Man indicted on murder charge in case of missing teacher
OCILLA, Ga. (AP) — A grand jury on Wednesday charged a man with killing a south Georgia teacher and former beauty queen who vanished nearly 12 years ago, a prosecutor said.
Authorities in February announced the arrest of Ryan Alexander Duke, a former student at the school where Tara Grinstead taught in rural Irwin County before she disappeared in October 2005.
The six-count indictment charges Duke with two counts of felony murder and one count each of malice murder, aggravated assault, burglary and concealing the death of another, Tifton Judicial Circuit District Attorney Paul Bowden said.
John Mobley, a public defender who has represented Duke, didn’t immediately respond to a phone message and email Wednesday afternoon seeking comment on the indictment.
After Grinstead went missing from her home, her disappearance went unexplained for more than a decade until the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced Duke’s arrest.
Duke burglarized the teacher’s home, and used his hands to kill her inside the residence, according to warrants that were read at a court hearing when his arrest was announced. He then removed her body from the home with the intent of concealing her death, the warrants say.
Many questions remain about why she was killed.
Soon after Duke’s arrest, the judge in the case issued a gag order prohibiting attorneys, investigators, potential witnesses and even relatives of the victim and suspects from publicly discussing Grinstead’s slaying. She later modified it to prohibit attorneys, law enforcement and court personnel from disclosing case evidence, any statements made by Duke, expected witness testimony and potential pleas. The order no longer prohibits Grinstead’s family and potential witnesses from speaking.
Another man, Bo Dukes, was charged in March with concealing a death, evidence tampering and hindering the apprehension of a criminal in the case. Bowden said Dukes has not been indicted.
Ocilla is 190 miles south of Atlanta.