A waitress at a Houston strip club suddenly vanishes.
The Men’s Club in Houston, Texas, is an upscale adult night spot. Tara Breckenridge waited tables there from 1989 to 1992. Tara grew up in Del Rio, Texas, and was the third of five children in a devoutly religious family. After high school, she arrived in Houston to pursue a career in photography. It wasn’t long before the cost of big city living forced her to find another job. As a waitress at The Men’s Club, Tara found the cash she needed. According to her friend, Gina Goldrup, The Club never fit Tara’s personality:
When Tara Breckenridge arrived in Houston, she was no different than thousands of small town girls with big city dreams. But for Tara, the dream may have ended in a horrible nightmare. In 1992, she vanished without a trace. The police and her parents believed Tara was murdered. And high on the list of possible suspects was Tara’s boyfriend at the time, a young man named Wayne Hecker.
Wayne and Tara had met two years after Tara arrived in Houston. Even though Tara never danced at The Men’s Club, Wayne was less than thrilled with her job:
Despite Wayne’s concerns, he and Tara moved in together. At first, they seemed happy. But according to Tara’s mother, Betty, the romance did not last:
Tara’s job at The Men’s Club distracted her from the problems with Wayne. But on the night of August 3, 1992, Tara did something that remains unexplained. It was a slow night and the management decided to send two waitresses home early. When the manager asked for volunteers to end their shift early, Tara volunteered to leave. According to Hal Naumann, the former manager of The Men’s Club, it was strangely out of character:
The security guard at the club told police that he walked Tara to her car and that she drove off without incident. Wayne Hecker later told the police that, at the moment Tara was leaving The Men’s Club, he was in a pool hall fifteen minutes away. Wayne said he called Tara earlier that evening, but never spoke to her:
At 7:00 the next morning, Wayne found Tara’s car abandoned on a busy freeway:
According to Wayne, the car was locked and a can of mace was inside:
Police feared that Tara was a victim of foul play. It wasn’t long before suspicion began to center on Wayne Hecker. Sergeant Brad Rudolph of the Houston Police Department, interrogated Wayne and was especially curious about his activities the night Tara disappeared:
The pool hall is located fifteen minutes from The Men’s Club. Tara’s car was found about three miles from the club. According to witnesses, Wayne was gone from the pool hall for a full hour and forty-five minutes. But with no concrete evidence of foul play, Tara was officially listed as missing.
When police obtained a series of love notes indicating there was another man in Tara’s life, they thought there might be a break in the case. One note said, “Please don’t be scared. Do what your heart tells you. I’m very excited that you’ll marry me.” But, then another one said, “The more you hold out, the longer you jeopardize what I feel for you.” According to co-workers at the club, Tara’s secret admirer was a frequent visitor who lavished her with hundred dollar tips. He apparently had intimate knowledge of her difficulties with Wayne. But according to Sergeant Rudolph, the notes seemed to indicate that Tara rejected the man’s advances:
But if Tara’s admirer was not a suspect, who was? Once again, a shadow of doubt was cast upon Wayne Hecker, who still maintained his innocence:
Other than her abandoned car, no trace of Tara Breckenridge has ever been found. Tara is 5’5″ tall and weighs 120 pounds. She has a small scar under the left side of her lower lip, a scar under her left arm, and a scar on her left side.