COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The family of missing Colorado Springs teen Kara Nichols says a crucial tip in the case was not investigated after it came in twice.
The tipster, a Colorado Springs business owner, tells TARGET 13 that he saw Kara Nichols for weeks after she seemingly vanished from her Colorado Springs home on Oct. 9.
The man contacted Kara's family Friday after he says he didn't get a response to two voicemails he left for El Paso County Sheriff's Office investigators.
The tipster, who didn't want to be named, said he saw 19-year-old Kara many times in late October into early December with a scruffy-looking man who was about six feet tall. He said it was in the area of Fillmore Street and Pennsylvania Avenue around some of the businesses there and in a nearby park.
"She looked like she was scared," he told TARGET 13. "It was like he was making her do things she didn't want to do."
The tipster said he once told the man to leave Kara alone when he saw him push her into a fence. He said he called the sheriff's office and left a message in early December when he recognized Kara in a news story. He said he called again last Monday when he realized Kara was still missing.
"It's extreme frustration and anguish to think my daughter might have been alive and in harms way, way back then, months ago," said Kara's mother, Julia Nichols. "With all this time going by, I think about the suffering and I wonder, 'How many other tips have been ignored?'"
EPCSO Lt. Jeff Kramer told TARGET 13 no one at the sheriff's office got the voicemails.
"When we spoke to the tipster, we were curious as to what phone line that message had been left on so we could do some effort to back track," said Kramer. "Unfortunately, he couldn't remember the phone line it was called into."
The tipster told TARGET 13 he left the message for the lead investigator on Kara's case, Det. Cliff Porter.
Kramer went on to say that Kara's family should have confidence in the sheriff's office and its investigators.
"I assure you, we're working very consistently, very frequently on this case, trying to follow up on any and all leads," Kramer said.
Investigators interviewed the tipster Friday after Kara's mother told investigators about the information he had.
"What's important is we have made contact with that particular tipster and we're following up on the information that was provided," Kramer said.
UPDATE: After this story aired, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office followed up on this tip and confirmed the woman seen by the tipster was not Kara Nichols.
Kara told her roommates she was going to Denver for a modeling job when she left her home on Oct. 9. She left behind her cell phone, I.D. and cash. Kara's mother has confirmed to TARGET 13 that Kara had become involved in drugs and prostitution.
As TARGET 13 first reported, Kara is one of three missing Colorado women who have online modeling profiles.
If you have any information about Kara you can call the sheriffs office at 719-390-5555, case # 12-12983. Email tips to Kara's family at firstname.lastname@example.org.