Podcast created to help solve 30-year-old Belen cold case | KOB 4

Podcast created to help solve 30-year-old Belen cold case

Colton Shone
September 06, 2018 11:00 PM

BELEN, N.M. - It's a case that made national headlines thirty years ago: the disappearance of Tara Calico. It rocked the small community of Belen. Neighbors were suspicious of neighbors. Parents were afraid to let their children outside alone.


Calico's family and friends are still searching for answers and believe their own investigation is heating things up. They say they won't stop until they get closure.

"It's difficult. Every year, you hope you're going to find out something. You hope this is the year and somebody is going to finally say something and come forward and tell us," said Tara's stepsister Michele Doel.

Calico was last seen riding her bike along Highway 47, south of Belen near mile marker 15. It was a bike ride that she did almost every single day. On the morning of her disappearance, she told her mom to come look for her if she wasn't back by noon. She hasn't been seen since.

The stunning rugged terrain of the Manzano Mountains may have been the very last thing the 19-year-old woman saw alive.

It's a haunting thought that's plagued Doel's mind. She's been asking the same questions: What really happened and why?

"It was very frightening, you know, you never thought something was going to happen to you or somebody you know in that type of community," she said.

In never-before-seen documents from the case file, Doel showed KOB a timeline of Calico's day on September 20th, 1988.

The documents reveal that Calico left for her bike ride at 9:30 a.m. and was last seen between 11:15 and noon by a woman named Annie.

Determined to get answers, Doel and Calico's high school friend, Melinda Esquibel turned their investigation into a podcast called Vanished: The Calico Investigation.

"She was very fun-loving, she liked to laugh," Esquibel said.

The two are conducting their own investigation, going through hundreds of uncovered documents themselves.

"I think we have a general understanding of what happened. I just think some of the details are missing, just a few details that we'd like to learn," Esquibel said.

Their podcast has over a million subscribers and got national attention from Nancy Grace to People Magazine.

"It has generated new information yes, absolutely. Michelle and I have been feeding everything we get to the sheriff's office and the FBI," said Esquibel.

Doel believes there's no happy ending to this story, theorizing her stepsister was murdered. However, she still wants to find the truth.  

"I always said if this had happened to me or somebody else in my family, she would have done this. She would have been the person who was persistent and not given up. No matter what, no matter what obstacles have been faced. I want people to remember her as a strong individual who had something going for her," she said.


Colton Shone

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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