All You Need To Know About The Disappearance of Tara Calico

Tara Calico was last seen on the 20th of September 1988. It had been a very good day for Patty Doel, mother of Tara until her daughter failed to return at the time she said she was going to. Tara who lived with her mother in Belen, New Mexico, was known for her routine bike ride along New Mexico State Road 47 and was seen by neighbors as she rode by on that fateful day. Tara’s disappearance was widely perceived as a kidnap although no culprit or suspect has been identified or nabbed till date.

All hopes of finding her seemed to be lost until July 1989 when a Polaroid photo of a young woman and a boy surfaced. The unidentified young woman in the photo had a striking resemblance with the missing girl and was even confirmed by Doel to be Calico after careful examinations. However, a thorough analysis of the photo by the Los Alamos National Laboratory proved Doel wrong.

The development culminated in a host of investigations by several bodies which have all come with no leads till date. A lot of things can be described as weird and creepy in this unusual crime case. But this will not discourage us from shedding light on the facts we know.

Facts About the Disappearance of Tara Calico

Fateful Day

Tara Calico felt she may take longer than usual as she planned on playing tennis with her boyfriend at 12:30 pm. So she asked her mother, Doel to come to get her if she was not home by noon. Just as mother and daughter predicted, Calico was not home by noon. Doel then went out to get her and plied her normal morning route but didn’t find her daughter. She started asking around and people nearby admitted to seeing Calico ride past them earlier on. More scary revelations were that a pickup truck was seen following her as she rode by. However, no one saw Calico abducted or forced into a vehicle.

Doel Used to Ride with Tara Calico

Patty used to be her daughter’s riding mate until she felt she was being stalked by a motorist. This injected fear into her and she stopped the morning rides. Concerned about her daughter’s safety, she had advised Calico to carry along a self-defense spray whenever she rode but her daughter had shrugged off the idea.

Police Search

When Patty could not find her daughter, she contacted the police. The police could not locate Calico’s bike but found some pieces of her cassette tape and Walkman. These were believed to be a form of trail left by the missing girl. It was also thought that Calico wanted to run away from home and purposely went into hiding, but her heartbroken mother and stepfather, John Doel continued with their search.

Polaroid Photo

All hopes of finding Calico seemed to be lost until June 15, 1989, when a Polaroid picture surfaced. It was nine months after Calico’s disappearance when the photo emerged. The mysterious photo of a captured young woman and a boy, bound and gagged was found in the parking lot of a store in Port St. Joe, Florida. The photo was found by a woman in a parking space where a Toyota cargo had been parked. The driver of the vehicle has not been found till date.

The photo made rounds in the media as it dug up the seemingly forgotten disappearance of Calico. Patty Doel upon seeing the picture was convinced it was her daughter as she identified a scar on her leg which was identical to the one Calico received in a car accident. The boy in the photo was identified as 9-year-old Micheal Henley who went missing in April 1988. Henley’s mother and his family members also believed he was the one in the photo.

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Closure on Henley’s Case

Henley’s remains were later found in June 1990 in New Mexico’s Zuni Mountains, about 11km from where he had disappeared.

Further Investigations

The striking resemblance of the woman in the photo with Tara Calico motivated the Metropolitan Police Service otherwise known as Scotland Yard to conduct an analysis on the photo. Results from the analysis had concluded that Calico was the woman in the picture. But these results were trashed after a second analysis by the Los Alamos National Laboratory proved otherwise.

See Also: Anneliese Michel Biography and The Story Behind Her Exorcism


Endless searches and developments leading to nowhere was a huge physical and mental challenge for Patty Doel and her husband. After enduring for so long, the couple moved to Port Charlotte, over 2000 miles away from their home in New Mexico. This was to enable them, especially, Patty to move on.

More Developments

More developments continued to emerge even after the Doels moved. One of them was a claim by Sheriff Rena Rivera of Valencia County, N.M. in 2008, that Calico was murdered by two teenagers. According to him the boys who had been following her panicked after an accident occurred; and killed and disposed of her body to avoid being arrested. His claims were trashed after he said the teenagers, (then, men) could not be arrested without a body.

Two more polaroid photos similar to images of Calico have also surfaced, but none have been identified to be the missing woman. Tara Calico’s disappearance has remained a mystery.


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