When police first investigated Tara’s house, her purse and keys were missing. Payne later discovered that both may have been thrown in a dumpster.
Payne collected soil samples from a body-sized mound underneath the house where Tara was last seen. The Irwin County sheriff’s department conducted a search after discovering Payne was investigating there.
A broken lamp was found propped up against the wall in Tara’s house. Tara would turn this lamp on when she arrived home to let her neighbors know that she had made it home safely.
When leaving the BBQ, Tara told her friend Troy Davis that she was going home to watch a video tape of that afternoon’s beauty pageant, but the tape was never found.
Tara’s front door was locked, with a business card from Heath Dykes jammed in. There was no sign of forced entry.