Murder charges to be filed in Punta Gorda cold case

  • 0

CHARLOTTE COUNTY - More than a decade after she was murdered and dumped near Burnt Store Road in Punta Gorda, Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Cameron has announced charges in the death of 19-year-old Tara Sidorovich.

"I am pleased we are here today in the first step to closing this case," said Sheriff Cameron.

Those are words that grieving mother Sharon McPhillips says she has prayed to hear. "I am happy, I am sad, I can be a little angry. It is a lot of emotions. I am just so glad that we have this first step for justice for Tara. She deserves it!"

Authorities say new evidence has given them what they need to bring First Degree Murder charges against 43-year-old Phillip Barr and 39-year-old David McMannis.

McMannis was recently arrested in Maryland.  A nationwide search for Barr is ongoing, says Detective Mike Gandy.  "We have the FBI helping us. We have the U.S. Marshals helping us. Now we have you guys helping us. With all that effort I think we have a pretty good chance at finding them."

The two men had come to the family home on the day the former cheerleader went missing to bid on a septic repair job.  Both have long been suspects in the case. 

Neighbors like Martha Graham say they're glad to hear the news. "Everybody feels that's the party which was involved."

The Sheriff's Office is using their cold case unit to bring justice and hopefully some closure. "I lost a child that I love very much so I don't know if I ever will have complete closure but it will be justice for Tara. I want her to rest in peace."

The sheriff's office says they can not yet reveal how the young woman died and the new information leading to the two suspects.