When Tamara Bradley left work at 3:30 pm on Friday, September 30, 1994, she was prepared for a weekend of house-hunting. The company she worked for, Federal Foam Technologies, was going to be relocating from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Wisconsin. Tamara planned to sell the Blaine, Minnesota home she shared with her 5-year-old son and move across the Wisconsin border. She had dropped her son off with her ex-husband that morning, and she had several homes she wanted to look at before she was due to pick him up on Sunday evening.
As Tamara left work, she told her co-workers that she would see them on Monday morning and let them know if she had seen any houses she liked. The 30-year-old got into her car, tossed her paycheck on the dashboard, and pulled out of the parking lot. A co-worker saw Tamara leaving and noted that she headed north on Washington Street; this was the way Tamara would normally go to get to her home in Blaine.
No one from Tamara’s family spoke to her that weekend, but they weren’t too concerned. They knew that she had planned to look at some houses and assumed she was simply busy. Her ex-husband was the first to sound the alarm; he knew something had to be wrong when she didn’t show up on Sunday evening to pick up her son. When he was unable to reach Tamara, he called her sister, Wendy, to see if she had heard from her.
Once it became clear that no one had been in contact with Tamara since Friday afternoon, her family started to grow worried. They drove to her home, but it was dark and empty. Tamara’s car was not in the driveway, and her mail from both Friday and Saturday was still in her mailbox. It appeared that she hadn’t been back to her home since leaving it Friday morning.
Although her family was concerned about her whereabouts, Tamara was an adult and they didn’t want to overreact. Although it was completely out of character for her to go anywhere without checking in with someone, they knew she had planned to look at houses across the state line. It was possible she had ended up staying overnight in Wisconsin for some reason; they decided to wait and see if she showed up for work the following morning.
Monday morning came, and Tamara’s family waited anxiously to see if she arrived at Federal Foam Technologies; she was known as a reliable employee and was always punctual. On that day, however, her desk was empty and she didn’t call the office to explain her absence. When the work day ended without any word from Tamara, her family could no longer deny that something was terribly wrong. They called the Blaine Police Department and reported her missing.
Initially, police didn’t appear to be too concerned; they assumed that Tamara had simply needed a break and decided to get away for a while. It didn’t take long before they realized that this likely wasn’t the case. Early on Monday morning, Tamara’s car had been found in a no-parking zone in downtown Minneapolis. Since she hadn’t yet been reported missing at the time the car was found, authorities had no way of knowing the significance of their find and the car was towed to the city’s impound lot.
Once they realized the connection, investigators examined the car to see if it contained any clues about where Tamara might be. The car had been left on Hawthorne Avenue, near a Greyhound bus station, with the keys still in the ignition. Nothing appeared to be missing from the car; two of Tamara’s paychecks and an uncashed child support check were sitting untouched on the dashboard. There were no signs that any kind of struggle had taken place in or around the car, but the driver’s seat had been pushed all the way back. Tamara, who was only 5 feet 4 inches tall, would never have been able to drive the car with the seat in that position.
Although they found nothing in the car to indicate that foul play had taken place, investigators didn’t believe that Tamara had voluntarily disappeared. She was extremely close with her family, had a good relationship with her ex-husband, and was completely devoted to her young son. As far as anyone knew, she had not been dating anyone at the time and had been looking forward to buying a new home. She left two uncashed paychecks as well as a child support check behind, and her bank account had not been touched.
Detectives interviewed dozens of people who knew Tamara, but none of them were able to offer any insight into her disappearance. Co-workers reported that she had been her usual cheerful self when she left work on Friday; she had seemed excited about the prospect of looking at houses and had given no indication that anything had been bothering her.
Tamara was one of six children, and had been close with her siblings. She also had a group of close friends who would gather often for a drink or to play darts; they were certain that she would have confided in them if she had been having any kind of personal troubles. All of them were adamant that, even if she had wanted to get away for a while, she would never have left her son behind. If she had planned to go anywhere, she would have taken him with her.
Investigators reached out to the public for help in locating Tamara, but they were unsuccessful in developing any leads. With no tips coming in and no potential sightings of Tamara, the case quickly went cold. By February 1995, it had been shelved with the rest of the department’s inactive files. It remained untouched for more than a decade.
In July 2009, Minneapolis police got a tip that Tamara might be a possible match for an unidentified body that had been found in Wyandotte County, Kansas in October 1999. Although some of Tamara’s physical traits did match the Kansas Jane Doe, it was eventually determined that the unidentified body was not Tamara.
There have been no new leads in Tamara’s case since 2009, and her family has resigned themselves to the fact that she is no longer alive. Tamara’s sister, Wendy, was granted custody of Tamara’s son after she disappeared. Although the family has tried to keep Tamara’s memory alive, her son was so young when she vanished that he has virtually no memories of his mother. The family has conducted numerous physical searches for Tamara over the years, and they hope that one day they will learn what happened to her and obtain some measure of closure.
Tamara Bradley was 30 years old when she went missing in 1994. She has hazel eyes and brown hair, and at the time of her disappearance she was 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 135 pounds. She was last seen wearing blue jeans, a dark-colored t-shirt, a dark-colored ski jacket, and sneakers. She has a mole on the left side of her upper lip and surgical scars on both knees and her jaw. She also wore a partial dental plate. If you have any information about Tamara, please contact the Blaine Police Department at 763–427–1212.