Details: Nineteen-year-old Tara Calico left her home at 9:30 am in Belen, New Mexico, on the morning of September 20, 1988, to go on her normal 34 mile bike ride. She was last seen riding her neon Pink Huffy bicycle with yellow control cables and sidewalls on her usual route along Highway 47 when she vanished, with a suspicious vehicle following her.
On the morning of September 20th, 1988 in Belen, New Mexico, it seemed like a perfect day to ride a bike. Tara Calico borrowed her mother’s pink bike to go out for a spin. Extroverted and active, she worked as a bank teller and was studying to become either a psychologist or psychiatrist. She planned to play tennis that afternoon and asked her mom to drive out after her in case she got a flat tire and didn’t return home by noon. She never did return. Every lead went to a dead end until a year later, when a photo was found depicting a young woman her age and a missing boy, both gagged.
The Polaroid photograph was found in a parking lot outside a Junior Food Store in Florida. The nine-year-old, Michael Henley, went missing in the same area as Calico in April of 1988 when he was hunting turkeys with his father. They appeared to be in the back of a van, with a copy of a book written by V.C. Andrews, Calico’s favorite author, lying right beside the girl. Initially, Tara’s mother didn’t think the girl was her, but the girl in the photograph had a scar identical to Calico. But still, due to the lack of evidence, many experts dismiss the photograph.
In 1990, Michael Henley’s body was found in Zuni Mountains where he was hunting, which strongly disconnects the theory that the two were abducted and taken to Florida. Calico’s parents would eventually die, never finding out who took their daughter.
There are many theories revolving around this case and it seems like the majority believe the young woman was kidnapped however, years after Tara went missing a Valencia County sheriff publicly stated his belief that she was killed the day she disappeared when two local residents accidentally hit her with their truck and disposed of her body, but he had insufficient evidence to make an arrest. But if this theory is true, then what’s the story behind the two kids in the photograph?
Tara’s family moved to Florida in 2003. Tara’s mother Patty died in 2006. Her biological dad died in 2002, but her stepfather John Doel is still alive and hopes that she will be found. Two other photographs believed to be of Tara have surfaced in the years since her disappearance; however, the last photograph, showing a woman with bandages over her face on an Amtrak train with a man sitting next to her, is believed to be a prank. Investigators no longer believe that Tara was the girl in the photograph and have received leads that suggest that she was killed in a tragic hit-and-run accident on the day she vanished. Her body has never been found and those responsible have not been arrested.
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