A Missing Girl and a Polaroid: The Mysterious Disappearance of Tara Calico

A Missing Girl and a Polaroid: The Mysterious Disappearance of Tara Calico

tara calico

At 9:00 am on September 20, 1988, a hazel-eyed 19 year-old named Tara Leigh Calico set off on a bike ride from her home in the sleepy New Mexico town of Belen. Keen cyclist Tara had borrowed her mother’s neon pink Huffy mountain bike because her own was damaged. She was last seen at 11:45 am, making her way along Highway 47 in Valencia County. When Tara left home that morning, nobody could have imagined that she would soon be classed a missing person.

Tara Calico had made plans to play tennis with her boyfriend that afternoon. Having expected her home by lunchtime, Tara’s mother Patty Doel began to worry, and decided to set out in search of her daughter. Unable to find a trace of Tara, Patty contacted the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office. Missing person investigations quickly sprung into action, and police spoke to a witness that had seen a light-colored pickup truck driving alongside Tara. They discovered broken pieces of the young woman’s Walkman and cassette tape on the roadside, but no other signs or leads were forthcoming.

A Mysterious Polariod Is Discovered

tara calico

Almost a year later, in June of 1989, a shopper made an alarming discovery in Port St. Joe, Florida. Some fifteen hundred miles from where Tara Calico had gone missing, the woman found a polaroid photograph in the parking lot of a Junior Food Store. She’d noticed the small printed picture after a white Toyota van pulled away from the parking spot. To her alarm, the woman realized that it depicted a young woman and a little boy, bound and gagged in the back of a van, so she called the police.

Local police immediately began searching both for the van and the possible captives suspected to be within it. Road blocks were set up around the area, but the vehicle was never found. Having both gone cold, the two cases were not connected until July 28, when Tara’s father Joel received a call from a friend who had seen the Polaroid image on a Current Affair television show.

The Sheriff’s apartment agreed that the girl in the image shared a likeness with Tara, although they couldn’t be sure. Simultaneously, the case of missing 9 year-old, Michael Henley, was also tied to the photograph. The boy had vanished in April of that year when hunting with his father around 75 miles from the location of Tara’s disappearance.

Uncertainty And Poor Communication

The Polaroid was analyzed by both the FBI and Scotland Yard, with the former concluding that it wasn’t Tara, and the latter concluding that it was. Michael Henley’s parent’s were convinced that the Polaroid depicted their son, but their suspicions were dispelled when the boy’s remains were found in 1990, not far from where he had gone missing. Mother Patty pointed out that the girl in the image shared the same scar as Tara on the back of her right shoulder. A book by one of Tara’s favorite authors was also visible beside the girl in the van.

Adding to the anguish of Tara’s parents, two more Polaroids appeared in the years that followed; one blurrily depicting a young woman’s face, and a second showing a bound young woman with an unidentified male on an Amtrak train. The identity of the individuals in all three Polaroids has never been confirmed.

As the search continued, a diversity of false leads led missing person investigators on several wild-goose-chases in their hunt for Tara Calico. In 2008, Valencia Sheriff Rene Rivera claimed that he knew what had happened to Tara, describing witness accounts of two teenage males seen harassing Tara before knocking her from her bicycle with their vehicle. Rivera indicated that they may have disposed of her body having killed her by accident, but refused to name the suspects citing a lack of evidence. Tara’s father Joel was reportedly greatly distressed that no arrests were made.

Reaching Out For Additional Missing Person Assistance

In their quest to discover what happened to their daughter, Tara’s parents never gave up hope. Each year, they brought Tara gifts and kept her room ready, just in case she ever returned home. Tragically, both Patty and Joel passed away without ever learning what happened to their daughter. Tara’s siblings and friends continue to search for answers.

For those who face the immense burden of a missing loved one today, there are more options available when it comes to seeking missing person assistance. The team here at Lauth Investigations are ever-ready to turn expertise, cutting edge resources, and more than two decades of experience to following the trail of your missing loved one. We can also assist with establishing effective Go Fund Me campaigns, so that friends and family members can focus on the search rather than fretting about finances. New resources such as Interpol’s I Familia database also aid us in taking missing person investigations international. To discover more about how we can assist, contact our team today.

REVEALED: The hidden methods investigators use to find missing people

REVEALED: The hidden methods investigators use to find missing people

Lauth Missing Persons Investigators can help you
One woman, detectives working on a case in dark office.

Revealed: The Hidden Methods Private Investigators Use to Find Missing Persons

The true crime world is fascinated by tales of missing persons. Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services are always adding new documentaries and series about missing persons, which often detail the sophisticated methods that law enforcement uses to find missing persons.  However, when law enforcement cannot close a missing person case, families will turn to the expertise of a private investigator to find a missing person—but without the resources and support of a law enforcement agency, how does a private investigator find a missing person?

Verified Databases

Although private investigators do not have access to the same level of informational resources as law enforcement, they still have tools at their disposal to help find a missing person. Through their licensure by the state, private investigators have access to verified databases that allow them to conduct background checks on subjects in a case. When trying to find a missing person, these databases can be used to develop leads, find a subject’s last known address, look up criminal histories, and so much more.

Surveillance

Private investigators typically have diverse and comprehensive experience in surveillance operations. Surveillance is one of the covert ways that private investigators can find a missing person. Surveillance operations are a great way for private investigators to collect data, develop leads, and document the unseen factors in a missing person case.  For example, when trying to find a missing person in a sex trafficking ring, private investigators may set up surveillance equipment around a suspected hub of operations in order to develop a concrete plan for recovery. Such recordings and pictures can also be used in criminal and civil court.

Witness Rapport

When trying to find a missing person, one of a private investigator’s best tools is their ability to identify potential witnesses and develop a rapport with them in order to extract information. This can be done overtly or covertly. Sometimes investigators attempt to develop a personal relationship with witnesses in order to extract information from them without suspicion. Within reason, investigators may also wear disguises and present alternative pretenses for speaking with the witness. Whatever the circumstances of the case demands, investigators have the ability to develop leads and corroborate previously received testimony regarding the relevant facts in the case.

Undercover Operations

In some circumstances, it might become necessary for an investigator to develop a ruse or undercover operation in order to find a missing person. Investigators have been known to go undercover as delivery drivers, party patrons, or in extreme circumstances, embedding themselves into criminal enterprise in order to get answers. Investigators can wear covert surveillance equipment on their person, such as hidden cameras and microphones, in order to document relevant facts in the case and use them to develop further leads in recovering or finding the missing person.

Awareness Campaigns

Keeping a missing person’s face out in the media is crucial to a continuing a flow of information and leads for investigators. Though it may sound harsh, the public has a very short memory. Cases of missing people, particularly women of color, are forgotten almost as soon as they’re heard. It typically falls to the families of missing persons to conduct missing person awareness campaigns on their own time, relentlessly sharing their picture and story so that it may increase the chances of their loved one being found. Law enforcement does not typically devote sources specifically to awareness campaigns, but private investigators sometimes offer online awareness campaigns as part of their services for finding missing persons. The more time the missing person’s face is in the public eye, the more leads investigators are likely to generate.

To learn more about missing person investigations and resources, visit us online at www.lauthmissingpersons.com.

Barry Morphew Arrested in Disappearance of Wife, Suzanne Morphew

Barry Morphew Arrested in Disappearance of Wife, Suzanne Morphew

The family of Suzanne Morphew has finally seen movement in the case of the missing Colorado mother who disappeared one year ago. Her husband, Barry Morphew, has been arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder in the presumed death of Suzanne, authorities announced on Wednesday.

Though Suzanne Morphew’s body has not been found, the affidavit that was the basis for Morphew’s arrest detailed reasons why investigators believe he is responsible for his wife’s disappearance and presumed death. While that affidavit remains under seal, Morphew also exercised his right to remain silent, immediately asking for representation following his arrest. Chaffe County Sheriff, John Spezze, said, “Today is not the day for celebration nor does it mark the end of this investigation. Rather it’s the next step in this very difficult yet very important journey as we seek justice for Suzanne and her family.”

Suzanne Morphew, 49, has been missing for over a year, disappearing on May 10, 2020, Mother’s Day. She was reported missing when a neighbor called 911 to report that Morphew had gone for a bike ride and never returned. In a Facebook video that arched many eyebrows on the internet, Barry Morphew pled with the public for any information leading to her safe return, offering a $200,000 reward. “Now questions asked, however much they want, I will do whatever it takes to get you back,” Morphew said in the video.

When searches by law enforcement of the area where Suzanne went bike-riding turned up nothing, her brother, Andy Moorman, announced in mid-September that he was recruiting and organizing volunteers for his own search efforts. “I need to find her, need to bring her home, give her a proper burial and closure for my family,” he told KMGH-TV. “And that’s my point, I’m not about finding somebody guilty or trying to inflict punishment on anyone. That’s law enforcement’s job.”

Morphew’s arrest is the result of a sprawling effort by law enforcement to find answers in his wife’s disappearance. More than 135 searches have been conducted in the state of Colorado, and investigators interviewed an excess of 400 people across several states. Suzanne was described by Spezze as “a rare find” and someone who was much beloved by those who knew her. She had two daughters at the time of her disappearance.

Missing Mother Kadence Hooper, two sons found alive and safe

Missing Mother Kadence Hooper, two sons found alive and safe

Missing person investigators in Alabama have recently closed the search for a missing mother and her two children following initial reports that they might be in danger. Kadance Cierra Hooper, aged 29, was last seen with her two young sons last seen Tuesday, February 16, 2021.

Kadence and her children went missing after she had picked up her oldest son from school on Tuesday. An already disturbing disappearance was further exacerbated by medical complications related to Kadence’s illness of multiple sclerosis, which is known to cause anxiety and depression. An alert was released by the New Brockton Police Department about the disappearance, stating “Mrs. Hooper is a 29-year-old white female and may be living with a condition that may impair her judgement.” Investigators had additional concerns about Kadance following a report that she had taken possession of two handguns prior to disappearing with her two young sons, leading investigators to believe she was armed and may be a danger to herself or her others. Investigators believed Kadance to have disconnected her phone, making it impossible for law enforcement to track her. Law enforcement placed a BOLO, or statewide alert on her vehicle, and advised the public that she may be armed and her judgement may be impaired.

After eight long days of searching, New Brockton Police were able to report that Kadence and her children were finally located, alive and safe.

When a loved one goes missing, consider hiring a private investigator to conduct a concurrent missing person investigation with law enforcement. This ensures that no stone will be left unturned and your family can get answers fast. Call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our missing person services. Call 317-951-1100 or visit us online at www.lauthmissingpersons.com.

Have You Seen Crystal Marie Fry? Family Still Searching for Missing Mother

Have You Seen Crystal Marie Fry? Family Still Searching for Missing Mother

Have you seen missing mother, Crystal Marie Fry? For months, her family has been searching for answers following Crystal’s disappearance amid distressing circumstances in her personal life. After 90 days with no case progression, the family has turned to the missing person investigators at Lauth Investigations International to join the search for Crystal.

Crystal Marie Fry, 31, was last heard from on November 11, 2020. At the time of her disappearance, Crystal was living in Baltimore, MD with her boyfriend, the father of her two youngest daughters. On November 11, Crystal contacted her mother, Teresa Silverman, to explain some of the details of what she called the “worst three days of her life.”  Crystal claimed someone had kicked in her front door, damaging it in the process, so she would be staying with the father of her oldest daughter until it could be fixed. It was during this time that Crystal reportedly claimed to be “afraid for her life.” The following day when she was expected to turn up to her mother’s home to explain more about the break-in, Crystal never showed up.

When she spoke to Lauth investigators, Teresa described her daughter as a beautiful mother who was always stepping up to help out, “She’s caring. If anything’s wrong, she steps right in and tries to help take care of people. She loves her girls to death.” Teresa advised Lauth Investigators that Crystal would never have gone this long without contacting her children, claiming that holidays and special occasions were very important to her. Crystal also shared passions for baking and cooking with her girls, who have been missing their mother for over three months.

The last person she was known to have contact with was the father of her oldest daughter, when she told him she got a flat tire on the way to his residence. In the weeks following their last communication, Teresa Silverman hit the streets, trying to find the location of her daughter’s last residence when she didn’t respond to messages. After days of searching, they were finally able to locate the townhouse where she had been staying in Baltimore where her car was parked out front—one of the tires still flat.

Since she reported her daughter missing, Teresa says her perception of law enforcement’s efforts to investigate Crystal’s case have been beyond disappointing, reporting difficulties getting updates on the case and a general feeling of apathy from police. Now she has contracted Lauth Investigations International to conduct an independent investigation concurrent with law enforcement to ensure that no lead is unexplored in her daughter’s disappearance. “The circumstances under which Crystal went missing are troubling, and our team is exploring multiple leads in her disappearance,” said lead investigator, Thomas Lauth. Lauth has over 30 years of experience investigating missing person cases of all types and is considered one of the country’s foremost experts in missing persons.

Crystal Marie Fry is 31 years old, is 5 feet 7 inches tall, weights approximately 135lbs and, has blue eyes and brown hair. You can donate to the GoFundMe for the independent investigation here.

Anyone with information please contact the Baltimore Police Department at 410-396-2221 or call 911.

United Airlines executive, Jake Cefolia, still missing

United Airlines executive, Jake Cefolia, still missing

In Chicago, Illinois, the search is still underway for a missing United Airlines executive who went disappeared on August 6, 2020. Jake Cefolia, 49, is the senior vice president of United Airlines worldwide sales. He was last seen on August 6 before plans to go for a run in his neighborhood. Even after twenty days missing, police have declared they still have no leads in his disappearance.

United Airlines executive, Jake Cefolia, still missing

After he was reported missing on August 8, a search campaign was immediately launched to find the airline executive, including law enforcement, citizen volunteers, and a Facebook group that continues to grow every day. As of August 24, Elmhurst Police Chief, Michael Ruth, informed the press that authorities had yet to find any reason to suspect foul play in Cefolia’s disappearance. One of the scant clues in Cefolia’s disappearance was his abandoned vehicle. After two days of searching, the vehicle was finally located in a Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve parking lot.

Law enforcement circled resources, including over 100 volunteers and K-9 dog units to search the Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve. Chief David Peterson of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County told ABC7 Chicago said that they knew Cefolia commonly ran a 10-mile loop in the preserve, “We don’t know for sure he’s still at the forest preserve, but at this point there’s been no contact with family or friends.” The area law enforcement have been searching for the missing United Airlines executive spans 2,500 acres, and required additional deployment of foot patrol, K-9 units, drones, boats, and all-terrain vehicles. “We are hoping to find him. Every time our phone is ringing, I’m wondering, is this the call where we find him.” Peterson told ABC7. In addition to his car, the Elmhurst Police also had a chance to review surveillance footage from a gas station nearby after Cefolia was seen at his home the day he went missing. Chief Michael Ruth pointed out that although the footage is low-quality, Jake Cefolia’s manner of dress was not consistent with a person who was going on a run.

His employer also took notice when Cefolia did not report for work on August 7, and has released a statement pertaining to the missing United Airlines executive, “Our friend and colleague, Jake Cefolia, SVP of Worldwide Sales, was last seen Thursday evening, August 6th. We are concerned about his well-being and have been in touch with Jake’s family over the last couple of days to offer them our support. At the request of the family, we won’t be releasing any additional details at this time.”

Independently of law enforcement, Jake Celfolia’s family has organized their own search efforts, including a Facebook page with over 1000 members where people can compare information and intelligence on their own searches. The police report on Cefolia’s disappearance states that he “had been stressed out lately” due to work pressures, and that his ex-wife had told police her former husband had sometimes fantasized about “going off the grid.” There were also reports that Cefolia might have been feeling despondent recently due to a breakup with a girlfriend.

In a recent article published by CrimeOnline, journalist Ellen Killoran reported that prior to the onset of Cefolia’s missing person case, the missing United Airlines executive was the subject of a criminal probe. Chief Ruth was unable to provide further details, but stated that “a criminal investigation was underway” prior to Cefolia’s disappearance. It should be noted that Cefolia has not been charged with any crimes, and that there are no warrants for his arrest. “We would like to find him and reunite him with his family, and [continue with] the other aspect that we have going on.”