Mysterious Polaroid Picture: The Disappearance of Tara Calico

Kym L Pasqualini
9 min readJul 13, 2020
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

Witnesses came forward and said they saw an older-model, white or light-colored pickup truck with a camper shell, in the area of New Mexico 47. They said they saw it following Tara on the return leg of her trip.

Witnesses even said the passenger was the 18-year old son of an influential local law enforcement officer.



Kym L Pasqualini

A veteran crime victim advocate who loves to write. Founder and CEO of the National Center for Missing Adults from 1994–2010.