This 2005 photo released by, shows Tara Grinstead who disappeared from her Ocilla, Ga., home on Oct. 22, 2005. Her disappearance has led to the posting of $200,000 in rewards and a huge outpouring of support in Ocilla. On Feb. 23, 2017, authorities announced that Ryan Alexander Duke had been charged in her death. (AP Photo/ 
Photo: AP
Photo: AP

Who was Tara Grinstead?

More than 11 years after Tara Grinstead disappeared from the South Georgia town of Ocilla, law enforcement officials on Thursday announced an arrest in the case. They would not say if Grinstead’s body had been recovered.

Who was Tara Grinstead?

Tara was a popular teacher at Irwin County High School in Ocilla and a Hawkinsville native. An experienced beauty pageant contestant she was a three-time Miss Tifton. She was in her eighth year teaching high school and was pursuing a doctoral degree in U.S. History at Valdosta State University. Her older sister said she had ambitions of becoming of school principal or perhaps teaching at the college level.

Where was she last seen?

The day she she disappeared she helped other beauty contestants do their hair and makeup for the Miss Sweet Potato Pageant in nearby Fitzgerald. That night, she attended a cookout and received a call on her cellphone, the last contact police were aware of. A cellphone she always carried was found in her home. Her unlocked car was in the driveway. Her purse and keys were gone.

Did the case attract attention?

Local and national media reported on the disappearance. There was a $200,000 reward and Tara’s face appeared on billboards around the area. Recently, a podcast revisited the case.

Tara Grinstead, a teacher and former beauty queen, disappeared from her home in October 2005.

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