A Murder Charge 11 Years After Teacher Disappeared

Ryan Duke was arrested Wednesday in connection with Tara Grinstead's murder
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2017 7:53 PM CST

(Newser) – Eleven years after a high-school teacher and former beauty queen went missing in rural Georgia, an arrest has been made, CBS News reports. Ryan Duke, 33, was charged with murder Thursday in connection with the disappearance of Tara Grinstead in October 2005. According to WSB-TV, someone came into the sheriff's office a few days ago with a tip that led to new interviews in the case, which then led to probable cause to arrest Duke. Grinstead, who was 30 when she went missing, was last seen helping Miss Sweet Potato pageant contestants, then going to a cookout with a friend. After she was reported missing two days later, authorities found her house locked up, her pets and car at home, and no signs of foul play.

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Despite interviewing more than 200 people after Grinstead's disappearance, authorities never came up with a suspect or person of interest, 11Alive reports. Investigators say Duke was never even "on our radar." Duke was a student at the high school where Grinstead taught history; he graduated three years before she disappeared. Prosecutors say Duke killed Grinstead with his hands in her home, then removed her body, which has never been found. Officials aren't giving a motive or saying how or if Grinstead and Duke knew each other. Duke is also facing charges for burglary, assault, and concealing a death. Grinstead's family says his arrest has brought them some amount of closure. (A woman's fatal shooting in 2001 continues to perplex: Was it an accident or murder?)

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