Details of Disappearance
Rachel was last seen in Jacksonville, Florida on September 12, 1991. She was supposed to meet her ex-husband, William Gregory "Greg" Thomas, at her house between 5:00 and 5:30 p.m. Rachel and a female friend had plans to speak to each other on the phone at 9:00 p.m., but Rachel never called her, and William apparently never arrived at Rachel's house to see her as planned.
Rachel's roommate came to their residence at 8:00 p.m. Rachel was not there and her car was not in the garage, but the garage door was open and the lights were on. All of Rachel's belongings were still inside the house, and there was dirt in the hallway and scuff marks on the wall. The roommate called Rachel's mother and friends trying to find her before she informed the police that Rachel was missing. When investigators arrived at the house the day after she was last seen, they observed that the garage door was off its track, there were dents and bloodstains on the air conditioning unit and several sneaker prints were on the garage floor.
When questioned, William maintained that he last heard from Rachel at 5:00 p.m. on September 13, when he called her to return a message she had left on his telephone answering machine. She invited him to come over to her home and he and his son and girlfriend went there, but when they arrived at 5:45 p.m. Rachel was gone, so he left some boxes by the front door and left. One of Rachel's coworkers stated William had called Rachel at the work on the day of her disappearance and the two had spoken between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m., but William did not tell this to the police.
Rachel's car, a gray 1987 Honda Civic, was located three days after her disappearance. It appeared to have been washed recently. One of William's palm prints was found on the trunk lid. Some black dirt similar to the dirt from Rachel's home was found in the bed of William's truck, but the dirt was never analyzed. Bloodstains found in Rachel's hallway were determined to be of her blood type, but no further testing was conducted to determine whether the blood was hers.
David Schraud, one of William's friends and coworkers, told police he had helped William abduct Rachel from her home on the day of her disappearance. Schaud stated William had a plan to kidnap Rachel and force her to sign documents related to their property and their son. Schraud and William drove to her home and William knocked, then forced his way inside when Rachel answered the door. Schraud witnessed them struggle with one another, then he helped William bind Rachel's arms, legs, and mouth with duct tape. They put Rachel in the trunk of her own car and agreed to meet at William's house. William drove Rachel's car and Schraud drove William's truck. When Schraud arrived at William's home, William was already there. The following day, William told Schraud that Rachel's house had been thoroughly cleaned. When initially questioned by police shortly after Rachel's disappearance, Schraud denied knowing anything about it. He did not tell the second story until a year later, stating that he had kept the secret because William had threatened his life.
William's new wife told police she had seen William with Rachel's car on the day of her disappearance. She stated William carefully wiped off the inside of the car and the area around the outside door handle. William told his wife that his family, whom he said was involved in organized crime, had kidnapped Rachel, killed her and dumped her body into the ocean. He asked his wife to throw away all of his sneakers.
William was charged in the unrelated death of his adoptive mother in 1993. He pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in that case in 1994. Afterwards, William was charged with Rachel's murder. Prosecutors argued that he killed Rachel to avoid having to pay her child support and alimony. He was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping and burglary, and sentenced to death. William appealed his conviction, but the appeal was denied in 1997. He is still awaiting execution.
Rachel's remains have never been found.