Big reward now offered in Calico case

........................................................................................................................................................................................

After 25 years of wondering what happened to her stepsister, Michele Doel is hopeful that a reward will get someone’s attention and start talking.

Tara Calico disappeared on Sept. 20, 1988, while riding her bike on N.M. 47 south of Rio Communities. Since then, her family and friends have been waiting for any information about what really happened to her.

Tara Calico Missing

Last month, Valencia County Sheriff Louis Burkhard announced the formation of a task force, comprised of officers and agents from the Valencia County Sheriff’s Department, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department, Albuquerque Police Department, New Mexico State Police and Homeland Security Investigation, to investigate Calico’s disappearance.

Earlier this week, the task force announced that anyone who provides information to law enforcement about the whereabouts or remains of Tara Calico will receive a $10,000 reward.

Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston said his department began distributing “cold case playing cards” that spotlight specific unsolved missing person or murder cases, including Calico’s. Tips leading to the arrest and conviction of any cold case highlighted in the deck of cards will receive a $25,000 reward.

Information can be submitted anonymously, toll-free, at 855-542-0952 or online at www.coldcasetaskforce.com.

Doel said she’s ecstatic about the reward and hopes it will help with the investigation and finally bring answers to the family.

“I am so excited,” Doel said. “Dan Houston called me last night and told me they were offering a reward. I wasn’t expecting it to be so much and so quick, and I’m just so grateful.”

Doel says after Tara disappeared, there was a substantial reward offered at the time, but because of the high cost of looking for her, most, if not all, of the reward money went toward the search.

Burkhard said he recently got together with task force members and said things are going well.

“They’re getting tips and putting information together,” Burkhard said. “A lot of it has been information that’s already been out there, and we’re just hoping the reward may help further the investigation. I think it’s a good thing and positive step toward getting this thing solved.”

Doel agrees, saying someone who might need the money will come forward with the needed information.

“With the economy the way it is today, this is definitely a motivation for somebody to finally give it up and say, ‘Here’s what I know,’” she said.

Doel and the investigators are seeking any information about the case, regardless of how insignificant one might think it might be.

“It may have been something that someone thought was unimportant at the time or that it was so long ago that it didn’t matter or that we it was something that we already knew,” she said. “But they might just have that one piece of information that we’re missing.

“Money motivates people, and if it’s another resource we have now, I’m grateful,” Doel said. “It’s a lot of money and I hope that it will hopefully finally give us answers.”

Doel is confident that there are people still around who know what happened to Calico and will finally come forward.

Burkhard said the reward money came from the federal narcotics fund, which the sheriff said is “perfectly OK” to use for these types of cases.

“It’s important to find out what happened and to hopefully give the family closure,” the sheriff said.


-- Email the author at cgarcia@news-bulletin.com.