SPOKANE, Wash. - Nicki Wood and Rebecca West disappeared from their West Central neighborhood during a walk to a nearby mini-mart nearly 25 years ago and now the man convicted of killing those girls is on the brink of being released from prison.
Michael Tarbert, 51, was allowed to plead guilty to a pair of manslaughter charges due to a lack of evidence and, thanks to time off for good behavior, he has served out his sentence.
Wood and West, who were 11 and 12 years old when they were killed, should have been safe making a candy run to their neighborhood mini-mart but instead, somewhere along their short route, the girls ran into Tarbert who coaxed them into his car.
Naomi Snyder was supposed to be on that fateful walk with them.
"I went back to my mom's and I said, 'Mom can I please go with Rebecca West and Nicki Wood and she said no absolutely not, you're not going anywhere,'" she said.
Her mother's intuition spared Naomi's life. Nicki Wood was strangled while Rebecca West's body was never found.
"I'm angry and bitter that he's getting out," Snyder said. "He should have served life. And to not know even today, for the West family to not know where their baby girl is, where's she's at, it's just haunting them," Snyder said.
Tarbert is most likely to be released back to Spokane where he will be carefully monitored by the Department of Corrections. Because Tarbert allegedly told fellow inmates he killed the girls under the influence, he'll face drug testing, but Snyder worries no amount of community supervision will keep the community safe.
"The nature of the crimes and my best friends, yes I believe in my heart and my soul I believe he's going to re-offend and it's gonna be a shame," Snyder said.
Even though Tarbert's earned release was Tuesday he has not started working on his offender release plan, something that takes into account where he would live, how he'd make a living and how his daily activities could be monitored.
That process could take several months, but now, much sooner than later, Tarbert could be roaming the same streets where he claimed his young victims 25 years ago.
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