NM TARA CALICO: Missing from Belen, NM - 20 Sept 1988 - Age 19


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The Doe Network:
Case File 257DFNM


Right: Age-progression to 34 years (circa 2003) by Wesley Neville

Tara Leigh Calico
Missing since September 20, 1988 from Belen, Valencia County, New Mexico.
Classification: Endangered Missing

Vital Statistics
Date Of Birth: February 28, 1969
Age at Time of Disappearance: 19 years old
Height and Weight at Time of Disappearance: 5'7; 120 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: White female. Brown hair; green or hazel eyes. Lazy eye.
Marks, Scars: Calico has a large scar on the back of her right shoulder, and a cowlick on her right temple. She also has a dime-sized brown-colored birthmark on the back of her leg.
Dentals: Available. Sealants on most posterior teeth. Post orthodontic status.
DNA: Available

Circumstances of Disappearance
Calico left her house on Brugg Street in Belen, New Mexico to go on a bike ride at 09:30 on the morning of September 20, 1988. She took her mother's bike because her own was damaged. She was last seen riding her mother's neon pink Huffy mountain bicycle with yellow control cables and sidewalls on Highway 47 in Valencia County, at approximately 11:45 a.m. Calico biked the route daily during her routine 36-mile ride.
Around 11:45, witnesses observed a 1953 Ford pickup truck, dirty white or light gray -in color, with a white homemade shell, following Tara, who was wearing headphones, down the unpopulated stretch of highway where she was riding, but no one saw the abduction. The bike, a pink Huffy, has never been found. She was 2 miles from home at the time of the sighting. The small, cracked plastic window of the Sony Walkman was recovered 19 miles east of N.M. 47 near the remote John F. Kennedy campground.
Calico's mother believes that her daughter deliberately discarded the items as a way to mark her trail. Detectives also identified bike tracks on the north side of the shoulder of N.M. 47, near the place the cassette tape was found, where a scuffle might have taken place.

If you have any information concerning Calico's whereabouts, please contact:
Valencia County Sheriff's Department
Belen Police Department
The New Mexico Department of Public Safety
All information may be submitted on an anonymous basis.

NCIC Number: M-461117833
Please refer to this number when contacting any agency with information regarding this case.

Source Information:
Albuquerque Tribune

edited by staff to add media link

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I'm not an American and I don't live in the USA, but this is one of the cases that struck me; I really can't get an idea of what happened to Tara, it's terrible.


Staff member

The Missing on ID searches for teenagers Tara Calico and Desirea Ferris​

The Missing is exploring the cases of two missing teenagers, who both vanished without a trace or reason leaving their families grasping for answers.

Tara Calico was 19-years-old when she failed to return home from a bike ride. She has now been missing for over 30 years, and there have been no arrests or leads in the case.

On September 20, 1988, Tara Calico borrowed her mom’s neon pink Huffy bicycle to go for a ride, but she never returned to her home in Belen, NM. She was last seen at approximately 11:45 am riding along Highway 47 in Valencia County. She has not been seen since.

A year after her disappearance, a mysterious polaroid was discovered in a parking lot in Florida, which showed two teenagers, bound and gagged, in the back of a van.

Tara’s family thought that the girl in the image could be her. Numerous law enforcement agencies analyzed the photo, but a consensus could not be agreed upon.

Scotland Yard concluded that the girl in the image was Tara, but the Los Alamos National Laboratory stated that it wasn’t her. The FBI’s technician couldn’t reach a definite conclusion. The boy in the image was not identified either. A white windowless van was spotted near where the photo was found, but otherwise, detectives had no leads.

A later theory has posited that Tara had been killed in a hit and run incident by two teenagers who then panicked and disposed of the body. However, as of October 2020, no arrests have been made.

Tara was 5 foot 5 to 5 foot 7 and approximately 115 to 120 pounds when she disappeared. She had hazel eyes and brown hair with a cowlick over her right temple. She has a large scar on the back of her right shoulder and a dime-sized brown-colored birthmark on the back of one of her legs.

The FBI is offering a reward of $20,000 for any information that leads to an arrest of someone involved in her disappearance.



Staff member
43 unsolved missing cases the FBI needs fresh leads on
Amid the disappearance of Gabby Petito that has captured the nation's attention, FBI officials say hundreds of thousands of people go missing every year. In May, the FBI conducted an internal audit and compiled a list of 43 unsolved cases of people under the age of 21 that the agency says need fresh leads. Some date back decades. Here's the list.

Tara Leigh Calico was 19 when she went missing from Valencia County, New Mexico, on Sept. 20, 1988. More information and age-progressed photos here.

Tara Leigh Calico was 19 when she went missing from Valencia County, New Mexico, on Sept. 20, 1988. More information and age-progressed photos here.

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