IRWIN COUNTY, Ga. - Tara Grinstead left her Irwin County home on the morning of Oct. 22, 2005 and was never seen again.
Despite extensive searches in the area — and national attention from several television show hosts — Grinstead was never found.
Police said there was no evidence the 30-year-old was abducted, but they couldn't rule out foul play.
Grinstead’s sister, Anna Gattis, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that her sister would not have left on her own.
Gattis believed her sister left with someone she knew on the night she disappeared. Her house was locked but her car, a pearl white Mitsubishi 3000 GT, was unlocked and in the carport, with $100 in the console and clay on the tires.
“Tara never left her car unlocked, and never drove on dirt roads,” Gattis said.
“There was no struggle in the house. Tara was a singer; that was her talent in pageants,” Gattis said of her sister, thrice crowned Miss Tifton and a contestant in several Miss Georgia pageants. “If someone was removing her, she’d project her voice. And she took self-defense. She’d go out kicking and screaming and fighting.”
Suspect arrested in Grinstead's murder
The case stumped authorities for more than a decade until this past week.
The GBI says someone walked into the sheriff's office with information linking a man named Ryan Alexander Duke to Grinstead's disappearance and murder.
Agents say Duke attended the high school where Grinstead worked and graduated three years prior to her disappearance.
The GBI said Duke was never on their radar.
He was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon and arrested Thursday morning.
Duke appeared in court Thursday afternoon. He is charged with burglary, aggravated assault, murder and concealing a death.
"This just starts another chapter in a very long and painful journey. We ask that you keep us in your prayers," Tara's stepmother, Connie Grinstead, said after the announcement Thursday.
Grinstead's mother, Faye, passed away before the case could ever be solved.
Information from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was used in this report.
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