A second former student charged in Tara Grinstead homicide case

Bo Dukes was arrested and charged in connection with the death of former Irwin County teacher Tara Grinstead. Photo: WSB-TV

Bo Dukes was arrested and charged in connection with the death of former Irwin County teacher Tara Grinstead. Photo: WSB-TV

The puzzling mystery surrounding the more than decade-old disappearance of popular south Georgia teacher Tara Grinstead took another twist Friday as a second man was arrested and charged in connection with her death, according to arrest warrants.  \

Bo Dukes, 32, allegedly helped Ryan Alexander Duke "conceal and destroy" Grinstead's body in October 2005, authorities said. Bo Dukes is not related to Ryan Duke, who has been charged with Grinstead's murder. But the two were classmates at Irwin County High School, where Grinstead taught history.

By the time Grinstead’s fellow teachers reported she’d failed to show up on a Monday morning, the former beauty pageant winner was already dead, according to investigators. For more than 11 years, there were no signs of Grinstead, and hundreds of interviews and tips left investigators with few clues. Then, an unidentified tipster came forward with the information Grinstead’s family and community had awaited.

On Oct. 23, 2005, Grinstead was killed in her Ocilla home, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. 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.

Ryan Duke had never before been on the GBI’s radar, the special agent in charge of the investigation said. Grinstead’s older sister also didn’t know him. In an interview with Channel 2 Action News, Anita Gattis said she knew Bo Dukes and his family members, though it was hard to imagine his role in her sister’s death.

The GBI secured warrants Thursday against Bo Dukes, who surrendered Friday at the Ben Hill County jail. He was charged with concealing a death, hindering apprehension and tampering with evidence. Bo Dukes waived his first appearance, posted $15,000 bond and was released from jail shortly at 12:30 p.m.

Dozens of Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents searched a pecan farm in a south Georgia town for Tara Grinstead’s remains Tuesday.

Last week, Ryan Duke, 33, was arrested and charged with murder. The GBI declined to say how Grinstead died, but arrest warrants accuse Ryan Duke of burglary and aggravated assault, stating that he “used his hands in an offensive manner” and harmed Grinstead. Ryan Duke then allegedly removed Grinstead’s body from her home, according to a warrant charging him with concealing a death.

Since Tuesday, the GBI has been prohibited from releasing more details on the case. That day, Superior Court Judge Melanie Cross of the Tifton Judicial Circuit signed a gag order prohibiting statements made about the case outside of a courtroom. Members of law enforcement, potential witnesses, court personnel and family members of both Grinstead and her alleged killer are all prohibited from making statements about the case, the order states.

“Because this case is high-profile and has generated extensive media coverage, and because the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial may be prejudiced by extra-judicial statements, the court has considered and weighed the issue and hereby finds that there is a reasonable likelihood the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial by an impartial jury may be prejudiced by extra judicial statements,” Cross wrote in the order.

On Friday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 filed a motion challenging the gag order as being over-broad. Lawyers for the paper and news station are seeking a hearing on the gag order.

Ryan Duke, accused of killing Grinstead, has no known criminal history. But a man with the same name and age as Bo Dukes is currently on supervised release from federal prison after serving 27 months for a conspiracy conviction. Due to the gag order, the GBI could not confirm Bo Dukes is the same person accused of stealing more than $150,000 from the U.S. Army along with his wife.