Late last year, when we first posted about the search for Kara Nichols, she was nineteen.
Today, more than eight months after she set out from her Colorado Springs home for Denver, she turns twenty. Her loved ones are marking the date even as they're emphasizing that despite the passage of time, they're not giving up on locating an aspiring model said to have been involved in drugs and prostitution. Photos, details and our original coverage below.
Here's the new banner shared on the Help Us Find Kara Nichols Facebook page:
Accompanying the image is this note: "Monday is Kara's 20th Birthday, please post birthday wishes here for Kara! Happy birthday Kara, we miss you very much and will not give up looking for you!"
Here are some of the messages that have popped up in the past few hours:
Happy Birthday Kara. You are, and will always be, loved.
Happy Birthday Kara! I continue to pray for your safety.
KARA -- Happy Happy Birthday honey wherever you may be! I want you to know that no matter what, I pray for you and help to keep your name alive. I know Kara that you are out there, I just know it. Someday Kara, I know you are going to come home. I pray for strength for you, for health, comfort and peace. I also pray for mom and dad and your family who love you so so much. I know in my heart that you are a beautiful person with a loving heart. I love you Kara, Happy Birthday! Hurry home honey!!
As we've reported, Nichols vanished on October 9. Early on, the investigation into her disappearance focused to a large degree on Model Mayhem, a website for individuals interested in modeling, to which she'd affixed a profile. We've learned that two other missing young women -- Raven Furlong and Kelsie Jean Schelling -- had also created profiles for modeling-related sites, including Model Mayhem.
Then, in November, a photo of Nichols was spotted on what's described as a "Las Vegas escort-based website," prompting speculation that she was working as a prostitute in Nevada. This prospect wasn't beyond the realm of possibility: In January, Julia Nichols, Kara's mom, revealed that her daughter had "issues with drugs and the link to prostitution."
But even after sharing such personal and painful information, details about Nichols's whereabouts remained scarce -- and if she's found, her adult status means she can return or stay where she's at if she chooses. That's what happened with Furlong, who was contacted by police in California last month and decided to stay there.
Thus far, though, no one knows whether Kara has a chance to celebrate a happy birthday or not -- hence the continuing search. Share any information you might have at the Help Us Find Kara Nichols Facebook page.
Continue for our previous coverage of the search for Kara Nichols, including more photos. Original post, 5:56 a.m. January 29: Last November, we told you about the search for Kara Nichols, an aspiring teen model from Colorado Springs who'd vanished en route to Denver. At the time, a photo on the website of a Las Vegas escort service was alternately thought to be a false lead or a big break. Now, we know why it was taken seriously: Nichols's mother reveals that her daughter had been involved with drugs and prostitution.
As we've previously reported, here's how Nichols describes herself in a self-penned bio for the Model Mayhem website:
My name is Kara and I'm 19 years old. I've been modeling since February 2012, and although I'm new to it modeling is something I am very passionate about and I take my work seriously. Currently I'm working on building my portfolio so I'm always looking for modeling opportunities in my area. I've done mostly lingerie shoots so far but I'm extremely open minded and I'm willing to work with you on ideas for shoots so contact me if you're interested in working with me!
The bio ends with this postscript, which speaks volumes about the world of modeling:
NOTE TO PHOTOGRAPHERS -- due to my financial situation I am mainly focused on paid work. I am still open for TF shoots but paid work takes priority for now. Please contact me for serious requests only.
As for the details of Nichols' disappearance, they're provided on the Help Find Kara Nichols Facebook page:
Kara Nichols left her home at 6700 block of Mission Road in Colorado Springs bound for Denver on October 9th only to not be seen again. The last call on her cell phone was at 11:45 p.m. October 9, 2012.
More information appears on this missing persons flier: Nichols is said to have traveled to Denver in the company of two women whose names have not yet surfaced. Law enforcers reportedly interviewed one and were on the lookout for the other.
Then, in late November: a photo of Nichols turned up on what's described as a "Las Vegas escort-based website." This news prompted a flurry of reports that Nichols may be in Nevada working as a prostitute, even though it's not exactly a requirement that such sites post the actual photos of those in their employ.
Afterward, Nichols's family shared the following message:
We ask reputable media networks and the public to continue to report the fact Kara is missing and has been since October 9th. There has been no communication with anyone, no login of any social media sites and with no attempt to access her cell -- for us, whatever happened to Kara happened on October 9th and we have no leads to prove Kara is in Vegas or in any position she can reach out for help. We thank investigators for following up on these cruel hoax attempts and addressing the rumors so they can get back to the real investigation of finding our daughter.
Please continue using the flyers and photos on this site -- these are the only one approved by investigators and the family. Any other materials you may think are valid are not. We know someone out there knows where our daughter is and what has happened to her, we ask you to call Detective Porter immediately or e-mail your tip into investigators.
Detective Cliff Porter at (719) 390-5555 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Now, however, Julia Nichols, Kara's mother, is revealing more about her daughter's activities. In an interview with KRDO-TV, she admitted that authorities feared that foul play was a possibility from the beginning "because of her issues with drugs and the link to prostitution."
Continue for more about the continuing search for Kara Nichols. Up to this time, Julia told the station, "we were reluctant to portray our daughter as just a no good person that no one should care about.... She's our daughter. We love her dearly."
Getting attention for the search hasn't been easy -- and last week, the family decided not to afford themselves of a national media opportunity, as detailed on the Help Us Find Kara Nichols page. The post from Julia reads:
Kara Updates: after reconsideration and conversation with producers at the Anderson Cooper show, we decided that the show scheduled for tomorrow was not a good time to discuss Kara's case as tomorrow's show is too light of a discussion compared to where Kara's case has been and is going. Anderson and his staff will be working with Michelle Bart and NWCAVE on future opportunities, if needed, to get the word out about Kara.
The family will follow up with investigators this week and we will continue local media efforts in hopes to find our daughter. Thank you everyone for your continued support.
Now, the Nichols family has decided that telling the whole truth provides the best chance to find Kara. The KRDO interview is linked on the aforementioned Facebook page along with this note: "Kara Nichols sits down with KRDO's Lindsay Watts -- please share the story and let's bring Kara home!"
Look below to see a Fox21 news report about Nichols circa last fall, followed by more photos.
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