A Georgia man on trial for helping to dispose of the body of Tara Grinstead, a teacher and former beauty queen who vanished in 2005, said in a taped video confession that he helped burn the woman’s body until “it looked like it was all ash.”
Prosecutors played a recording of the 2017 interview Bo Dukes had with a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent for the jury Wednesday. In it, Dukes said his friend Ryan Duke woke him up one morning in October 2005 to tell him that he had strangled Grinstead after breaking into the high school teacher's home the night before and had taken her body to a pecan orchard.
“I didn’t believe him. He asked me to come down to the pecan orchard and I went with him and we drove to the back and he showed me where the body was,” Dukes said in the recording, according to WXIA-TV. “I freaked out kinda. … Asked him what the hell happened.”
Dukes said on the tape that Duke told him he had used a credit card to break into Grinstead’s home, got into bed with her and then strangled her to death. Dukes said his friend told him he had moved the former beauty queen’s body using Dukes’ white Ford F-150 truck, stopping at a laundromat dumpster to throw away Grinstead’s keys.
Although Dukes said his friend never told him why he killed the woman, investigators believe he broke in to steal money for drugs.
Dukes also told the investigator that he helped Duke move the body deeper into the woods where they lit a fire and kept it burning for two days until “it looked like it was all ash,” the Associated Press reports.
The case would go unsolved for more than decade until an army buddy of Dukes, John McCullough, would call the GBI and report a conversation he had with Dukes, where he allegedly confessed his role in the crime.
“He was like, 'Well man I need to tell you something.' And that’s when I was pretty much shocked,” McCullough testified, according to WCTV.
After receiving the tip, investigators approached Dukes in 2016, but he denied helping to dispose of the body or telling the story to McCullough.
A year later, he’d record the confession played in court. He’d also lead investigators to the site where he said the body had been burned.
Alice Gooding, a GBI forensic anthropological consultant, testified that they were able to find human remains on the property, including a portion of the cranial bone, WALB reports.
Dukes was later charged with concealing Grinstead’s death, hindering the suspect’s arrest and lying to police.
Duke was charged with murder and is expected to begin his trial April 1.
Thursday morning, Bo Dukes’ girlfriend, Brooke Sheridan, took the stand and testified that Dukes began to have panic and anxiety attacks after being interviewed by the GBI in 2016, according to WALB.
After a severe attack, she testified that he had told her that Duke had killed Grinstead and he had helped dispose of the body.
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