While people vanish all the time, they tend to be found quite quickly in the event of their disappearance. However, sadly, it’s not always quite so fast. For beauty queen Tara Grinstead, from Georgia, the disappearance happened over twelve years ago and it’s only now that something might have come out that might help to locate her.
Growing up with the dream of being a teacher, Tara went to Middle Georgie College to study and to become closer to achieving her dream. By the age of 28, she was working as a successful history teacher at the Irwin County High School, based 55 miles out from her hometown. By 33, she’d earned a Masters’ Degree – despite all of this success, though, she’d worked to help out at beauty pageants.
Moving to the Miss Georgia Pageant, she’d made a major impact on the industry – but was about to find something rather horrifying.
In October 2005, she took part in a beauty pageant on the 22nd of the month, before going to a cookout with friends. On the 24th, she never appeared for work – very unlike her. Co-workers phoned the authorities as it was so out of character, and an investigation took place. However, all that was missing from her house or seemed out of place, was an unlocked car and the fact that her purse and keys were missing from the home. In the yard, though, a latex glove was found.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation were brought in to try and find an answer to this odd situation. Save for the glove and a lamp that was found to be smashed in the bedroom, though, nothing really stood out. Her local community set up the Tara Grinstead Command Centre, and began to do everything they could to try and find where she had gone to.
Websites were managed, phone-lines were manned and information was asked for as an entire town halted to try and find someone who was so revered locally. Over 100 people were interviewed, and the situation became one of the largest missing persons’ case in the history of the entire state. Even with a six-figure reward, however nobody had any pertinent details.
In 2008, the first piece of potentially useful evidence turned up when the latex glove was discovered to have DNA within. In 2009, a horrifying video was found by a man claiming to have killed sixteen women, and people began to connect the dots. While the video was only a hoax, and that the man had nothing to do with Tara or her potential death, it left the community hurt.
Eventually, Tara was declared legally dead by the investigation team. In 2016, though, some new information came to the fore that might be of use came out. Payne Lindsey, a podcaster, started a crime podcast, Up and Vanished, that grew in popularity. He travelled to Ocilla to try and do some digging into this curious, terrifying case.
Six months after the first episode of the podcast being released, the police received a tip-off.
Local lady Brooke Sheridan told investigators that a man called Ryan Duke had told her man, Bo Dukes, that he had killed Tara, and that they worked together to get rid of the body. Arrested on a murder charge, Ryan was found to have matching DNA to that of the glove.
Bo himself is awaiting trial, too, for concealing the murder – and is likely to serve as a lead witness in the trial against Ryan.
This tragic story shows how easy it is for a community to both come together and to conceal information from just one tiny source. May Tara rest in peace.