Even after more than 12 years, it's still not totally clear what happened to beauty queen and high school teacher Tara Grinstead. The beautiful 30-year-old was a caring member of the Ocilla, Georgia community by all accounts, with her boss saying "We're a small community and this has really touched home because it is something you read about happening elsewhere. This is someone with a tremendous, magnetic personality, and the kids just love her." So how could someone so beloved just disappear without a trace in such a small town? It's a mystery that still perplexes people today.
What happened to Tara Grinstead?
The night before going missing in 2005, Tara went to a beauty pageant, where she acted as a coach, and then a barbecue. After that, she was never seen again. Her coworkers contacted police when she didn't show up for work, and officers found her house empty with her cell phone inside, her keys gone, and her unlocked car in the driveway. For the next 12 years, police followed various leads that never panned out.
Who killed Tara Grinstead?
Suddenly, in Feburary 2017, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation revealed that a tip they received lead to the arrest of a 33-year-old man named Ryan Alexander Duke. The man had been a student at the school Tara worked at three years before her murder, though there was no known reason why he would want to hurt her. Court docs claim that he had been burglarizing her home and when she caught him, he strangled her and disposed of her body.
It seemed like case closed, until a second arrest came in March. This time a man named Bo Dukes, a peer of Ryan, was arrested for attempting to conceal a death, hindering apprehension, and tampering with evidence. It turns out that Bo was a friend of the Grinstead family, with Tara's sister Anita Gattis admitting that she knew his family for years. As a matter of fact, “They were some of the most heartbroken people in the area over Tara’s disappearance," she told WSV-TV. Though Bo wasn't charged with murder, Dr. Maurice Godwin, who worked as a PI for Anita on the case, said that he thinks Bo may have actually done the killing, not Ryan.
Were Tara Grinstead's remains ever found?
Shortly after Ryan was arrested, a gag order was placed on law enforcement while police began a three-day search of a nearby pecan farm. They never revealed whether they found Tara's remains, but if they had they probably would have shared that information by now. Hopefully with the new developments in 2017, Tara's family will get some closure soon!