By all accounts, Tara was an intelligent, dedicated and selfless young woman. Her mother said she regularly gave blood, for instance, and she was always the one to organize family events. All in all, she was a girl who seemed to have her whole life ahead of her and was likely looking forward to a promising future.
However, on September 20, 1988, Tara disappeared. By that time, she was 19 years old and had just started her second year of college. Crucially, she was also in the habit of taking her bicycle out for a daily spin along New Mexico State Road 47, a highway that runs through Valencia County.
Previously, Tara and her mom Patty had enjoyed spending time cycling the route together. However, Patty had at the time recently become concerned about the habit, believing that a car was following them. In fact, she even went so far as to advise her daughter to carry mace. But, perhaps unfortunately, Tara refused.