Saturday, December 20, 2003
Investigators in Death of Cop's Wife Ask for Info. on Missing Teen
By Colleen Heild
Journal Investigative Reporter
The special prosecutor in the murder case against retired State Police Lt. Mark McCracken has asked to view the investigative file in the 1988 disappearance of Tara Calico off N.M. 47 in Valencia County.
McCracken, 41, was indicted Oct. 31 on first-degree murder charges of killing his 24-year-old wife, Melanie. A supervisor in the Los Lunas State Police office at the time of his wife's death in August 1995, McCracken has denied any involvement in her death.
Special Prosecutor Randall Harris declined on Friday to say why his investigators want to see the information gathered by the Valencia County Sheriff's Department in the Calico case.
Tara Calico, who was 19 years old at the time, was last seen 15 years ago riding her bicycle about one mile from her home in Rio Communities. Her case has been in and out of the public spotlight ever since.
McCracken joined the State Police in 1982. A spokesman said Friday night that McCracken was transferred from the Grants-Gallup district to Los Lunas in the 1980s.
McCracken's attorney, Peter Schoenburg, dismissed the idea of a link between McCracken and Calico's disappearance.
"I haven't ever heard an ounce of evidence to connect any of this," Schoenburg said. "It's hysterical fantasy. Next they'll have Mark as the second shooter on the grassy knoll."
Harris said he is exhausting all leads in preparation for the trial.
"We received some information, I don't know whether it's good information or not," Harris said, referring to the Calico case.
"I have no idea whether this has anything to do with the McCracken case or not. What I can tell you is we want to look at every single lead that comes in."
Patty Doel, Tara Calico's mother, said in an phone interview from Port St. Joe, Fla., that she had heard a rumor within the last six months that her daughter and McCracken had dated.
"I heard that but I just didn't take it seriously because she had never mentioned him at all," Doel said.
Valencia County Sheriff's detective Rene Rivera said McCracken's name has never surfaced in his investigation into the Calico disappearance.
He's working on possible leads involving the body of a young woman found in Oklahoma.
The sheriff's department wants to compare X-rays of that body with Calico's X-rays. Doel said her daughter had portions of two vertebraes removed after being injured in an accident.
Meanwhile, Harris said his investigators also have requested additional tests of McCracken's deceased wife's hair and nails to determine whether they show any traces of any sort of a previously undetected chemical or toxic substance in her system.
Two autopsies have been unable to determine how she died, but a medical expert for the prosecution contends she was asphyxiated.
Samples of hair and nails were saved by the Office of the Medical Investigator during an autopsy.
Melanie and Mark McCracken were married for 18 months when he said he found her unconscious on the bed at their Bosque Farms home.
McCracken said he was rushing his wife to an Albuquerque hospital when he lost control of his car and rolled the car off N.M. 47. She was declared dead at the scene.