Episode 33 – Rebel McMahon

Nearly 20 years ago, a young boy named Rebel McMahon was murdered by his mother in cold blood. Though this case is undoubtedly tragic, it seems to be resolved. The woman responsible for the killing was arrested and convicted of murder and is currently behind bars. However, when a reporter named Jay Arrington contacted me about this case, something bothered me about it.

Though I live not far from where this crime was committed, and I was only a teenager when the crime occurred and I have researched many strange true crime cases over the years, I had never heard about the murder of Rebel McMahon. This bothered me.

Why had I never heard about this case, especially considering how strange and bizarre it was? Why had this case not received widespread attention, even though it was so tragic?

Jay filled me in on his ideas about why Rebel McMahon’s case seemed to disappear from the media landscape. In his words, the case was lost in a flurry of coverage of other tragic cases that received national media attention. I agree with this theory and, after conducting some research, it seems to hold up.

Still, I was troubled. I know that I’m not making a podcast with national reach and I have no pretensions about being an investigative researcher attempting to solve cold cases and right past wrongs.

As I’ve said many times, I am just a storyteller.

However, I feel that Rebel’s story needs to be told. There is nothing that can be done to bring justice to that young boy but maybe hearing his story will help you and help myself to do something for justice in the future, when other vulnerable people need help.

Yes, this case is tragic and has creepy elements that are the hallmark of many stories I’ve covered here on the Dispatch. However, I’m not just trying to shock or spook anyone with this episode. I’m simply doing what I think needs to be done, and hopefully with a bit of grace and deference.

Listen in and learn about Rebel McMahon. He never got the chance at life that he deserved but he deserves to be remembered and to have his story told. As Jay himself said, it’s just hard to believe that such a crime could ever happen. But these things do happen and, when they do, it behooves us to pay attention, that we may do something about evil when and if we ever come across it.

2 thoughts on “Episode 33 – Rebel McMahon

  1. Thank you for this. I am a dear friend of Cynthia Sandifer, formerly Cynthia Hill. I’m all too familiar with Rebel’s story. I’ve spent many a day at the Hill residence while they had Rebel. In his short life he DID have some people in his life that provided him with a loving home, fun-filled adventures whether it be simple storytelling or trips to Bossier City for Mardi Gras parades. Rebel was loved fiercely by Cynthia, Mark, Erin & Clint. Cynthia & Mark had custody of Rebel off & on throughout his short life. During the last year of his life they were desperately trying to adopt him. They were so close.

    The day that he was killed I was at work. I received a phone call & when I answered I didn’t immediately recognize who the caller was due to hysterical screams & sobbing… my heart beat went into overdrive… I remember saying please calm down I can’t understand you… more sobbing …. then she starting talking again but i still couldn’t really understand her because she was completely out of it… in shock… but what I thought I heard was “He’s gone…. she killed my baby”. And then more screaming & sobbing. Immediately, I knew it was Cynthia. I asked her where she was… I could hear cars steadily passing by in the background. She told me she was on the side of the road on I-20 close to Dixie Inn. I told her to make sure she was not in the road at any point but otherwise, please don’t go anywhere. I told her I was on my way to find her. I hung up & explained to my boss what was going on & left. I drove like a bat out of hell to Dixie Inn. probably 45 miles away. I cried & prayed & called Cynthia & talked to her a few times on my way. Thank God someone saw her on the side of the road & recognized that something was seriously wrong…. and he stayed with her until her husband found her & then I arrived. So many people in positions to help that child FAILED him miserably. He didn’t have to die. But as we know, he did.

    We went to Sunni & Todd’s schools and picked them up. I’d never met them before. I didn’t know what to say to them. So I just hugged them and introduced myself & told them even though we had just met that I loved them. If they needed anything at all to let me know.

    Cynthia, Mark & myself went back to their house to get belongings for Sunni & Todd. I didn’t know what to expect. I was speechless… the house was oddly built. I helped gather the different items both kids specifically asked for and other things Cynthia told me she wanted of Rebel’s. Nothing had been touched since the day of Rebel’s death. One of the items Sunni asked for was the TV. The TV that was in the room where Rebel was shot. The TV he was watching when he was shot. It had brain matter all over it. I did my best to get it off… and when I was done Mark helped me carry it to the truck. Mark had come into the room while I was cleaning the TV and saw what I was doing and told me to stop. He said Tanya, you don’t need to clean that shit… and I said Mark these kids have been through hell… and they didn’t ask for much… I’m bringing this to Sunni. He told me I was a stubborn ass and said at least let me help you carry it to the truck… and then he intentionally dropped it.

    Anyway, that’s just a few bits of his story. Have you spoken with Cynthia?

    I’m about to listen to your podcast again.

    thanks so much for doing this for Rebel.

    Tanya McGaha

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. The story you shared is horrifying and heartbreaking and I honored you chose to share it here.

      I don’t know exactly what to say except that I hope you have found some small peace with this horrible event over the years.

      Thank you for listening and I hope you have a good day.

      P.S. No, I have not spoken with Cynthia but I have spoken with some people closely involved in the case who reached out to me but asked to remain anonymous.

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