PUNTA GORDA, Fla.- Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers is asking for the public’s help tracking down a man Charlotte County deputies say was involved with the 2001 murder of 19-year-old Tara Sidarovich. Phillip Barr, 43, faces the charge of first degree murder in Sidarovich’s death.
Earlier today, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of 39-year-old David Ray McMannis, who has been taken into custody in Cumberland, Maryland, on the murder charge. Barr, however, remains on the run.
Barr is no stranger to a life of crime, with a felony record dating back to his teenage years. Back in September 1987, Barr had been committed to the Price Halfway House in Fort Myers as a result of previous criminal acts, including felony burglary. Just over a month later, Barr fled the facility, however was located several months later, and arrested for escape in May 1988. In the years that followed, Barr continued on a path of criminal destruction, with numerous arrests in both Lee and Charlotte Counties for theft, drugs and other related charges. Ironically, he was arrested in Lee County for violating his probation just eight days after Sidarovich went missing. Barr spent nearly six months in state prison in late 2008 – early 2009, and was finally deemed by the state as a career offender in 2009. Now, his life of crime culminates with an arrest warrant for the first degree murder of Tara Sidarovich. Barr also has an outstanding felony warrant out of Lee County, issued two years ago, for violating his probation following an arrest for fleeing and eluding officers.
Sidarovich’s case had been profiled for years by Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers, with television segments and billboards strategically placed near the area where her remains were found, off Burnt Store Road, nearly a year after she went missing. Her skeletal remains were found in a deeply wooded area, nearly a mile off the road. Tara’s family and friends created a memorial in the woods near the site where her remains were found, and a cross remains in place today along the busy highway, as a constant reminder that Tara Sidarovich would never be forgotten. Those who knew her describe Sidarovich as a vibrant young woman, who was planning to study to become a crime scene investigator.
“The arrest made in this cold case is a testament that no crime is unsolvable,” said Trish Routte, Crime Stoppers Coordinator. “Detectives, and certainly family members, never gave up hope that justice would be served on the persons responsible for Tara’s death. We hope that people will remember that no matter how much time passes, there’s always time to do the right thing and help investigators make arrests in these cold cases, and bring much deserved closure to the families.”
McMannis’ charges will now move onto the prosecution level, as investigators still search for Barr. It’s likely that he has left the area, however detectives are willing to go wherever it takes to bring Barr to justice. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Phillip Barr is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS (8477). All callers will remain anonymous and will be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000. Tips may also be made online at www.swflcrimestoppers.org or by texting a tip to CRIMES (274637) Keyword: REWARD.