[IN-DEPTH] Perfect and Beautiful, I Must Become Her: The Murder of Rachel Barber

UPDATE: Caroline Reed Robertson, who murdered and buried 15-year-old dancer Rachel Barber in March 1999, served 14 years of her 20-year sentence. She was released on the 20th of January, 2015. The parents of Rachel Barber have requested that Robertson is not harrassed and that the public respect her rehabilitation and probation terms.


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The slaughtering of Rachel Barber in 1999 was one that followed an unfortunate targeting of a young girl. Police called it one of the most bizarre homicide cases they’d ever worked on. It was a story of jealousy and the lust for a teenage girl by another teenage girl who wanted the life of someone who wasn’t “ugly” or “strange” – It’s a murder that was turned into the film “In Her Skin” (which in some parts of the world was released as “I Am You”) which featured the likes of Guy Pearce and Sam Neill.

The bestselling book “Perfect Victim” was written by Rachel’s mother Elizabeth.

Rachel Barber’s murderer Caroline Reed Robertson was apparently filled with jealousy and a lack of motivation and self-esteem. imageRobertson wrote pages of stressed letters to her father, David Reid. “I get teased badly at school. I get really really embarrassed. I told mum, but she hasn’t helped. I really really really need HELP.”

Another letter read: “I feel like a troubled, tortured lost soul that’s been thrown into an alien environment full of angels”

None of these letters were seen as proof to the Victorian Supreme Court to indicate that Robertson, aged 22, was capable of murdering a family friend who was significantly younger.

Robertson was sentenced to 20 years’ jail for strangling 15-year-old Rachel Barber with a telephone cord on March 11th, 1999.

She is eligible for parole this year (2013).

The Reed family lived across the road from the Barber family with their three daughters Rachel, Ashleigh-Rose and Heather. Caroline Robertson was five years older than Rachel and had baby-sat many of the Barber girls. What Robertson saw seemed, to her, like the perfect home with the perfect loving family surrounding it.

The Barber family battled financially, but they had moved from the country so that Rachel could pursue her dream to become a dancer. They allowed her to leave school at 15 because of her dedication to the talent. Her family describes her as elegant and charismatic, showy and innocent.

Robertson wrote of Rachel:

“Strikingly attractive, dancer’s body, very clear pale skin, hypnotic green eyes, wild free spirit, passionate, charming, moody, mysterious.”


Robertson had wanted to be Rachel’s “bestest friend” at age 17 – whilst Rachel was only 12. The tell-tale signs of an early obsession were evident but obviously irrelevant.

According to Rachel’s mum Elizabeth Barber: “Robertson was in an unhappy family which she (Robertson) wanted to destroy”

At 20, Robertson was an administrative assistant with a telecommunications company with no drug or money problems or any form of criminal history. She was as clean as could be. Viewing her diary and paperwork; the startling revelation of her deep desire to be someone else was all too clear. According to the courts interpretations and Robertson’s drawings: She had earnestly conspired to kill Rachel and assume a new identity – using Elizabeth Barber’s maiden name, Southall, and an unrelated first name.

Robertson had written down her strategy to lure Rachel with an offer of money to take part in a fake psychology study, then drug her, disfigure her and dispose of her body. For two days Robertson kept Rachel’s body in a cupboard in her apartment before hiring a van and dumping the body in a shallow grave on her father’s property near Kilmore, Victoria.


About Author



As founder and editor-in-chief, Cask J. Thomson has exhausted his life as a graphics designer, political activist, freedom of speech advocate, anti-censorship promoter and a published author of several computer science books and a graphic novel. As well as running the publishing company linked to WordMean, Cask has several aspirations as a musician, producer and journalist. Thomson was born in the United Kingdom and currently resides between Sydney, Australia and Alicante, Spain.


  • Liz727

    What a sad end to a promising young life and a lesson to us all. Jealousy is one of the seven deadly sins for good reason. So much abuse and so many suicides among the young on social media sites because of it. Sorry to the family to lose their child in this dreadful way.

  • Decio Rocha

    I hope the Justice of Australia review this case and punish with death penalty or perpetuates crimes like this, and if this Robertson never be set at liberty by offering real danger to all people.
    Decio Rocha, lawyer, Brazil.

  • gwen

    You realize this is almost a word-for-word reprint, under a different author, of a November 2000 article. Found here: http://www.fact.on.ca/news/news0011/th001130.htm

    • DaveyDave

      It’s similar, but it’s not a rip off but I get what you mean

    • BrazillianFeva!

      there’s not much further a story like this could go but that was 13 years ago. follows same format but not exactly plagiarism

  • Barbara

    I hope the Policemen who were initially involved changed their way of thinking. I have never seen a police department try so hard to not be involved with a missing child. This is such a sad story. And it makes me wonder why Caroling was not institutionalized. Clearly she needed more help than what she was getting. Does anyone know when Caroling is to be released? I know it is this year, but what month?

    • Chillin

      Supposedly September

    • Rachel

      August of 2013

      • Derek

        November now

  • BullShooter

    Wow. That just goes to show what good parenting could prevent; had her father reached out a hand to help his daughter like he should have, then Caroline may have been able to be persuaded away from murdering Rachel.

  • Diane LIndsey

    It is so strange how people can have a child with that many problems and not realize they are a ticking time bomb. So much denial .. that is so sad. really sad.. Robertson clearly does not need to be freed into society. not a chance.OMG

  • guest

    killer, Caroline Reed Robertson, received a total effective prison
    sentence of 20 years and could have been released August 10, 2013, only
    14 1/2 years after her conviction. The Victorian Adult Parole Board
    released a statement stating they would not release Caroline on August
    10 but rather review her case at the end of this year, and in the
    meantime work on her ongoing management plan. Rachel’s family want her
    to serve at least 18 years of her total sentence of 20 years so she can
    still be legally monitored on her release. If she were to serve her
    total prison sentence in prison she can not be legally monitored, and it
    is absolutely essential for the benefit and safety of the community
    that she is monitored on her release.

    We are asking the Adult
    Parole Board to be very careful on deciding when it is safe to release
    Caroline back into the community because her​​ sentencing judge,
    Justice Vincent, said he was concerned she may not be able to be
    rehabilitated and was concerned she may reoffend if she became fixated
    on anyone else.

  • Welldonenewscorp

    news.com.au has dug up your story once again haha. I’ve seen a few times where you guys have done an article and then they’ve essentially re-written it LOL


  • Shelly

    No one could see that this older grown adult had a single white female obsession with this young girl? This is crazy! My God, she asked Rachel to be her bff knowing she was only 12yrs old @da time and she was 17. That alone would have made me distance her from my child. Caroline clearly was unstable! For her own Mother not to notice her problems is crazy to me. I always say this “Just because your able to conceive & birth a child does not mean you should be a parent”.

  • A friend of carolines

    I shared my accomidation at DPFC with caroline and in the whole time of living with her I found her to be an absoutely beautiful person. I think she is fully rehabilitated and is more suitable and worthy of parole than most of the other girls who are given it

    • http://www.wordswithmeaning.org/ WordMean Team Member

      Thanks for sharing with us :)

    • jo

      thankyou for saying what you did I knew caroline in 1999/2000 at dpfc and I am glad she will have a chance at parole