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More than 16 years after Rebekah Gould’s body was found on a hillside off an Arkansas highway, authorities have arrested the man they believe is responsible for her murder.
William Alama Miller, 44, is now facing first-degree murder charges in the 2004 death of Rebekah Christian Gould, a 22-year-old community college student who vanished after dropping her boyfriend off at work.
Gould disappeared on the morning of Sept. 20, 2004 after she dropped her boyfriend off at work. She was spotted later that morning at a Melbourne, Arkansas convenience store but then her trail went cold, People reports.
Gould had been visiting friends in Guion at the time. She had been planning to meet up with her sister to head back to Fayetteville, where she was a student at Northwest Arkansas Community College, around the time she disappeared. But, Gould never met up with her sister or returned to the college.
When investigators searched the Izard County house where she had been staying at the time she vanished, they found a large amount of blood throughout the home, according to the Baxter Bulletin. Gould’s car, car keys, purse and money had all been left behind at the house.
Her disappearance sparked a large, community-based search across Melbourne and Izard counties, according to a statement from the Arkansas State Police announcing Miller’s arrest.
Seven days after she vanished, her body was discovered on a hillside off Arkansas Highway 9, south of Melbourne.
Authorities believed the cause of death had been a single slow to her head, according to the local paper.
For years, no arrests were made in the case until Miller was taken into custody Saturday night at his home in Cottage Grove, Oregon.
Authorities made the arrest after they learned that Miller had returned home following “an extended stay in the Philippines,” the Arkansas State Police said.
At the time of Gould’s death, Miller had been living in Texas but had been visiting Izard County in 2004, authorities said.
Authorities did not provide any further details about whether the two had known each other or a possible motive in the slaying, but Gould’s sister Tiffany Ballard Moore told local outlet KY3 that Miller had been the cousin of the man Gould had been dating at the time.
“I can say that Rebekah was probably one of the strongest people I knew in my entire life,” Moore said. “Anybody that knew her could say that about her.”
Although it took 16 years for investigators to make an arrest, authorities said the murder was never a cold case.
“The special agents assigned to this case never abandoned any hope of finding the necessary evidence and facts to lead them to a suspect and an arrest,” ASP Director Col. Bill Bryant said. “This case is a testament to the Criminal Investigation Division and the devotion the special agents assigned to the division possess in helping police and sheriff’s department across Arkansas with their toughest cases.”
After news of Miller’s arrest broke, writer and private investigator Catherine Townsend, who investigated the case in her “Hell and Gone” podcast, took to social media to address the arrest.
“I have experienced a range of emotions over the past 24 hours,” she said. “Right now I’m a mixture of shock and hope that this leads to closure for Rebekah’s family.”
Miller is currently being held at the Lane County Jail in Eugene, Oregon pending an extradition hearing.
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