Tara Grinstead murder suspect indicted on 6 charges

IRWIN COUNTY, Ga. — A grand jury has indicted a south Georgia man for the murder of a high school teacher who was missing for nearly 12 years.

Tara Grinstead disappeared in 2005. Where she was and what happened to her remained a mystery until last month, when investigators arrested her former student Ryan Duke in connection to Grinstead’s death.

Duke was indicted on six charges Wednesday, including murder and concealing a death, by an Irwin County jury.

Grinstead's sister told Channel 2's Tony Thomas that Wednesday's indictment gives her hope that her sister will finally get justice.

Grinstead disappeared from her Ocilla, Georgia, home in October 2005. She was last seen at a co-worker’s barbecue before she left to go home.

The indictment also included some answers to what happened inside Grinstead's small house in Oscilla 11 and a half years ago.

Irwin County Judge Bill Reinhardt accepted the grand jury's indictments in open court.

[READ: Who is Tara Grinstead?]

Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Jason Shoude provided most of the testimony to the jurors.

After a short discussion, jurors returned six counts against Duke.

The indictment also accused Duke of concealing the death by, "removing Tara Faye Grinstead's body from 300 West Park Street."

Prosecutors allege Duke went to Grinstead's home with the intent of committing a theft and in the process, murdered his former history teacher and then removed her body.

The indictment says Duke, "committed malice murder ... on or about the 23rd day of October, 2005 ...by using his hand to kill Tara Faye Grinstead " and "by entering her home with the intent to commit a theft ... and causing the death of said Tara Faye Grinstead during the commission of the burglary"

Authorities believe Duke buried Grinstead's body in a pecan grove about 15 miles away from her home.


Grinstead's sister sent Thomas a statement Wednesday saying:

"Thankful, relieved, satisfied, anxious, comforted ..... these are just a few of the emotions that I feel at this time. The indictment of Ryan Alexander Duke by the Irwin County grand jury this morning gives me hope; hope that Tara will finally get the justice she deserves. But what my sister deserves more than anything, is to still be alive!!! She should be a breathing human who is living her life to the fullest, making all of her dreams come true, teaching with the passion that she had for her job, caring deeply for her students, being a sister, an aunt and a friend. She should not have been the victim of this heinous crime!! I have some sense of peace that the grand jury felt way after they examined the case presented by the district attorney. This have been an unbelievable journey of struggle and despair for Tara's family over the last 11 plus years. We now have to prepare for the next phase of the judicial process, which could be long and drawn out. I would personally like to thank everyone (whether they knew Tara personally or have only known about her since October of 2005), for the love, support and prayers that have been extended to my husband, Larry, our son Gabe and me as well. We've never felt alone because so many have stood with us as we sought justice for Tara."

Jurors are not allowed to speak about what was said in court.

“The oath that you took upon qualification of your service as grand juror requires that you keep the deliberations of the grand jury secret,” Reinhardt told the jurors.

That secrecy, combined with a gag order means we will likely not hear many details about this case until it's back in court.