(EL PASO, Colo.) — Police in Colorado investigating the disappearance of 19-year-old aspiring model Kara Nichols are now looking for two women who were last seen with Nichols before she vanished.
El Paso, Colo., County Sheriff Terry Maketa said Tuesday that Nichols, who disappeared after leaving her Colorado Springs home Oct. 9, spent much of that day in the company of a brown-haired woman, who although is not a suspect, is a person of interest in the case.
“Even if this young lady has no information, just the simple fact that she could tell us how they parted, what her parting words were, could be huge,” El Paso County Sheriff’s Detective Cliff Porter said.
Police are also seeking a second woman, also with brown hair, who they said associated with Nichols. They’re not sure about the nature and frequency of their contact but said they believe that someone who has knowledge of the modeling world could have information about Nichols, or the two women.
On Tuesday police released images of one of the women. Porter told ABC News that after the release of the images, the El Paso Sheriff’s Office and other recruited investigators have worked diligently to find Nichols.
“Tuesday’s press conference has resulted in a number of valuable leads, and we are working tirelessly to follow up on these leads. They are labor and manpower intensive, and we have called on other units to assist us,” he said.
When Nichols left her home on Oct. 9, the items that she left behind seemed to indicate that she planned to return shortly, police said. That day she kept in touch with friends and family through social media and her cell phone as she normally would, but later in the day, all contact ended.
“All of a sudden that stopped — no communication since then, especially from a person who was an extrovert, who was always reaching out to people,” Maketa said, which he said makes the disappearance “more concerning.”
Police said they were worried that Nichols’ desire to join the modeling world may have led her down a dangerous path.
“These aspirations, we believe, have caused Kara to fall prey to a subculture of modeling-business fronts that many times involve illicit drugs and prostitution. This subculture could have exploited a teenage girl who may have lacked the life experience to see the inherent risks,” Maketa said.
Porter told ABC News that there was “a strong possibility that [Nichols] was targeted” by an “organized system in place to exploit girls.” He added that as an aspiring model, Nichols was traveling to Denver up to two times a day, looking for work.
“Denver is the preferred area. Girls in Colorado Springs are heading to … Denver for work. It’s a larger city that’s easier to get lost in,” he said.
Nichols had set up a profile on the website modelingmayhem.com, announcing that she was looking for paid work. Several images uploaded to her profile page show her modeling lingerie.
“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,” Nichols said in her bio.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire