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Family holds out hope 4 years later as new tips surface in missing teen's case

New tips have come in to both police and family
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Posted at 6:42 PM, Oct 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-10 20:44:28-04

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Four years after the disappearance of then 19-year-old Kara Nichols, a family still holds out hope as tips continue to pour in. 

Nichols, who attempted to spark her modeling career at age 19, told her friends she would be traveling from Colorado Springs to Denver for a photo shoot in 2012 on Oct. 9. 

She wouldn't be seen again by her family, or friends. Four years later, her family said they still have hope that their daughter will be found in one way or another. 

Julia Nichols, Kara's mother, attempted to work with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, but has previously expressed concern over the department's handling of her daughter's case.

Nichols said the department appeared to be in "disarray" when her daughter went missing. Indeed, the department's one-time Sheriff and undersheriff both turned themselves in.

Terry Maketa, the one-time sheriff, allegedly had sexual relationships with his subordinates. His undersheriff Paula Presley faced similar charges. 

Under new leadership, with current Sheriff Bill Edler at the helm, things may be on a different path. The department even is investigating new leads.

"The sheriff's office is still investigating the disappearance of Kara Nichols," Jacqueline Kirby, El Paso County Sheriff's Office media relations manager, said. "We are still following up on leads as they come in, with some being as recent as a week and a half ago." 

Those new tips have hit both the family, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office and an advocate of the family, in the National Women's Coalition Against Violence and Exploitation (NWCAVE).

Michelle Bart, president of NWCAVE, said recent tips have led Nichols' family to believe their daughter died years ago. Those tips haven't squandered hope over seeing Nichols' body returned one day. 

"In the last month or so the family has come to believe that it's a great possibility that Kara may have met her demise years ago, soon after she went missing based on recent tips, but they are holding out hope that they can bring their daughter home one way or the other," Bart said. 

Bart says her organization continues to pound the pavement not just for Nichols' case, but for many others. Just this past weekend, the organization held a Missing Persons Gala, where Nichols' story reached a great deal of people. 

The NWCAVE has been involved with this case and the Nichols family since soon after the teen's disappearance. She said there is significance behind the fourth anniversary of her disappearance. 

"It means that it's 1,490 days too long," Bart said. "She's somebody's daughter, somebody's sister, somebody's niece, somebody's friend." 

Bart is hoping there is light at the end of the tunnel, not just for the Nichols' family, but because the case could have greater implications, citing new tips that aren't yet ready to be discussed.

To both Bart and the Nichols family, there is a reason every person not just in Colorado Springs, but in all of Colorado, should care about a missing female, not seen or heard from in four years. 

"There's a dark side to Colorado Springs," Bart said. "We're not saying don't move there, but we're saying when your child goes missing, there should be people who will go and look for them. That was not what happened in Kara's case." 

The Nichols family is reviewing new tips, along with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. Denver7 will continue to follow the Nichols family's story and will post new information when it is available. 

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