I am passionate about missing persons cases due to a personal family experience of having someone go missing in my family.
Rebecca was born on March 11, 1987, in Chester, England in the United Kingdom. She lived with her parents and sister and had two foster brothers. She went to Chester Catholic High school and even joined the British Army cadets. After high school, she attended Plymouth University at Exeter and studied sports science.
She worked at the Chester Zoo, as had her relatives in the past, and she even participated in some outdoor events. It was very clear she loved children and the outdoors. She was a bubbly person who was likable and very caring.
In June of 2010, she went to London for an interview. She was trying to get a job on a Disney cruise, along with hundreds of other hopeful people. After she was accepted and hired on, she went to the company's Florida theme park for four days of training. She became a youth counselor on the Disney cruise ship and worked on the ship for four months. She requested two months off; during this period, her grandfather had passed away. She went back to her hometown for two weeks to spend time with her family then spend the rest of the time on her own having fun until she had to go back to work. That was the last time her family would see her in person.
Rebecca went back to work on the cruise ship, Disney Wonder, that was based in the port of Los Angeles and was on the ship for six weeks until the day of her disappearance. The ship went to the Mexican Riviera and through the Panama Canal in those six weeks. Rebecca would contact her parent’s on a regular basis via Facebook and Skype. On the 21st of March, 2011, she sent what would be her last message to her parents on Facebook saying she’d call them the next day. The ship left the Los Angeles port this day to begin a new cruise.
Twelve hours later on March 22, Rebecca's parents got a phone call hoping it was from their daughter. It was instead an official from Disney calling to inform them that their daughter was missing.
At 9 AM Pacific time, Rebecca had missed her morning shift. The ship was just off the coast of Mexico bound for Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. Rebecca wasn't in her room and crew couldn't locate her anywhere else on the ship. They even tried to page her over the ships public address system but she never showed up. They reviewed the ships security camera and found just one appearance of her at 5:45 AM. Another crew member had claimed Rebecca had gone overboard at 3 AM, nearly three hours earlier, but this claim was unverified.
In the footage, it appears Rebecca was distressed and was on the ships internal phone in the crew quarters. A young man walks up to her and appears to ask if she’s alright. She nods and then walks away from him. Even with the Wonder’s numerous surveillance cameras, it is still possible for Rebecca to find a blind spot in such a large ship. The ship itself can accommodate 2,400 passengers with 875 staterooms and around 1,000 crew members. The ship has 11 public decks across the 1,000 foot ship and with that many people and that much space, it’s easy for Rebecca to go undetected somewhere.
The captain of the ship notified the Coast Guard after learning of Rebecca's disappearance. The U.S. Coast Guard and Mexican Navy took to searching the international waters that the Wonder had sailed during the time Rebecca could have gone overboard. Sadly they found nothing, so the Bahamas Maritime Authority including the Royal Bahamas Police Force and FBI, were now involved. At this time, Rebecca's parents were on a plane heading toward the ship as was a detective from the Royal Bahamas Police Force to investigate the ship after it returned to port in Los Angeles.
The detective was said to have undertaken “several days of on board investigations.” however, when Rebecca's parents talked to the Bahamian Detective, he said he only spent one day on board investigating before flying back home. He had only interviewed a handful of crew members and none of the passengers on the ship. The Bahamian police claimed there was no foul play in her disappearance.
Disney had a private car with blacked out windows waiting for her parent’s and only after the passengers had disembarked were they allowed to go through a back entrance to meet with the captain and some crew. Her parents had this to say;
“Everything was staged by Disney. We were taken in a car with blacked out windows, on the boat’s back entrance, as passengers disembarked from the front. They took us to a room where they played the CCTV footage of Rebecca where, largely, she appears to be fine.”
The captain of the ship gave his condolences and claimed Rebecca probably went overboard by a wave while in the crew pool. Her parent’s doubt this claim because of the very high walls around this area. After this, her parents were given Rebecca's personal belongings. They also gave them a pair of flip-flop shoes that they claim were Rebecca's and had been found at the edge of Deck 5, the crew pool area. Her parents say these aren't her shoes as they have someone else’s name written on the side with a different cabin number.
A few weeks later Rebecca's parents got an email from her bank saying there had been some activity on her account. Her credit card had been used, and there was hope for her parents that their daughter might still be alive. Her parents reached out to social media to plead for her safe return.
In October 2011, Jon Robson, a journalist for the Guardian, got the Coriam’s blessing to do an undercover type investigation. He went on the Wonder and took the same rout it did when Rebecca went missing. He discreetly asked questions to crew members who were on the cruise at the time Rebecca went missing. These crew members wished to remain anonymous.
These crew members said that Disney and the Bahamian police knew more about her fate then what they had publicly stated. A lot of the crew had been told to say it never happened or that they don’t know anything if asked about Rebecca's disappearance. After this reporter investigated more of the open areas of the ship where passengers are allowed to be, he decided Rebecca probably slipped on Deck 4 while jogging on the jogging track. This area had low railings that could have allowed an accident to happen. Rebecca liked to regularly exercise to keep herself in shape, however, that area of the ship is very well covered by security cameras. When Ronson brought this up to a deck worker, he said everybody knows she went overboard on Deck 5. He was told to go up to Deck 10 and look down were the crew pool was visible. He did this and the railings around the pool is a steel wall that’s high enough to block any view from the guests and Ronson said he couldn't understand how anybody would be able to jump or fall from that area. He also noticed speciously mounted security cameras that could have been placed in the pool area after the incident. One crew member claimed that Disney knows exactly what happened and that they have the tape of the incident, that Disney tapes everything. They told him that the phone call Rebecca had made in the security camera was recorded.
In September 2011, her family had hope once again as Rebecca's Facebook password was changed after her family took control of it. They had logged in to investigate more and to try to find clues as to what happened with her. Rebecca's uncle, John, told her parents that her password had been changed from her original one. I can’t find any information if anything has been posted on her profile after the password had been changed.
One year after her disappearance, Rebecca's father got an e-mail from a woman who claims she had seen Rebecca with a dark-haired man in Venice, Italy during the previous August. This woman said she was “85% sure” it was Rabecca. Seeing her pictures on the families website had jostled her memory and she wanted to contact them to let them know. Her father shared it with the family and Rebecca's uncle said it was just an email but it felt like a legitimate lead. It was very upsetting for everybody that was now thinking she could have been out there with someone after all this time. Rebecca didn't have her passport as it was with her belongings in the ship, so they are unsure as to how she could have gotten there. There was an investigation in Italy but Rebecca was not found.
Rebecca's parent’s eventually hired private investigators and they said they did not see any evidence of suicide and said there was a possibility of foul play. The investigators also analyzed the flip-flop shoes given to her parents and concluded they did not belong to Rebecca, giving further doubt to Disney’s theory that she fell from Deck 5.
Lawsuit Against Disney
In March 2014, the Coriams sued Disney for failing in their duty to care and keep their daughter safe. The family also claimed they waited four hours to notify the U.S. Coast Guard and almost seven hours to notify the authority with jurisdiction of the investigation, the Bahamian Police. Disney denied this and said their claims had no merit. The family and Disney settled out of court sometime in 2015. I tried to look for more information about this case but I was unable to find any more on this lawsuit.
Relationship and Sexual Assault
Rebecca had made a close friend on the cruise ship and she confided in her about her personal life. Her name was Melissa and she told Ronson that Rebecca's relationship with her partner was very intense both when it was great and when it was awful. Melissa thinks she might have been on the phone with her partner and that was why she was so distraught around the time she went missing. Melissa said that while bubbly, Rebecca was also a risk taker and loved being on Deck 5. She would sometimes climb over the large steel wall to sit on the edge of the boat and she may have done so that night/morning to clear her head and didn't realize she had made a mistake until it was too late.
An update in this story said her parents believed she could have been sexually assaulted and murdered after while Disney still claims she was swept overboard by a freak wave. Later information came in that her friends said she had a threesome with fellow colleagues on the ship that had traumatized her just hours before she was seen on the phone in the surveillance video. The two colleagues that had participated in the threesome were Tracie Medley and Deven Hyde. The two are not suspected to be involved in any wrongdoing. Private investigators said Rebecca had an intense relationship with Tracie but during the threesome it was the first time she had sex with Deven Hyde. Staff said Rebecca became upset when she realized Tracie was getting close to Deven. This was said to have made her leave the cabin distraught and traumatized state. Private investigators going over the video think she may have been heading to the medical unit on Deck 1 where she was seen on the phone.
The head of security on the ship, Mark Rotherham said Rebecca told him she was pressured into having sex with Deven in order to continue a relationship with her girlfriend Tracie. He said she was very uncomfortable with the situation and he believes it was her first time being with a man. When Rebecca was seen on the CCTV she was wearing men’s clothing and was seen holding her head and looking very distressed. It was also found out that the person she called on the phone was Tracy O’Brien who also worked on the cruise. She confided in her that they asked her to do a threesome but she didn't want to so O’Brien told her to not go back to them and just go to bed. O’Brien told her she’d talk to Traci in the morning as she was usually the peace keeper when the couple was arguing.
While the Bahamas police don’t believe there was any foul play, they claim she may have committed suicide or an accidental death by the freak wave. Rebecca’s parent’s still believe she could have been murdered and claim she never would have killed herself.
In 2015, Chester MP Chris Matheson who had been coordinating the investigation believed there is a possibility of murder. The events are supported by the allegations of rape or sexual assault and Mr. Matheson said he believes there is sufficient evidence to indicate a crime had taken place. He continues to investigate however Disney Cruises still to this day claims she was swept overboard.
The main theory is that it was an accidental death. The captain and Disney claim she just went overboard after a freak wave hit the side of the boat she was on. They say she was most likely washed away into the ocean and drown. Rebecca's parents don’t believe this as there is too much evidence of some kind of foul play.
Another theory that has been floating around is that Rebecca committed suicide. Some people say she was always very kind and bubbly but had an underlying sadness about her. The video that recorded Rebecca's last moments on the ship show her in some sort of distress. Rebecca's family and friends say she would never want to kill herself and that she was happy with her job and her life.
A third theory is that she was murdered by the people who claimed to have had the sexual encounter with her on the boat the night she went missing. Some theories she was uncomfortable with sleeping with Deven and was forced into having a threesome with her girlfriend Tracie, and this new man. After it was done, Rebecca was distraught and left the cabin to wonder the ship. Some say she could have been going to the medical unit and was murdered by someone to keep quiet about the sexual encounter. The man she had been forced to sleep with was in fact already married and this is another reason why some people think he would want her to keep quiet about what happened. Police have in fact ruled out Rebecca's girlfriend and the man as suspects.
The last theory I could find was another big one. A lot of people think she was a victim of human trafficking. On cruse ships, human trafficking is a huge problem and it’s not that far fetched for her to have been captured and taken elsewhere. There have been a few unconfirmed sightings of Rebecca on various island countries but nothing has come of it. Disney and the authorities that investigated her disappearance say this didn't happen. They deny this sort of thing would ever be possible and because of this, many people believe that Disney knows for a fact that human trafficking happens on their cruse ships but they have always covered it up.
Nobody knows for sure what happened to Rebecca on that night and nobody seems to be coming forward with any helpful information. Her parent’s and many others continue to search for her and look for any information possible.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.