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35-Year-Old ‘Polaroid Girl’ Mystery May Finally Be Solved

For nearly 35 years, the mystery of what happened to 19-year-old Tara Calico has remained unsolved. On September 30, 1988, Tara set out on a bike ride near her home in Belen, New Mexico and was never seen again.

However, a disturbing Polaroid photo found in a Florida car park 11 months later reignited hope for the Calico family that she might still be alive. The picture showed two children gagged and bound in the back of a van with many believing it to be Tara and another boy who had gone missing around the same time.

This month, news broke that substantial progress had been made in solving this decades-old mystery as detectives prepare to arrest suspects linked to Tara’s disappearance.

Valencia County Sheriff’s Office have enlisted the help of the FBI and now believes they have enough evidence to move forward with charging those involved.

Lieutenant Joseph Rowland from Valencia County Sheriff’s Office told The Sun: “We are seeking to charge and arrest the offenders… This case has obvious challenges due to its age and circumstances… Legal experts are currently being briefed and caught up on 34 years of investigative work.”

Tara’s former classmate Melinda Esquibel has dedicated much of her life since high school investigating her friend’s disappearance.

She believes Tara was killed by a group of local boys after rejecting one them who had asked her out on a date; that she was taken down while riding her bike before being buried just 20 miles away from where she was kidnapped.

Despite having gathered 25,000 items into an extensive case file over her years of investigation, Melinda is aware that without formal arrests there can be no justice served for Tara – but thinks recent developments could bring about closure for both herself and the Calico family: “I feel like me and my team have solved the case… I believe that now the right people are working this case so justice can be served”.

According to an article in The Sun:

Lieutenant Joseph Rowland, the agent on the case for the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office, told The Sun: “Law enforcement believes they have identified the offenders associated with Tara Calico’s disappearance.

“We are seeking to charge and arrest the offenders.

“New evidence was found stemming from investigative work in October 2020 to the present.

“The District Attorney’s Office has assigned a team of prosecutors to review the investigation.

“This case has obvious challenges due to its age and circumstances.

“Legal experts are currently being briefed and caught up on 34 years of investigative work.”

At a bombshell press conference earlier this month, it was revealed that the names and details on the “persons of interest” will remain sealed for now.

Lieutenant Rowland said detectives will continue to ask the public for any information on Tara’s disappearance.

Melinda Esquibel, Tara’s former classmate, has spent years investigating her disappearance – and described her case as “a huge misjustice”.

“I believe that Tara’s case has been a huge misjustice within the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office and hope that now the right people are working this case so justice can be served,” she said.

Melinda believes her friend was stalked by a group of local boys after rejecting one of the lads who had asked her out on a date.

I feel like me and my team have solved the case

Melinda Esquibel

And she thinks the teen was killed on the same night she disappeared and buried just 20 miles from where she was killed – rather than being kidnapped by whoever was behind the Polaroid.

Speaking to The Sun last year, Melinda said: “I know that the family believes it is or could be her, but the data I have gathered shows that it cannot be her.

“None of the data I have leads to that girl being Tara.”

Tara never returned after setting out on a bike ride near her home in the city of Belen, New Mexico.

She set off on the 36-mile route at 9.30am – a route she rode most mornings, often with her mum, Patty Doel.

But her mum had stopped cycling with her because she thought she was being stalked by a driver.

Patty encouraged Tara to begin carrying mace to defend herself, but she rejected the idea.

Tara was last seen riding along a highway at 11.45am – with witnesses claiming to have seen her being followed by a light-coloured Ford pickup truck.

She had asked her mother to come and pick her up if she hadn’t returned by 12pm that fateful day because she had plans to play tennis with her boyfriend that afternoon.

When she didn’t return, Patty went searching along the route and contacted the cops after failing to find her.

The 19-year-old was never seen again with only fragments from her Sony Walkman and cassette tape found along the trail.

Back in 2019, the FBI announced a £16,000 reward for information leading to Tara’s whereabouts.

Melinda came up with the theory about Tara’s disapperance after interviewing hundreds of people and pulling together a case file containing a whopping 25,000 items.

Melinda told The Sun: “I feel like me and my team have solved the case, but I am not the authorities and there is not much I can do about making arrests.

“Therefore, I have to leave that up to them. I have no idea if anyone will ever make any arrests in this case.”

The specifics surrounding those persons arrested remain sealed – however new information will no doubt come forth once more is known about these individuals linked with this tragic story which began thirty-five years ago when Tara went out for a seemingly harmless morning bike ride only never return home again.




6 Responses

  1. I am not surprised that the Sheriff’s Office of Valencia County has not solved the case up to now and I am still not convinced that the case has been solved or will ever be solved. Sheriff’s Offices in small counties, even ones near Albuquerque, do not normally have competent homicide investigators and, if cases are not solved immediately, they fall into the “unsolved” waste basket, never to be resurrected. Even in larger counties, the Sheriff’s Offices normally have about a 50% solve rate, compared to a 95% solve rate in cities. This case does have an unusual factor not associated with a lot of unsolved cases: it has a best friend who has spent about 2/3rds of her life trying to find out what happen to her high school buddy. It is my sincere hope that her work pays off and those who caused the death of the victim are brought to justice.

    1. this is why criminals need to stay in a grave, or in jail, and outstanding warrants, should be a thing of the past. Taxpayers pay BIG BUCKS to have the evil, separated from the law abiding. About damn time this starts happening again. I hear how much people hate slavery, yet there is more of it today, than there was in the 1850’s? Amerika is full of cowards & hypocrites. RESTORE the republic of We the People. A gov’t. that promotes our “safety & happiness”. The reason “we” seceded from a tyrant in England 247 years ago today. An atheist, racist and tyrant fool in 1861

  2. The Bible says we are all being watched by Angels. Important times in our lives are being recorded. Even your own spiritual body records what you do. I talked to two men that died and went to hell. One overdose and another for being mean to people. They were revived and change 180 degrees. Marine Sgt. Dr John B Myers PhD Theology and American History. My web page is . The Second Coming of Christ happened over seven years ago. He comes from the Cloud in the Aramaic. Not clouds. Not flesh.

    1. when Jesus comes back (soon). everyone will know. Everybody will spend an eternity, somewhere. They will be only two places left…. heaven, and hell

    2. I don’t understand just with what little I have read in your comment but where are you getting your information about the bible??? YOU are wayyyyyy out there when it comes to what the bible teaches. Jesus did not come 7 years ago and He wasnt married to Mary Mag and He didn’t have a son. The bible is the ONLY authority on Jesus.
      Put all those other deceiving things aside and read just, the, bible and let God reveal the truth to you. satan is an angel of light. he’s a lier and the father of them. Know your real enemy. If you want to talk further, my name is John and my email is osagemann at yahoo dot com Put TRUTH in the subject line so I know it’s from you.

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