The Babysitter Wanted to Be the Girl She Babysat, so She Planned on Getting a Nose Job, Then She Put a Cord Around Her Neck

The tragic case of Rachel Barber

Rachel Elizabeth Barber — image from Findagrave

Caroline was often very brutal and harsh with herself.

She believed life inflicted severe pain and suffering on her all the time.

“Life is torture in its purest form.” She wrote. Worse still, Caroline slandered herself with the meanest words imaginable.

“Big nose, obese, pimples, fat chubby cheeks, small mouth, pizza face, eat too much, not fit, not healthy, ugly, disgusting, no life, unphotogenic, weird, sick, worthless, boring, mad, pathetic, etc.” — Caroline

The Barber Family Lived in Australia

In 1998, the Barber family lived in Melbourne, Australia.

Michael and Elizabeth Barber had been happily married for 20 years. The couple had three beautiful daughters, Rachel, Ashleigh-Rose, and Heather.

The family’s life wasn’t perfect.

They struggled financially and lived paycheck to paycheck. However, Michael and Elizabeth used their creativity to make ends meet.

Michael was a toy maker and designer. Elizabeth worked in children’s literature. On the other hand, each of the three Barber children cultivated their unique creative gifts.

Heather, the youngest, had developed a beautiful singing voice. Ashleigh-Rose had learned to play the flute. And fifteen-year-old Rachel, the eldest daughter, was a very talented dancer.

Rachel was also very beautiful. But Rachel had her own struggles and fears. She struggled academically. She was afraid of the dark, afraid to talk to strangers, and afraid of navigating the public transportation system alone.

So Rachel was dependent on her parents as a result.

Rachel Dropped Out Of School

Rachel Elizabeth Barber — image from

Rachel’s parents allowed her to drop out of traditional school.

They transferred her to a dance school so to nurture her talents. And Michael and Elizabeth watched as Rachel blossomed. She made new friends. Also, she met a boy, Emmanuel Carella, aka Manni.

On March 1st, 1999, Rachel and her father did their usual morning routine. The two left the house, got into Michael’s car, and drove to the train station.

Rachel hopped out of the car and took a train to her dance school.

Michael watched his daughter long enough until she disappeared from view. Then he drove away. Michael returned to the station later that day to pick up Rachel at their usual meetup time. But Rachel wasn’t on board when the train arrived at the station.

Michael assumed that something made Rachel late and she had missed the first train. So he sat in the parking lot and waited for the next train. But Rachel wasn’t on that train either.

It was starting to get dark.

Michael started getting worried because he knew Rachel was afraid of the dark, especially being alone. So Michael stalked train after train at the station. But Rachel wasn’t in any of them.

Michael couldn’t simply call Rachel because he didn’t have a cellphone, and neither did Rachel.

He made his way to his parent’s house, which was closer to the station. Then Michael called his house to ask if Rachel had gotten home by herself. But his wife told him no.

Michael and Elizabeth knew something was wrong.

Elizabeth Contacted Rachel’s Boyfriend

Elizabeth called Emmanuel, who told her he last saw and talked to Rachel earlier that day.

Emmanuel went to the mall with Rachel near the dance school. The two got into a shoe store, and Rachel walked up to a particular pair of big blue platform shoes. Rachel said she was going to buy them the next day.

Elizabeth immediately knew the shoes that Emmanuel was talking about.

Rachel had taken Elizabeth to the same store the day before, and she begged her to buy the same shoes. But the shoes were a hundred Australian dollars. So Elizabeth told Rachel she couldn’t afford them.

Now, Elizabeth wondered where Rachel hoped to get money to afford the shoes all of a sudden. Then, Emmanuel told Elizabeth that Rachel had told him she planned on taking up an undercover job. Rachel emphasized that the job was nothing immoral or illegal.

Michael soon drove to the police and filed a missing person report. But the police believed Rachel had run away from home. Then Michael and Elizabeth learned from Emmanuel that Rachel mentioned that the secret job involved an old friend of hers.

Michael and Elizabeth didn’t have any idea who the old friend was. But they were relieved a little, thinking their daughter wasn’t alone wherever she was. Michael and Elizabeth called Rachel’s friends, but no one knew anything.

A week later, Michael and Elizabeth got a new clue.

Rachel Was Spotted by an Old Acquaintance

An old acquaintance of Rachel told the couple that she had seen Rachel on the day of her disappearance.

The acquaintance was already on the train when Rachel walked in with another girl she didn’t recognize.

Rachel and the girl sat next to each other at the other end of the train, away from her. It was clear to the acquaintance that Rachel and the girl were friends.

The two were laughing and joking together and in their own world.

The train reached Prahran station. The acquaintance got up to leave the train. Then she realized that Rachel and the other girl had also stood up and were walking out the door.

Rachel looked up and saw the acquaintance. The two smiled and waved at each other. Then they parted ways.

Michael and Elizabeth got a little reassurance that Rachel was with her friend. But they wondered where Rachel and the mysterious friend had gone. By that time, the police were seriously looking into Rachel’s case. So they now had a mystery girl to identify. They called in an artist to create a sketch of the mystery girl.

The police also looked into the phone calls made to the Barber home the day before Rachel disappeared. One phone number stood out to them. It was a private number that had called the Barber home twice.

The police tracked the number. And they found out that the private caller was a twenty-year-old woman named Caroline Robertson.

Caroline looked a lot like the police sketch of the mystery girl that Allison saw on the train. In addition, Caroline lived very close to Prahran train station.

Caroline Was Once Rachel’s Babysitter

Caroline was also Rachel’s old nanny. And she was very close to the Barber family.

So Caroline was definitely the mystery girl and the old friend that Rachel was going to do the secret job with.

It was very likely that Rachel and Caroline had snuck out together and were hiding in Caroline’s apartment. So the police headed out to Caroline’s apartment. They knocked on the door, but they got no response.

The authorities had to climb up to an open bedroom window to investigate what was happening inside. Then they noticed a body lying face down on the floor at the foot of the bed. It was Caroline, and she was unconscious.

The police rushed her to the hospital while the other officers searched her apartment. There was no sign of Rachel anywhere.

Caroline soon regained consciousness, and the police questioned her. She pieced together one of the most shocking stories the police had ever heard.

What Happened To Rachel

Caroline called Rachel and offered her a job.

She told Rachel she was working on a psychology study and needed participants. However, the study was confidential. So Rachel wasn’t supposed to tell anyone.

Caroline would pay Rachel a hundred Australian dollars afterward. And you know Rachel really wanted the money to buy the blue shoes. So she agreed. Caroline and Rachel made their way to Caroline’s apartment. They bought a pizza and some beer along the way.

The two headed upstairs to Caroline’s bedroom.

They both sat on the floor and started eating their pizza alongside the beer. Caroline then told Rachel it was time for the study.

Caroline started with a guided meditation sitting next to Rachel. She told Rachel to be calm, to think happy thoughts, to close her eyes, and to start breathing in and out slowly. Rachel complied.

Caroline stood up and began pacing up and down the room. She waited until she was sure the drugs she had put in Rachel’s part of the pizza were working.

Then she took a phone cord, wrapped it around Rachel’s neck, and pulled as hard as he could. Rachel snapped out of the meditation, reached up, and tried to pull the cable from her neck. But she was overpowered.

Caroline held tight to the rope until Rachel was dead.

Caroline dragged Rachel’s body into her closet. She kept her there for two days. Then she dragged Rachel’s body out, rolled her up in a rug, and stuffed her inside a big bag.

Caroline called a cab to her apartment. She dragged the bag with Rachel’s body inside and headed to her father’s rural vacation home. She went on to bury Rachel in a shallow grave at that home.

The Aftermath

The reason why the police found Caroline unconscious was because she got so stressed when she saw the police. Then she had a seizure and passed out.

The police soon found journals Caroline had left all over her apartment.

It was clear from the journals that Caroline hated herself, she hated her physical image, and she was obsessed with the girl whom she once babysat, Rachel Barber. So Rachel was the beautiful and perfect person that Caroline wanted to be.

Caroline decided that she was going to stop being Caroline and become Rachel. But she had to kill Rachel to assume her identity.

Caroline planned on losing weight and getting a nose job to look more like Rachel. Then she would complete her transformation by legally changing her name to Rachel Barber.

Rachel’s body was recovered and buried in the presence of her family and friends. The blue shoes that Rachel wanted so badly were also buried with her.

The Sentence

Caroline was diagnosed with a personality disorder after the murder.

Caroline pleaded guilty in 2000.

She was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Caroline was released from prison in 2015 after serving only fifteen years of her sentence. Also, Caroline had transformed herself in prison to look more like her victim.

CAROLINE before changing (Right), CAROLINE as pictured in 2013 (Left) — image from

When Elizabeth saw Caroline after she came out of prison, she realized that she resembled someone else, her daughter.

“There is a Rachel likeness there, the eyes.”, Elizabeth stated.

Rachel’s mother wrote a book about Rachel’s experience called The Perfect Victim. The book was later adapted into a major film, In Her Skin, starring some of Australia’s biggest actors and actresses.

Sources:,, MrBallen