Rebecca Coriam was just your average girl from Chester, England who landed a job working on a Disney Cruise line; but on March 21, 2011, everything changed. Rebecca was reported missing and has not been seen since. For almost six years now, the authorities have been chasing dead ends but new evidence has surfaced that may change the course of Rebecca’s disappearance.
Who was Rebecca Coriam?
Anyone who knew Rebecca will tell you that she was warm and bright. Easy to like. Rebecca lived in Chester with her parents, her sister Rachael and two foster brothers. Everyone admired and loved her, it was easy to.
In her youth, she worked at the Chester Zoo, where her grandparents also worked. As a teen, she joined the British Army cadets and studied sports science at Plymouth University at Exeter. She landed a staff volunteer position with the cadets and even participated in some outdoor events. Rebecca also took additional studies in youth studies at Liverpool Hope University and spent four months teaching sports at Camp America in Maine.
Then in June 2010, she headed to London for an interview with the Disney Cruise positions available. She and a handful of hundreds of other job hopefuls. However, to Rebecca’s excitement, she was hired and traveled to Disney’s theme parks in Florida for training.
In Florida, Rebecca spent time training at Walt Disney World. After training was complete, she was then assigned to her first cruise, in the Bahamas. The Bahama gig lasted four months.
Two Month Break
After four months in the Bahamas, she got a two month break where she went back home to visit family and friends.
After her two month break, Rebecca was assigned to work on the Disney Wonder, which is based in the Port of Los Angeles. She visited all the ports on the Mexican Riviera and went through the Panama Canal.
Tragically, during her break, her grandfather died. She returned to Chester for two weeks to be with her family during this time. This would also be the last time her family saw her in person.
Rebecca then returned to work on the Wonder and to her duties as a youth worker. She stayed in contact with her family via Facebook and Skype. However, six weeks later, on 21 March 2011, the ship pulled out of Los Angeles and Rebecca sent what would be her last message to her parents via Facebook, telling them she would call the next day.
Her mother, Ann, grew worried when she replied to her daughter’s message and 12 hours went by without any response. As she and her husband, Mike, were going to bed that night, March 22, the phone rang. However, it wasn’t Rebecca on the other line instead it was an official with Disney, saying that their daughter was missing.
At 9 am Pacific Daylight Time, on board the Disney Wonder, which was off the coast of Mexico set for Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, Rebecca missed the start of her shift. The crew searched but she wasn’t in her room or anywhere else on the ship. Rebecca also did not respond to any of the pages over the ship’s public address system.
Crew members then decided to review the security camera footage and found one appearance of her, time stamped 5:45 am. In the video, Rebecca is seen talking on one of the ship’s internal phones in a crew area. She clearly appears distraught. Then a young man walks up to her and seems to ask if everything is okay. You can clearly see her reply, “Yeah, fine”, after which she hangs up the phone. Rebecca then walks away, pushes her hair back and puts her hands in her back pockets, her parents say that was common for her to do. The sequence of this video is the last known sighting of Rebecca Coriam.
The Disney Wonder is a very large ship. It can accommodate 2,400 passengers, in 875 staterooms, plus it can carry up to 1,000 crew members. There are also 11 public decks across the nearly 1,000 foot ship. This means there are a lot of suspects and a lot of space where Rebecca could have gone.
As soon as the Disney Wonder captain learned that Rebecca was missing, he notified the U.S Coast Guard, the Bahamas Maritime Authority, the Royal Bahamas Police Force, and the FBI. The Mexican Navy was also notified. In this time, Rebecca’s parents were on a plane heading to Los Angeles.
As the Disney Wonder ship is registered in The Bahamas, a detective from the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) flew out to the ship to begin a formal investigation. However, the ship returned to Los Angeles three days after Rebecca’s disappearance so that’s when he started investigating. It was reported that he undertook “several days of onboard investigations”.
Rebecca’s parents, Mike and Annmaria Coriam, were flown out by Disney from England to meet the ship when it returned to LA. They proceeded to meet the Bahamian detective, who apparently told them that he spent just one day on board investigating before he returned home. The detective also told the Coriams that he interviewed only a few crew members, and absolutely none of the passengers.
Mike and Ann further claimed Disney that kept them in a car with blacked-out windows and brought them on board the ship via a little-used side entrance once all the passengers had disembarked. The Wonder’s captain then gave his condolences and explained his theory that he believed Rebecca had been washed overboard by a wave while she was at the crew pool, a theory many doubt as their are high walls around the pool. After this meeting, the Coriams met with Disney executives and also the woman Rebecca had been speaking to on the phone.
After Rebecca’s disappearance, the Coriams were given back Rebecca’s personal belongings. Among Rebecca’s personal things were a pair of flip flops. Disney told her parents that the flip flops were found at the edge of Deck 5, where Disney said she went overboard. However, the flip flops weren’t even Rebecca’s. Oddly enough, on the side of one of the flip flops, there is someone else’s signature with a different cabin number.
Once the story of Rebecca Coriam’s disappearance reached the media, Disney released an official statement. However, the statement was quite brief and offered no further information surrounding her disappearance. Disney Cruise Lines said, “Our hearts go out to the Coriams. We’ve shared everything we can, but many details are still under investigation by the police and it is their role to provide the details of their findings to the family.”
Bank Account Movement
A few weeks after her disappearance, Rebecca’s parents received an email from Rebecca’s bank informing them of activity on her account on the day of April 19. Which is almost a month after she disappeared. Mike then told The Daily Mail, “This could be a very significant development. The fact that her credit card’s been used could only mean someone has stolen it or she’s still alive.”
Then in September, John Jennings, Rebecca’s uncle, said that the password to her Facebook account had apparently been changed by someone close to Rebecca, otherwise how could they have changed it?
In October of 2011, Guardian journalist Jon Ronson, with the Coriams’ blessing, wrote about what he experienced when he boarded the Wonder on the same route and made several discreet inquiries. Numerous crew members, none of whom actually wanted their names used, who were on the ship at the time of Rebecca’s disappearance, spoke to him. Almost all of them suggested that there was more known about her fate than Disney or even the Bahamanian police had publicly admitted.
One of the crew members admitted to journalist Jon Ronson that Disney knew more than they were letting on, “Disney knows exactly what happened, That phone call she had? It was taped. Everything here is taped. There’s CCTV everywhere. Disney have the tape.”
After the journalist Jon Ronson returned, “Melissa”, a woman whom the Coriams had told to contact him, informed him that the day after Rebecca disappeared, flowers were placed on the wall near the pool, apparently by Disney. “It really stirred things up,” the woman recalled. “Why [we]re they putting them there? Nothing was clear.”
One Year On
The day before the first anniversary of Rebecca’s disappearance, her father received an email from a woman claiming that she had spotted Rebecca with a dark-haired man on the streets of Venice the previous August. The woman claimed she was “85% sure” it was Rebecca, and seeing the family’s website they have roused her memory. Rebecca’s family was very upset thinking that their daughter maybe was alive this whole time and they wondered how could she get to Venice when they had her passport. Rebecca’s passport was left in her quarters and given back to her parents.
They Sue Disney
In March of 2014, the Coriams sue Disney claiming that they failed in its duty of care. The family also claimed Disney were negligent as they had waited four hours to notify the U.S. Coastguard, more than five hours to notify the Mexican Navy, and finally almost seven hours to notify the the Bahamian Police. Disney replied saying that their claims had no merit.
The video clip had shown Rebecca on Deck 1, wearing men’s clothes and appearing physically and mentally distraught. Investigators assume she was heading towards the medical center that is located on Deck 1, to possibly report what appears to look like a sexual assault. Investigators says that the video does not show Rebecca taking the elevator or going up the stairs to deck 5.
Among the Evidence
Additionally, among the bag of belongings that were given back to Rebecca’s parents, apart from the flip flops, there was also a torn pair of shorts within. Which seems to further show that apart from the distress she showed on the video, the torn shorts may also show that there was a sexual assault.
Back in April of 2016, The Hollywood Reporter published an article stating that the Coriams had settled with Disney out of court actually, back in 2015. The Coriams did sue Disney in 2014 over negligence in the investigation of their daughter’s disappearance. But it appears that they reached a settlement out of court a year later.
Recently Labour MP Chris Matheson believes that Rebecca Coriam was a crime victim, who was possibly murdered or sexually assaulted. “The more you look into this the more it smells rotten; the more it smells like a crime has taken place”, he told the Echo the year of his election in 2015. He goes on to claim to have a copy of the original police report with “compelling” evidence.
Furthermore, Baron John Prescott, a former Deputy Prime Minster under Tony Blair, has also taken an interest in Rebecca’s disappearance. He believes Rebecca was thrown overboard rather than falling overboard. He has also called for new laws to allow British authorities to investigate their own citizens’ deaths on cruise ships that are in international waters.
Ever since Rebecca’s disappearance six years ago, her family opened a website in order to keep the public up to date on her disappearance. The site offers a summary of her disappearance, personal little tidbits about their daughter and a link to donate to her family’s campaign, The Rebecca Search Foundation Ltd. We hope the family will find answers soon.