New charges for man acquitted of killing teacher Tara Grinstead

Ben Hill County grand jury indicts Ryan Duke 2 weeks after trial

Two weeks after being acquitted of murder in the death of a South Georgia teacher, Ryan Duke was indicted on new charges in a neighboring county.

A Ben Hill grand jury on Friday indicted Duke on six charges, including concealing the death of another, hindering the apprehension of a criminal, and two counts each of concealment of facts and tampering with evidence.

On May 20, Duke was convicted of concealing Tara Grinstead’s death but acquitted of her murder after a two-week trial in Irwin County. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for concealing the death.

But while on the stand for that trial, Duke said he helped burn Grinstead’s body on a pecan orchard in Ben Hill County that is owned by a friend’s family.

ExploreRyan Duke gets 10 years for concealing Tara Grinstead’s death

Grinstead, 30, was reported missing in October 2005 when she failed to show up to teach her history classes at Irwin County High School. But by then, investigators believe she was already dead.

Her disappearance launched a massive search and made national headlines, but Grinstead was never found.

Despite an extensive investigation, no arrests were made in the case until February 2017. Duke was charged with her murder after an hours-long interview with the GBI during which he confessed, according to investigators.

During his trial, Duke said his confession was a lie. He claimed he was under the influence of drugs at the time and was scared of his former best friend, Bo Dukes. The jury apparently believed Duke.

Within days of Duke being arrested, Dukes was also charged in the case.

In March 2019, Dukes was sentenced to 25 years in prison for concealing Grinstead’s death, two counts of making false statements, and hindering the apprehension of a suspect. Dukes initially claimed he didn’t know anything about the disappearance and death. Months later, Dukes confessed. He didn’t kill Grinstead but helped dispose of the body, on his uncle’s property, according to evidence at his trial.

After Dukes killed her, according to Duke, the two burned her body in a pecan orchard owned by the Dukes family. Bone fragments were located in the area but were so heavily charred that scientists were unable to extract DNA samples.

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.