Tara Grinstead vanished without a trace In October 2005. Eleven years later, Ryan Duke, 33, was arrested and charged with her disappearance and murder. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirmed Duke is currently in custody. However, the suspect did not reveal the location of the former beauty queen and history teacher’s remains.
On October 22, 2005, Tara Grinstead attended a beauty pageant at the Grand Theater in Fitzgerald, Georgia. Immediately following the event, the 30-year-old woman joined several friends for a cook-out at the home of a co-worker. According to reports, she left the co-worker’s house at approximately 11:00 p.m. that evening.
— Aungelique Proctor (@aungeliquefox5) February 23, 2017
The following Monday, Tara was scheduled to report to Irwin County High School, where she taught a history class. However, when she did not show up and could not be reached by telephone, her colleagues called 911.
When authorities arrived at Tara Grinstead’s Ocilla home, they did not find any signs of forced entry or a struggle. As reported by Fox 5 News, the officers noted that the missing woman’s front door was locked and her car was sitting in the street in front of her home.
Upon entering the home, authorities found Grinstead’s cell phone. However, her keys and purse were gone. It appeared as though the 30-year-old woman simply vanished into thin air.
Although it did not appear as though Tara Grinstead was taken against her will, authorities had several concerns. In addition to leaving her cell phone behind, police found an envelope full of cash inside Tara’s unlocked car. Grinstead’s friends also noted that her pet cat and dog were left inside the home without sufficient food and water — which she simply would not have done.
This is the man who killed Tara Grinstead. pic.twitter.com/m5cyPlhm0D
— Up and Vanished (@upandvanished) February 23, 2017
As reported by CNN, the former Miss. Georgia contestant recently ended a romantic relationship and had previously reported a former student for stalking. However, the first suspect in Tara Grinstead’s disappearance was Andrew Haley, who dubbed himself the “CatchMeKiller.”
In a series of unsettling videos, Haley claimed responsibility for the brutal deaths of 16 young women. In what seemed like a twisted “game,” the self-proclaimed serial killer challenged authorities to follow various clues to locate the remains of the missing women.
Andrew Haley’s first set of clues focused on the disappearance and supposed murder of Tara Grinstead. As reported by ABC News, GBI special agent Gary Rothwell said he and his colleagues “had to pursue that lead.”
Unfortunately, it was later revealed that the “CatchMeKiller” was simply a disturbed young man who was attempting to “get as many hits as he could on his website.”
As reported by Gainesville Times, Haley was ultimately convicted of tampering with evidence in an unsolved case and lying to police officers. However, the tampering with evidence charge was overturned by the Georgia Supreme Court.
The only clue in Tara Grinstead’s disappearance was a rubber glove, which was found in the woman’s front yard. Although authorities collected DNA from the glove, they were unable to match it with anyone associated with the missing woman.
Despite the fact that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation refused to classify Tara’s disappearance as a “cold case,” they had no solid leads. Thankfully, a 2008 episode of 48 Hours Mystery and a 2016 documentary titled Up and Vanished ensured the community, and the rest of the nation, would not forget about the missing woman.
On February 23, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced the arrest of Ryan Duke for Tara Grinstead’s disappearance and murder. According to reports, Duke’s arrest was prompted by a recent tip and a fresh set of interviews.
Authorities confirmed Ryan Duke attended Irwin County High School, where Tara Grinstead was a teacher. However, he graduated three years prior to her disappearance. Authorities have not divulged whether the former beauty queen knew her alleged killer.
[Featured Image by ValdostaToday.com]