Woman: I was the tipster that cracked Tara Grinstead case

Woman: I was the tipster that cracked Tara Grinstead case

View CaptionHide Caption
The 2005 disapperance of Irwin County teacher Tara Grinstead remained a cold case until February, when a tipster contacted the GBI. (AJC file photo)

The girlfriend of the man accused of helping conceal a south Georgia teacher’s body says she was the one that tipped off the GBI, CBS News reported Thursday.

Tara Grinstead, an Irwin County High School teacher and former beauty queen, was reported missing from her Ocilla home in 2005. For more than 11 years, the case remained unsolved. But in February, a woman named Brooke Sheridan told the GBI her boyfriend, Bo Dukes, had been involved with Grinstead’s disappearance, Sheridan told CBS.

“I felt like I was gonna be sick,” Sheridan said during her interview with “48 Hours. “I didn’t know who I was staring at. I didn’t know who he was.”

The tip led the GBI to one of Grinstead’s former students, Ryan Alexander Duke. He was charged with murder in February. The following week, Dukes was also arrested and charged with concealing Grinstead’s death.

Friends of Tara Grinstead left the courthouse disappointed today after the suspect pleaded not guilty.

On Oct. 23, 2005, Grinstead was killed in her Ocilla home, according to the GBI. Then, Dukes and Duke allegedly took Grinstead’s body to a pecan farm in neighboring Ben Hill County some time during the next five days, according to arrest warrants.

Five days after an arrest in the case, a judge signed a sweeping gag order preventing law enforcement, potential witnesses, family members and others from speaking publicly about the case. Judge Melanie Cross of the Tifton Judicial Circuit later softened the order after it was challenged by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other media outlets.

It was not known Thursday whether Sheridan’s interview with the CBS network violated the gag order. GBI Special Agent J.T. Ricketson said it was under review, but he declined to comment, citing the gag order.

After Sheridan told the GBI what she knew, she encouraged Dukes to confess, CBS reported.

“And I knew that he would probably serve the rest of his life in jail,” Sheridan said. “That family’s peace to me was more important than his freedom.”

Dukes, was also charged with hindering apprehension and tampering with evidence. He posted $15,000 bond and was released from jail the same day he was arrested. Duke, who is not related to Dukes, was indicted by a grand jury in April and remains in the Irwin County jail.

Weather and Traffic