Who was Tara Grinstead?

Tara Grinstead disappeared in October 2005. (File photo)

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Tara Grinstead disappeared in October 2005. (File photo)

The October 2005 disappearance of south Georgia teacher and beauty queen Tara Faye Grinstead made national headlines. The 30-year-old teacher was reported missing after failing to show up to teach at Irwin County High School.

Born Nov. 14., 1974, Grinstead graduated from Hawkinsville High School in 1993 and attended what was then called Middle Georgia College and earned a master’s degree in history from Valdosta State University. Her older sister said Grinstead planned to become a school principal or teach at the college level.

Pageants were her way of earning money for college. Three times, Grinstead was crowned Miss Tifton and was a contestant in several Miss Georgia pageants, and when her own pageants days were done, she helped younger contestants prepare to compete.

ExploreBo Dukes sentenced to 25 years in Tara Grinstead case

Grinstead began teaching history at Irwin County High School in 1998, renting a small, white house, just a few miles from her classroom. Her neighbors, Myrtle and Joe Portier, had a key to Grinstead’s home, and would check to see if a lamp was on at night — an indication she was home.

When she disappeared, Grinstead was less than a month from her 31st birthday. And she was about six weeks away from finishing her next graduate degree, her sister said, which would have increased her salary by about $10,000 a year.

More than 11 years would pass before investigators arrested two of Grinstead’s former students: Ryan Alexander Duke and Bo Dukes.

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