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Chilling Polaroid pictures paint grim picture of what happened to missing woman
July 31, 2021
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Chilling Polaroid photographs paint a sinister picture of the death of a young woman who went missing more than two decades ago.
On September 20, 1998, Tara Calico, 19, decided to go out for her usual daily bike ride – but she never returned.
Her mother Patty Doel would usually join the teen on her ride, but a recent incident where she felt she had been followed by a motorist meant she was no longer comfortable joining her daughter.
That morning, Tara had jokingly asked her mum to come and get her if she got a flat tire if she hadn't returned by noon.
The 19-year-old took her Sony Walkman, headphones and cassette tape on the ride with her – she refused to carry the mace her mother had urged her to take.
When she didn't return by noon, a missing person report was quickly filed by Patty.
Officers found pieces of Tara's Walkman and cassette tape scattered along the side of the road later that day. Tara and her bike were nowhere to be seen.
Witnesses said they saw a white or light-coloured pickup truck following Tara on the return leg of her trip.
A whole year later, following no leads to Tara's whereabouts, a Polaroid picture of an unidentified young woman and little boy was found in a car park in Florida.
Both victims were gagged and bound, facing the camera in the back of what seemed to be a white van.
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Investigators contacted Polaroid and found out the picture must have been taken after May 1989 because the film had not been available to purchase before that date.
The photo made national news and appeared on a popular TV show called 'A Current Affair', Patty's friends saw the program and alerted her that they believed it was Tara in the photo.
Relatives of Michael Henley, a 9-year-old who went missing from New Mexico in 1988, also saw the show and believed it was their little boy in the photograph.
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Both Tara's and Michael's parents met with investigators and Patty reportedly left the station convinced the young girl in the photo was her daughter.
She noticed a scar on the girl's leg that she said was identical to an injury Tara received in a car accident.
As well as this, a book by V.C. Andrews was next to the woman in the photo, Tara's favourite author.
Scotland Yard reportedly concluded the woman in the photograph was Tara, but the FBI's analysis was inconclusive.
Michael Henley went missing while hunting with his father in 1988 around 75 miles from where Tara had been abducted.
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His remains were discovered in 1990 around 7 miles from where he first vanished.
It is now deemed 'highly unlikely' that it was Michael in the photo, despite his mother and father being convinced the picture bore a resemblance.
Two more horrifying Polaroids were found over the years that followed.
The first appeared in California, and featured a blurry image of a girl's face covering her mouth with light blue fabric behind her, similar to the pillow in the original photo.
The second showed a woman bound in gauze with an unidentified male on an Amtrak train.
Tara's mother again believed that the woman in front of the striped fabric was her daughter, but thought the other one might have been a nasty prank.
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Michelle, Tara's sister, said: “They had a striking resemblance. As for me, I will not rule them out. But keep in mind our family has had to identify many other photographs and all but those were ruled out.”
In 2008, Valencia Sheriff Rene Rivera said he’d been told by several witnesses they had seen two young men in the truck grabbing at Tara and trying to talk to her, before hitting the vehicle into her bicycle, knocking her to the ground.
“From there, the individuals took her,” he added.
More witness reports have come to light in recent years too.
In November 2013, a dying confession from a witness identified three men as being involved in Tara's disappearance.
Her bicycle was allegedly thrown into a nearby junkyard and her body was thrown into a pond.
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Another report said Tara had been raped, stabbed to death and then covered with slabs of concrete – while another story said that Tara had been placed inside a freezer.
All of these heart breaking stories and claims didn't lead her parents and investigators to the body.
In 2019, the FBI announced a $20,000 reward for specific information regarding the location of Tara.