The Unsolved Disappearance Of Tara Calico (1988) - Shreya Sachdev
DISCLAIMER: No disrespect is intended towards anyone that I talk about on this blog post. This blog post is for educational purposes and is being posted on this website in order to raise awareness about this case and to truly hope that the grieving families and friends of these victims find closure and finally find out what happened to their loved one(s). I have gathered all this information on the internet, but unfortunately I do not know how accurate or inaccurate it is. If I have made a mistake somewhere, then I apologize. It is not my intention to spread false information.
Tara Calico was born on the 28th of February in 1969 in Belen, New Mexico and was just 19 years old at the time of her disappearance. She was a gorgeous girl who had long, silky brown hair and her two defining features were that she had two scars, one on the back of her shoulder and one at the back of her leg. Tara was a very gifted student and was said to be very talented. She was enrolled at the University of New Mexico at the time of her disappearance.
In January of 1975, Tara’s parents divorced, and that same year Tara’s mother (Patty Calico) remarried. Patty married to a man named John Doel, and John was said to deeply love Tara and treat her as if she was his real daughter. They had a very close relationship and Tara saw John as her real father since Tara was only six years old when John and Patty got married.
Tara was also said to be a very athletic girl. She would take a long bike ride every single morning. She would bike down the end half of the New Mexico road 47. It was a straightforward route down the railroad track. The bike ride would be around 34 miles long and during both ways she would encounter isolated areas and patches of desert on her journey as well. Patty attempted to do the same bike ride one day as she had seen her daughter do it so often, but when Patty came back from the bike ride she said that she would never do it again because she was terrified of the route. She wanted Tara to stop biking on this route as well as she didn’t believe it was safe. However, Tara said that she felt safe biking on this route and ignored her mother.
On September 20th in 1988, Tara woke up before 9:00am and got ready for her bike ride. She laid out her tennis clothes and her school books since she had a tennis match later that day as well as class. With everything laid out, she went outside and took off on her mother’s pink bike because her bike had a flat tire. Before she left, she told her mother that if she didn’t return by noon then she probably lost track of time and wanted her mother to come and pick her up so that Tara could be on time for her tennis match.
Tara rode the first 17 miles down to the railroad tracks as she usually did and encountered nothing strange. She then turned to head back home. At around 11:30, two men walking on a ranch that was on her route saw her biking home. At 11:45, three men were returning from a hunting trip and noticed Tara pedaling on her bike and heading to her home. They also saw that very closely behind her there was a white truck, but she appeared unaware due to the fact that she had headphones on. Around the same time, another man stated that he saw Tara pedaling on her bike on her way home with a white truck closely behind her. This man also said that he thinks he saw a man in the truck alongside the driver, and this was the last confirmed sighting of Tara Calico.
At 12:05, Patty left her house in her car to go find Tara as Tara had asked her to earlier that morning. She drove down the railroad tracks and back up twice, but did not find Tara anywhere. Patty’s initial thought was that Tara had maybe been in some kind of accident, and so the first thing she did was call up all the local hospitals to see if Tara was there. However, the hospitals had no one that matched Tara’s description. Patty then chose to call Tara’s closest friends to see if Tara’s friends knew where her daughter was, but her friends had no clue as to where she was. This was when Patty really began to panic and called the police to report her daughter as officially missing.
The next day, on the west of the highway, investigators discovered a set of bike tracks that seemed to go off the road and onto the soft shoulder of the road. The bike tracks led to about a hundred yards off the side of the road where they stopped and found some fresh tire tracks as well as a patch of oil. From this spot, there was a bunch of fresh footprints that led to a different spot which is where investigators discovered a music cassette tape of the band “Boston” which belonged to Tara.
Investigator’s next move was to question any witnesses that had been along this highway and in total they gathered around seven witnesses. Five of these discussed the suspicions around the white pick up truck they saw was following Tara. Another woman also came out and said that she heard some digging close to the highway, so police chose to excavate the area but still found there to be nothing.
On June 15th 1989 in Port Saint Joe, Florida, a woman was leaving a grocery store when she found a polaroid on the floor of a parking lot. She said that when she’d gone into the store she remembered seeing a white Toyota cargo van parked in that spot and that they had already gone when she had left the grocery store. This polaroid featured a young girl with an even younger boy gagged with duct tape and their wrists were bound behind their backs as well as their legs tied up. It appeared as if they were in a van: https://www.google.ch/search?q=tara+calico+polaroid+photo&hl=en-CH&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjgu7jyw7veAhXBzKQKHYEACKQQ_AUIDigB&biw=1440&bih=821#imgrc=I2FVHAfM0MmgeM:
The woman handed this polaroid in to authorities and police immediately contacted the company that developed the photo, and when police did this they found out that the photo had been developed in May of that year. When the polaroid was discovered, Tara’s family that was more of a distant family was watching a TV show in their home in Albuquerque when all of a sudden a news show appeared on the screen that showed the polaroid. Tara’s family immediately recognized it as Tara so they chose to ring up Patty straight away and tell her what they’d just seen. Many missing children’s names came forward in hopes of identifying who the young boy in the polaroid was. The most likely being a young boy named Michael Henley who was only 10 when he disappeared just five months before Tara did. He had been out camping with his dad and when his dad turned around Michael disappeared out of sight. However, it has now been confirmed that the boy in this photo is not Michael Henley.
Patty flew out to Florida to see the polaroid for herself and when she saw the polaroid in person, she said that she strongly believed that this was her daughter. Patty said that she could see Tara’s scar on her leg which is why she was so sure that it was Tara. However, police could never fully conclude that the girl in the polaroid was Tara or not, and could only go from Patty’s description. In later years, two more polaroid photos surfaced the news and when police asked Patty if she believed that these photos were Tara as well, Patty denied and said that these photos did not look like Tara. Thus, Patty believes that only the first photo is of Tara and that the other two photos are of another girl being tied up.
In 1991, Patty and John decided that they would apply to become official deputies so they could conduct their own investigation. They became authorized deputies to look into Tara’s investigation since they said that they didn’t trust the investigation carried out throughout the whole case because they didn’t like the way the investigation was being conducted.
One of the reasons that Tara’s parents had an issue with the case was that three of the strongest suspects actually killed themselves days before they were supposed to be questioned, and Tara’s parents believe that there had to be a reason that all three of them killed themselves and they don’t believe that it’s a coincidence that this happened just days before they were supposed to be questioned. However, police didn’t seem to treat this as suspicious at all.
In September of 2008, a sheriff announced publicly that he knew what happened to Tara Calico that day due to information he had received. He claimed that four young boys who were acquaintances of Tara accidentally hit her with their pick up truck while they were riding down the route that Tara was riding. He claimed that they threw her and her bike in the back of their pick up truck and then took her to a gravel pit to dump her body so that they wouldn’t get in trouble.
Which theory do I believe?
This case is so confusing because there is so much contrasting information, and I really don’t know what to think of all of it. It’s obvious that Tara was unfortunately kidnapped, but I’m trying to figure out if this was a murder and rape abduction or if Tara was sold into sex trafficking. Right now, I am leading towards sex trafficking. This is due to the fact that a white pick up truck was seen to be following Tara very closely, and I think that it’s strange for two men who are not involved in a sex trade to randomly see a woman and choose to rape her in broad daylight. Considering the fact that they were in a white truck, it seems more likely that this was their job and that they were actually looking for a woman to abduct. As far as the polaroid goes, I have no idea whether or not that’s Tara. Polaroid photos would make sense in a sex slavery ring, but considering it was found in Florida, it seems unlikely. I don’t know what to think of this case, but we are definitely looking at abduction and murder.
Bibliography & Credit: Rose, Caitlin, director. WHO IS IN THE POLAROID PHOTO? WHERE IS TARA CALICO? Unsolved Sunday | Caitlin Rose. YouTube, YouTube, 19 Mar. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=AemXQqEDr6o.