Tara Calico was last seen September 20, 1988 in New Mexico. Later, a Polaroid picture was found in a parking lot in Florida.Tara Calico was last seen on September 20, 1988, in New Mexico. Later, a Polaroid picture was found in a parking lot in Florida of a young girl who looks like Tara, bound and gagged. Source: Kym Pasqualini.
It was September 20, 1988, a beautiful sunny day in Belen, New Mexico. Tara Calico, 19, decided to go out for her daily bike ride at approximately 9:30 a.m. that morning.
Normally, the beautiful teen would ride with her mother, but there had been an incident where her mother had felt they were followed by a motorist and she no longer felt comfortable going along. She encouraged Tara to carry mace, but Tara had told her mother no.
The ride typically took two hours. Joking, Tara asked her mother Patty Doel, to come and get her around noon if she got a flat tire and had not returned. Tara had plans to play tennis with her boyfriend at 12:30 p.m., giving her plenty of time to finish the ride.
Tara took her mother’s neon pink Huffy mountain bike and left their house to ride her regular route on New Mexico State Road 47.
The only thing Tara took was her Sony Walkman, her headphones, and a cassette tape of the band Boston.
When Tara did not return, Patty went out to look for her, driving Tara’s usual route. When she returned home, and Tara was not there, Patty called the Valencia County Sheriff’s Department and made a missing person report.
Later that day, officers found pieces of Tara’s Walkman, along with the cassette tape, scattered along the side of the road. Tara and her bike were missing.Tara Calico was outgoing and worked as a bank teller. Source Patty Doel.
An extrovert, an avid reader, and physically active, Tara worked as a bank teller and was studying to become either a psychologist or psychiatrist. She was highly motivated and would never leave without telling her mother.
Witnesses Come Forward
People who saw what happened said they saw an older model white or light-colored pickup truck with a camper shell near New Mexico 47. They said they saw it following Tara on her way back from her trip.
Witnesses even said the passenger was the son of a powerful local police officer and was 18 years old.
In an article from 2008, Valencia Sheriff Rene Rivera said that several witnesses had told him that the two young men in the truck had been following Tara and trying to talk to her while grabbing her. The truck then hit her bike, knocking her to the ground.
Rivera said, “From there, the people took her.”
A lot of other things have been said too.
In November 2013, a police report was made public about a witness’s dying confession in which he said that three men, including the officer’s son, were involved in Tara’s disappearance. The young men are said to have thrown the bike into the Belen junkyard and Tara’s body into a pond.
There were also claims that Tara had been raped, kil*led with a knife, buried, and covered with concrete slabs. Tara was put in a freezer in a different story. All of these things are terrible for Tara’s parents to hear.
Police have looked in places around Belen and in Valencia County where graves might be, but they have found nothing.
A report in the Albuquerque Journal says that the officer’s 21-year-old son died in 1991, either by suicide or after a bad game of Russian Roulette. But the boy’s father told the Journal that he thought his son had been k*illed.
Polaroid Picture Found
A Polaroid picture of an unknown young woman and a child was found in the parking lot of a Port St. Joe, Florida, convenience store on June 15, 1989. Both of the people in the picture had duct tape around their mouths and arms tied behind their backs.
There were no problems with the color picture. Both victims were facing the camera and looked like they were in the back of a van, clearly in pain.
When police asked Polaroid about the picture, they said it had to have been taken after May 1989 because the film wasn’t available before then.
Patty, Tara’s mother, thinks this picture is of her daughter Tara Calico, who has been missing from New Mexico since September 1988.
Patty Calico, Tara’s mother, thinks this picture is of her daughter Tara Calico, who has been missing from Belen, New Mexico, since September 1988. The National Center for Missing Adults is the source.
That person who found the picture said it was a white Toyota cargo van without windows that had been parked there before she got to the store. Investigators said the woman remembered the driver as a man in his 30s with a mustache.
In 1989, only 10,000 people lived in Port St. John, making it a smaller town. Police blocked off the road, but the man has never been found.
Polaroid picture next to a picture of Tara Calico, who hasn’t been seen since September 1988.
Polaroid picture next to a picture of Tara Calico, who hasn’t been seen since September 1988. The National Center for Missing Adults is the source.
The picture was in the national news in 1989 and was shown on the show “A Current Affair.” Friends who had seen the show called Patty afterward to say they thought the girl in the picture looked like Tara.
A Polaroid picture of an unknown boy and Michael Henley, who has been missing from New Mexico since April 1988.
Polaroid picture of Michael Henley and an unknown boy. Michael Henley has been missing from New Mexico since April 1988. The National Center for Missing Adults is the source.
Family members of 9-year-old Michael Henley also saw the show and thought the boy in the picture looked like Michael. The little boy from New Mexico had not been seen or heard from since April 1988.
Tara and Michael’s parents met with police. When Patty left the police station, she was sure that the girl in the picture was her daughter. She saw that the unidentified woman’s leg scar looked exactly like Tara’s scar from a car accident. There was also a paperback copy of “My Sweet Audrina” by V.C. Andrews next to the woman. Andrews is Tara’s favorite author.
A first look at the picture by Scotland Yard showed that the woman was Tara, but a second look by the Los Alamos National Laboratory showed that they were wrong. The FBI couldn’t come to a conclusion about what the picture showed.
Michael Henley Found
Michael Henley was last seen with his father turkey hunting in 1988, about 75 miles away from where Tara was taken. His parents were sure the Polaroid picture was of their son, but that is now thought to be very unlikely. In June 1990, his body was found in the Zuni Mountains, about 7 miles from where he went missing.
Other Photographs Surface
Over the years, other pictures of Tara have shown up, and her family has had to try to figure out who each one is, like they were in a bad dream.
Since Tara went missing, two more Polaroid pictures have been found.
Since Tara went missing, two more Polaroid pictures have been found. The National Center for Missing Adults is the source.
The first picture was found near a construction site in Montecito, California. It was a blurry picture of a girl’s face with tape over her mouth and light blue striped fabric behind her, which looked a lot like the pillow in the first picture of the Toyota van. It was shot on Polaroid film, which wasn’t around until June 1989.
The second picture shows a woman on an Amtrak train with an unidentified man. The woman is bound in gauze and has more gauze over her eyes. She wears big black frames on her glasses. The movie wasn’t out until February 1990.
Tara’s mom thought the one with the striped shirt was her daughter and the other one might have been a bad joke. Michelle said that Tara’s sister.
It was very clear that they looked alike. I won’t rule them out either. But remember that our family has had to figure out who was in a lot of other pictures as well, and all of them were wrong.
The Port St. Joe Police Chief got a picture of a young boy who hasn’t been named but has a gag drawn across his mouth.
The Port St. Joe Police Chief got a picture of a young boy who hasn’t been named but has a gag drawn across his mouth. The National Center for Missing Adults is the source.
David Barnes, the police chief of Port St. Joe, received two envelopes from Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 2009. The dates on the envelopes were June 9 and August 9, 2009. One letter had a picture of a young boy printed on copy paper. Someone had put a black band over the boy’s mouth with black ink, which looked like the gag in the 1989 picture. The first picture of the boy without the gag was in the second letter. The Star newspaper in Port St. Joe got a third letter from Albuquerque on August 12. It had the same picture of the boy with a black marker gag over his mouth. The letters didn’t have a return address or a note that would have helped find the child.
Port St. Joe police think the picture of the boy has something to do with Tara’s disappearance, but they don’t know what.
Tara’s Family Vows to Find Her
Pat and John Doel, Tara’s mother and father, have died since then. Patty had several strokes before she died. In the Florida retirement home where she lived with Tara’s dad, she would stare out of a window. Every day, she would wait for her daughter to come by on her bike.
Patty would look out her window and wonder if the women riding by were her daughter, even though they lived 2,000 miles away from where Tara had gone missing.
John Doel told the Albuquerque Journal in 2006, after Patty had died, “I’d have to try to explain to her that it wasn’t Tara, that it was someone too old or too young.” “Patty looked for Tara all the way through.”
It looked like the search for Tara was over after Patty died. Patty and John were the ones who kept looking for Tara. They even got their own police badges so they could do their own searches and send out thousands of flyers all over the country. Patty worked for the National Center for Missing Adults and went on a number of national TV shows to bring attention to the disappearance of her daughter.
The Albuquerque Journal reports that in 2013, a task force of six local and federal police officers was formed to look into the case of the University of New Mexico sophomore again. After a year, the task force was broken up.
It was always important to Patty Calico to find her daughter Tara, who went missing on September 20, 1988, in Belen, New Mexico.
It was always important to Patty Calico to find her daughter Tara, who went missing on September 20, 1988, in Belen, New Mexico. Patty Doel is the source.
That’s when Tara’s younger sister Michele Doel picked up where her mother left off.
They joined forces with Melinda Esquibel, who knew Tara from when she was in the Belen High School marching band, and set out on a new journey to find her.
Melinda told Rosalie Rayburn of the Albuquerque Journal, “My mom sent me an article from the Valencia County News-Bulletin in 2008 about how Tara had been missing for 20 years, and I just stopped crying.” “What happened shocked everyone in the community and made us question how safe our community really is.” We had no idea what had happened to her.
Melinda worked in the entertainment business in Los Angeles and was interested in the case.
Keeping Tara’s Memory Alive
On Christmas 2008, Melinda went back to Belen to have dinner with old friends. It was there that she talked about Tara going missing.
She was startled by the answer.
Someone told Melinda, “Oh, Melinda, everyone in town knows who did it.” She told the Albuquerque Journal this.
The boys who were driving the truck and the son of the famous police officer were what her friends were talking about.
Soon after, Melinda knew she had to do something to find Tara.
A podcast called “Vanished: The Tara Calico Investigation” has been downloaded over a million times, and Melinda started making a documentary about Tara’s disappearance.
There is also a website and a Facebook page for Vanished: The Tara Calico Story that Melinda and Michele created. These pages have almost 7,000 followers.
Melinda and Michele are honest. Since so many years have passed, both women know that the case probably won’t be looked into any further without a body. However, they both set out to finish what Patty Doel had begun: to bring Tara back home to be buried properly and to give her the justice she so deserved.
The FBI said in 2019 that they would pay $20,000 for specific information about where Tara is.
Please call the FBI office in Albuquerque at 505–889–1300 if you know anything about Tara Calico’s whereabouts.