The case of

Tara Faye Grinstead

Victim

Tara Faye Grinstead

Victim Race

Caucasian

Victim Date of Birth

1974-11-14

Victim Age

30

Date Reported

2005-10-24

Date of Death

Declared dead in absentia in 2010

Case Status

Closed

Incident Location

Ocilla, Georgia, USA

Body Location

Not found

Date of Conviction

Bo Dukes (March 2019)  Ryan Duke (May 2022)

Body Discovered Date

Not found

Murderer

Ryan Alexander Duke and Bo Dukes

Who was Tara Grinstead?

Tara Grinstead was born on November 14, 1974 in a town located in Pulaski, Georgia. She was a 30-year-old beauty queen who worked as a history teacher at Irwin County School.

Her parents describe her as a very outgoing young woman who was very affectionate with her students. She was a well-liked and very popular school teacher, as the whole town knew and loved her.

Tara won the Miss Tifton beauty pageant in 1999 and participated several times as a contestant in the Miss Georgia pageant. With her prize money she was able to pay her own way through college, where she graduated and received her Master of Education degree.

Although everything seemed to be going very well in her life and she was a beloved teacher, she disappeared under very suspicious conditions without a trace.

She was last seen on October 21, 2005. On that Friday Tara Grinstead attended school and taught her classes as she did every day.

Although she was a history teacher, being a beauty queen, she was always interested in beauty pageants and just that day she attended one such event. She then shared with friends later, being the last time they would see her alive.

On Monday, October 24, 2005, she did not show up at school to teach her history classes and was never seen again.

The Suspicious Disappearance of The Former Beauty Queen

On October 21, 2005, like every day, 30-Year Old Tara Grinstead went to Irwin County High School to teach her history class. She was spotted at the school by her classmates and students.

Tara had been the school’s history teacher since 1998, so she had formed a strong bond with her students, the other teachers and staff who worked there.

Because of her experience as a beauty pageant queen, Tara was also involved in preparing girls to participate in beauty pageants and that same day, she met with some friends to discuss some ideas about Miss Georgia.

Later that day, she shared a barbecue with some friends and then said goodbye and went home. That was the last day she was seen alive.

On Monday, October 24, 2005, Tara did not show up at school to teach her classes, which raised suspicions among her classmates, since Tara was always punctual with her work and very responsible.

The school principal said he was surprised by what had happened, as she did not usually miss her classes.

When they did not hear from her over the weekend and she did not show up for work, her co-workers called the police station. Once officers arrived at Tara’s home, they found her vehicle outside.

Tara was not inside the house, nor was her purse or cell phone; there was no sign of forced entry into the home. She was thus reported missing.

The First Confession

More than 10 years after the disappearance of the ex-beauty queen Tara Grinstead, the truth was really known, after a long time of searches and investigations.

Thanks to the data obtained by the police, after several interrogations, arrests and some undisclosed evidence by the investigation team, it was proved that Tara Grinstead was murdered by Ryan Duke, after she discovered him in her house stealing.

Ryan Duke broke into Tara’s house to rob her home; once she found him inside the house, Ryan strangled her to death. After the murder, he took Tara’s body to an orchard near her home.

Ryan took his friend Bo Dukes to the orchard where the body was to show it to him, and they spent two days burning her remains to conceal the evidence. For this reason, Tara Grinstead’s body was not found, although they found several clues after some investigation.

In view of the fact that no traces of Tara’s body were found, her father requested that be declared legally dead in 2010. The day of the murder is not really known.

Although this was Ryan Duke’s confession during his first interviews, during his trial he recanted and stated that it was Bo who killed her. Bo Dukes said the same thing about Ryan, so it is not really known who the killer was.

The Two Young Men Involved

Ryan Duke attended the school where Tara Grinstead taught history 3 years before her disappearance. According to his first confession, he had drug problems, so he stole money in order to pay his drug dealer. Despite that, he was described by neighbors as introverted and used to write cheesy messages on his Facebook profile.

Bo Dukes was described by some witnesses as a much more aggressive person than Ryan, so the community thinks it might be Bo who killed Tara.

There is not much more information about them, only that they maintained a friendship, that they studied at the same school and that they used to do everything together.

Investigation Details

The investigation into the school history teacher’s disappearance began immediately after she was reported missing and was the subject of interest from her students, co-workers and friends. Everyone began to put up posters with Tara’s face all over town.

The police began a massive search to find Tara. Days after investigations and searches, they decided to question one of Tara’s ex-partners, Marcus Harper.

Tara and Marcus had been in a relationship a year ago and Tara’s sister stated that they had had a very troubled relationship. However, ex-army ranger Marcus Harper did not have a criminal record, nor did they find any evidence of abuse against Tara or anyone else.

Up to that point, the police only had as a piece of evidence a latex glove found with the DNA of a man they had not yet been able to identify, which after lab testing turned out to be that of Ryan Duke.

Four years after Tara’s disappearance, several videos appeared on the internet of someone claiming to be a serial killer, saying that he was the perpetrator of Tara’s murder, among others. Although both the person’s voice and face were distorted in the video, his identity was later verified and all his statements were dismissed as a hoax.

In February 2017, Georgia police stated that after receiving information and finding some leads that they did not mention during the statement, they managed to arrest Ryan Alexander Duke for the ex-beauty queen’s murder.

After investigating Duke’s background, police discovered that Ryan, 3 years prior to Tara’s disappearance, had attended Irwin County High. At the time of his arrest, Duke confessed that he had broken into Tara’s house to steal money for drugs and upon being discovered by her, killed her.

Although the case appeared to be solved, a month after Ryan was arrested, Bo Dukes was also arrested. Bo, who was Duke’s classmate, was charged with collaborating with Ryan to disappear the body and conceal Tara’s death.

Bo Dukes confessed to helping Ryan burn Tara’s body after Ryan drove him to where she was to show it to him. According to Bo, Ryan pressured him to do so and helped him out of loyalty to his friend.

Trial

Bo Dukes’ trial began in March 2019, which was based primarily on Dukes’ June 2016 statements in Wilcox County, during which he said he had no role in the events. He was convicted of lying to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for concealing the death of Tara Grinsted and hindering the arrest of Ryan Duke.

During Ryan Duke’s trial, he recanted his initial confession. Although he had testified in 2017 that he murdered Tara Grinsted, at trial he changed his statement by claiming that he did not kill Tara, that it was Bo who had murdered her and had asked him for help in burning the body.

The jury found that the prosecution side failed to prove beyond a doubt that Ryan broke into Tara’s house and murdered her, so they convicted him of concealing her death.

Verdict

Bo Dukes was sentenced in 2019 to a maximum sentence of 25 years after being found guilty of disrupting Ryan Duke’s arrest, lying to the GBI and concealing the murder of Tara Grinted.

In May 2022, the jury found Ryan Duke not guilty of manslaughter, aggravated assault and felony murder in the Tara Grinted case. He was found guilty only of concealing the death of the school teacher from police.

Duke received a 10-year prison sentence, of which he had already served five years.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who was Tara Grinstead?

Tara Grinstead was a young former beauty queen and history teacher who disappeared in 2005.

What happened to Tara Grinstead?

Tara Grinstead disappeared in October 2005 and was later discovered murdered.

Tara Grinstead’s Body Was Found?

Targa Grinstead’s body was never found. However, some researchers found some bone fragments that matched her DNA.

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