah Gould in an episode titled Secrets in the Ozarks. The synopsis for the upcoming episode says:
"When the body of 22-year-old college student Rebekah Gould is found a week after she vanished, theories about her murder run rampant through the Arkansas Ozarks. Dennis Murphy reports."
The all-new two-hour episode is scheduled to air this Friday, June 2, at 9:00 pm ET.
Rebekah Gould's murder: Five quick facts to know about the 2004 beating death of the Arkansas college student
1) Gould was staying at her boyfriend's house when she was murdered
Rebekah Gould was a student at the Northwest Arkansas Community College located in Bentonville and reportedly drove to Melbourne with her sister in September 2004. There, she was expected to spend the weekend with her boyfriend, Casey McCullough, at his Guion home.
On the morning of September 20, Gould reportedly dropped off her boyfriend at work and then stopped at a neighborhood convenience store "to get coffee and a couple of breakfast sandwiches before heading back to McCullough's house." That was the last time she was seen alive. The following day, the 22-year-old was reported missing by her family.
2) Rebekah Gould's body was found a few days after she was reported missing
Gould was reported missing on September 21, one day after she was last seen alive. The following day, authorities arrived at her boyfriend's house to conduct a welfare check when they found a trail of blood, including a bloody mattress that was flipped over in the bedroom, blood-stained sheets and bedding in the washing machines, and blood-covered walls throughout the house. Moreover, her car, phone, purse, dog, clothes, and other personal items were still in the house.
A few days later, on September 27, her body was found thrown off a 35-foot embankment off Arkansas State Highway 9. Reports state that she had been bludgeoned to death and died of two fatal blows to the head while other reports mention that she was also strangled.
3) Her boyfriend, Casey McCullough told police he did not return home on September 20, 2004
According to NEA Report, Rebekah Gould's then-boyfriend McCullough informed police that he did not return home on September 20, when he saw the 22-year-old for the last time. He was allegedly out with friends for a movie and dinner and spent the night at a friend's place. The next morning, he even returned home to collect work clothes but failed to see the crime scene at his house, which seemed nearly impossible given that there was blood strewn all over the house.
Investigators initially declared McCullough a person of interest given that the crime took place at his home, but he was never formally identified as a suspect. Moreover, Gould's belongings were left behind at the house along with other bloody evidence. There was also large amounts of bleach across the house, which suggested that the killer tried to clean up the scene.
4) Detectives started a Facebook group which led them to another potential suspect
Although detectives never stopped looking for Rebekah Gould's killer continually following false and useless leads, the case only garnered significant attention nearly 16 years later when Special Agent Mike McNeill was assigned to it. McNeill believed that if her boyfriend wasn't behind the murder, there was a possibility that someone from his family was involved.
The investigation soon centered around one of Casey McCullough's first cousins named William Miller, who allegedly visited the home where Gould was murdered that same night. Moreover, he was initially interrogated in connection with the victim's disappearance, but no solid evidence was ever found against him.
As the case progressed, garnering significant media attention, detectives created a Facebook page in an effort to track Gould's murderer. They stated that Miller was among the first to join the group. In fact, he sent multiple messages, sharing his ideas and views about the murder, over the course of 10 months. This raised suspicions.
5) William Miller failed a polygraph test and ultimately confessed to the slaying
Miller was soon asked to take a polygraph test which he reportedly failed. Detectives then tricked him into confessing to Rebekah Gould's murder in November 2020. He revealed that he entered the house under the ruse of using the phone because of car troubles.
Overwhelmed by a psychotic urge to kill Gould, he used a loose piano leg to strike her twice in the head while she lay in her bed and used a necktie to strangle her before wrapping her body in a sheet, loading in in the back of the truck, and driving it to the dump site. He was charged with murder.
Two years later, Miller pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was handed a 40-year prison sentence.
Rebekah Gould's shocking case is set to feature on NBC Dateline's Friday episode on June 2.