On October 1, 2001, 19-year-old Tara Ord-Sidarovich when missing in her new town of Punta Gorda, FL. What happened to her?
The first sign that something was amiss was when Tara’s younger siblings Veronica and Paul Ord couldn’t find her after they returned home from school on the school bus on that Monday afternoon. Tara’s car, however, was parked at home and her purse was inside the house.
Other things array at home were scuff marks on the dresser and damage to a palm tree in the yard, tire tracks, and two of Tara’s ribbons right outside the front door. There was also jewelry and cash missing from the house.
Tara worked at the Golden Isle Jewelry, a kiosk at the mall. She called to tell a coworker she was going to come by to pick up her paycheck the day she went missing. Tara never arrived, though.
She didn’t return home either. Her mother contacted the police, but they told her to wait another 24 hours to report her missing because she was an adult. Her parents at in “gut-wrenching” pain while they waited to be able to do something.
Eventually, the police did become involved in the search for Tara. They embarked on a months-long search but found nothing, so the case turned cold. Almost a year later, in July 2002, police found a makeshift grave in the wilderness of Burnt Shore Road with Tara’s remains. They didn’t have any leads about who murdered her.
True crime coverage helped revive the case and lead to arrests. In 2007 a man named Michael Artell saw the case on a TV show and remembered meeting Phillip Barr in jail. Phillip was in for check fraud, but Michael thought he was also involved in Tara’s murder because he had confided in Micahel that he was scared about becoming a suspect.
When police reinvestigated the case they found that Phillip Barr and David Ray McMannis were at Tara’s house the day of her disappearance to perform septic work. Charlotte County Sheriff’s Lt. Brian Harrison said he saw Phillip cleaning out his truck the day after Tara went missing.
To further add suspicion, Phillip’s girlfriend at the time saw him load a large bloody bundle into his truck the day of Tara’s disappearance. He told her that the bundle was a dead hog, but she became convinced that it was actually Tara’s body.
In 2015 Phillip Barr was convicted of slaying Tara, and his accomplice David Ray McMannis was convicted in 2017. Both men are serving life sentences.
The entire family had just moved from Scranton, Pennsylvania to the Florida town. Tara had wanted to build a career as a crime scene investigator, but her dreams and her future were taken away while she was at home waiting for septic repair.
Tonight’s Dateline episode entitled “The Knock at the Door” originally aired in 2017, and deals with Tara Ord-Sidarovich’s murder.