Tara Grinstead case: Ryan Duke confessed within 90 seconds, GBI says

Closing arguments are expected Thursday morning
MItchell Posey with the GBI discusses Ryan Duke's confession Wednesday in Irwin County.

Credit: Law & Crime Network

Credit: Law & Crime Network

MItchell Posey with the GBI discusses Ryan Duke's confession Wednesday in Irwin County.

It took Ryan Alexander Duke just 90 seconds to confess to killing Tara Grinstead and burning her body, a GBI inspector testified Wednesday.

“From that point on, it’s just a matter of understanding the details and being able to corroborate the details,” Mitchell Posey, a 25-year veteran of the GBI, said from the witness stand.

Posey was not involved in the case in 2005 when the 30-year-old teacher went missing. Nor was he involved in February 2017, when Duke confessed to killing Grinstead and was charged with murder. But prosecutors called him to the stand as the trial continued in Irwin County to discuss the hours-long confession, which was played for the jury earlier this week.

Duke’s defense attorneys have said it was a false confession and one he was coerced into making. On Tuesday, Duke took the stand and said he lied to GBI Agent Jason Shoudel in 2017.

“Did you murder Tara Grinstead?” defense attorney Evan Gibbs asked Duke on Tuesday.

“I did not,” Duke replied.

But Tuesday’s testimony was nowhere close to what Duke told the GBI before his arrest. In 2017, Duke knew things about Grinstead’s case that previously had not been released, including a call made to her home from a payphone.

“I work for this agency and I didn’t even know it,” Posey said.

Ryan Duke took the stand Tuesday in his murder trial in Irwin County. Duke is accused of killing Tara Grinstead in 2005.

Credit: Law & Crime Network

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Credit: Law & Crime Network

Duke also knew about a latex glove found in Grinstead’s front yard, a glove that investigators later determined contained his DNA, according to his confession. When Shoudel questioned him about what happened to Grinstead, Duke corrected the agent 21 times, Posey said.

“It’s extremely important because it tells me Ryan wants Agent Shoudel to get it right,” Posey said.

In October 2005, Grinstead was reported missing when she failed to show up to teach her Irwin County High School history classes. 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 2017. Duke was charged with her murder after an hours-long interview with the GBI during which he confessed, according to investigators.

A second suspect, Bo Dukes, was also charged in the case. Dukes, who isn’t related to Duke, 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, according to evidence at his trial. In March 2019, Dukes was sentenced to 25 years in prison for concealing Grinstead’s death.

Duke now says it was Dukes that killed Grinstead. On Tuesday, Dukes was called to the witness but refused to testify, invoking his Fifth Amendment rights.

One juror was released Wednesday afternoon after admitting he had fallen asleep during the trial after the evidence concluded.

Closing arguments are expected Thursday morning in the case.