Frequently Asked Questions

Why didn’t we collect and process the panties in the trash?

As with many items seized during the service of a search warrant, the panties in the trash at the guest house were seized because we did not know what the significance of that item was at the time. Investigators have one chance to seize items at a search warrant service, so items must be seized even if there is only a possibility it may be related. The investigation revealed this item was likely related to a girl’s slumber party at the mansion in the days leading up to Rebecca’s death. They were not tested for evidence of sexual assault because that examination was conducted on Rebecca herself. No evidence of such a crime was found. They were not tested further because taking into consideration the size of the mansion, and the fact it was open to family and friends, we had to focus our investigation on items directly related to the event in question; items we knew had to be handled or disturbed during the course of the event as it unfolded. Fingerprints, DNA, and other items left behind in other areas of the mansion have limited value in proving or disproving a crime.

Why didn’t we process the blood in the shower?

The condition of the master bedroom lead investigators to believe Rebecca may have been in the shower during the time leading up to her death. The blood drop was very small, and there was evidence Rebecca was experiencing menstrual bleeding, or “spotting,” at the time. Similar blood drops were found outside the door leading to the guest room where the incident occurred. Those samples were tested, and they were found to be from Rebecca. Since the master bedroom is in another part of the mansion, and there was no evidence at the scene of the event suggesting anyone else was bleeding other than Rebecca, this item was not tested.

Why didn’t the bed move as much as it did on KFMB? If she hung herself, the bed would have jerked away further.

The experiment conducted by employees of KFMB did not recreate the scene in a manner sufficient to stand up to the scrutiny of scientific method. In order to conduct a truly scientific experiment of this nature, one would have to have the exact carpet and padding (which was quite thick), a bed frame of the same weight and weight distribution, a mattress of the same weight and weight distribution, and the item simulating Rebecca would have to be of the same weight, weight distribution, and would have to have the flexibility of a human body. In addition, the object simulating a human body would have to go over the railing in a manner similar to what the evidence showed (bending over and sliding). Unless these elements can be duplicated exactly, this test is of no scientific value. On scene examination of the bed showed it had compressed the carpet at the contact points, and the bed was found to be rather heavy. All of this taken into consideration, none of the investigators on scene questioned the distance the bed was pulled away from the wall.

Were there prints and DNA on the knives?

The small knife had Rebecca’s DNA, and only Rebecca’s DNA. No fingerprints were developed from this item. The large knife had Rebecca’s fingerprints, and only Rebecca’s fingerprints. A low level of DNA material was found on this knife as well, but it was not enough for any comparison.

Were there prints and DNA on the rope?

Rebecca’s DNA was found on the rope, particularly in areas that would have to be manipulated to tie the knots. Only Rebecca’s DNA was found on these items other than one “artifact,” which is a fragment of material that could be DNA, but does not contain enough information to determine who, or what, it came from (animals and plants also have DNA that can be left behind). The rope could not be fingerprinted.

Were there prints of her or anyone else in the house?

Rebecca’s prints were found in all areas of the incident scene, and on items directly related to the event (knife, paint tube). There was one fingerprint from a child found on the bed frame (possibly from Max), along with one other unidentified fingerprint. These two prints were from an area of the bedframe that was not near the location the rope was secured. Immediately around the area the rope was secured to the bed we found several of Rebecca’s prints, and only Rebecca’s prints. We fully expected to find many fingerprints in this house because, simply stated, it is a house. Anyone living in or visiting a residence can leave behind fingerprints, which is why we had to focus on items directly related to the event.

Why didn’t you follow-up with the neighbors when they heard screams?

A detailed statement was taken from the neighbor who heard a scream. The scream heard was about two and one-half hours before Rebecca’s voice mail was accessed on her phone, and the witness believed it could have been attributed to several teens which were in the area at the time. The witness could not tell exactly where the scream came from, but gestured to an area more toward the beach rather than the mansion. This interview was conducted the first day of the investigation.

Who logged onto her computer in the middle of the night?

There was activity on Rebecca’s computer the day before the incident. The forensic examination of the hard drive showed the file access at about 3:00 am the morning of the event was likely a “cookie” left behind by an automated update for a tool bar.

Who was walking around her house that night before she was killed?

The person walking around the mansion the evening before the incident was identified, and her actions matched those described by a witness who saw her. Simply stated, she was a family member looking to see if anyone was home at the mansion.

Why can’t you do handwriting comparisons with her suicide note?

The lettering used in the note left on the door was “block style” and was done with paint and a paint brush. Unless we were able to find other written notes or documents done by Rebecca or another identified person, using the same medium and style, no comparison can be done. With this type of lettering, comparison would not likely be conclusive in any event. We found the same paint on Rebecca’s body, the paint brush, in the paint tube, and on the door. The samples were matched using scientific analysis.

Why can’t I get copies of her file?

The case file has been provided to the family. We will not be releasing the investigation except under circumstances required by law.

Why did you rush your case?

We had between seven and fifteen investigators, in addition to Crime Lab personnel, looking into this case for seven weeks exclusively. There was no ”rush to judgment,” there was simply a large number of resources dedicated to this investigation full time. For the first seven to ten days of this investigation, it was widely believed among investigators this case was more likely to be a homicide. As the evidence began to come in, however, that belief began to change. Ultimately, the evidence convinced everyone involved this case was a suicide. No “rush to judgment,” no “tunnel vision.”

How did she learn these complex knots?

We don’t believe she did. These knots were not as complex as they have been made out to be, which is what we discovered when we attempted to recreate the knots on Rebecca’s wrists. Simply stated, this is one of those questions which will most likely never be answered with any certainty.