In 2005, the disappearance of beloved high-school teacher Tara Grinstead sent shockwaves through the town of Ocilla, Georgia. For twelve years, the cops and private investigators tried to uncover the truth and bring the case to its deserved conclusion, but nothing came of it. Eventually, an anonymous tip came around and two men were arrested in relation to the Grinstead case. A man named Ryan Duke was accused of the crime. Who is he and where is he now? Let’s find out.
Who is Ryan Duke?
Ryan Duke came into the picture of the Grinstead case when he was charged with the murder of Tara Grinstead, twelve years after her disappearance. It turned out that he had completed his education from the Irwin County High School, which is where Grinstead used to work, three years before she went missing, and they might have come in contact there.
Looking at Duke’s life, there isn’t much of criminal history. He was arrested once, for a DUI, in 2010, and was later released on bond. There are reports of him being put under suicide watch during that time, but nothing much serious came out of the whole incident. It was in 2017 when Bo Dukes came out about his involvement in the Grinstead case and pointed the finger at Ryan Duke. Both men came as a surprise to the cops who claimed that they “never came up on the radar.” Bo Dukes told them that he and Ryan had burned Grinstead’s body at the Hudson Pecan Company pecan orchard, and when the area was searched, some human bone fragments were found there.
An interesting turn of events came when an 11-page confession of Ryan Duke was posted on the Up and Vanished podcast discussion page. It wasn’t confirmed where the documents had come from, and the post has since been taken down. It is claimed that in the document, Duke had confessed to killing Grinstead and told everything about what had happened that night. According to it, he broke into Grinstead’s house to steal money to buy drugs but was surprised by her when she suddenly came home. He struck her with his fist and ran away. Later, he used a payphone to see if she would pick up, but when she didn’t, he was convinced that she had died. He, then, went back to her house and moved her body to the pecan orchard using Bo Dukes’ pickup. Later, he not only confided his secret to Bo but also used his help to burn the body.
Where is Ryan Duke Now?
Soon after his arrest, Ryan Duke was indicted on the charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, burglary and concealing the death of another, to all of which, he pleaded not guilty. His lawyers demanded the case be thrown out as the statute of limitations had already passed on it, and asked the trial to be moved to another venue in Irwin County. Both these demands were denied by the court.
For his alibi, Duke claimed that he had been at his mobile home in Fitzgerald the entire night. He was there with his brother, Stephen, and their friends, Bo Dukes and Ben McMahan. Sometime in the night, Bo and Ben left, while he and Stephen were sleeping. However, when it came to corroborating, Stephen testified, in Bo Dukes’ trial, that he couldn’t confirm any of it. McMahan’s account could not be taken as he had passed away before Ryan and Bo were arrested.
A date was set to start Ryan Duke’s trial, but a hitch came when his lawyers filed an emergency appeal to halt it. They wanted the state to fund for paying people like private investigators and expert witnesses for Duke. When the court denied their request, they took it to the Georgia Supreme Court, who said that they did not have jurisdiction over it and the matter was sent back to Judge Reinhardt, who had originally presided over the case.
According to the court, Ryan Duke became ineligible for the state funds when he chose to go with private attorneys rather than a public defender. However, his lawyers, who are working pro-bono, claim that even in that situation he should get his due of the funds to ensure a fair trial. As of now, no date has been set for the trial, and Ryan Duke remains in prison.
Read More: Where is Bo Dukes Now?