What did Tara Grinstead do on October 22, 2005, which was the last day anybody saw her alive? Tara’s disappearance case has long rankled the small town of Ocilla, Georgia, and after the success of Payne Lindsey’s “Up and Vanished” podcast, many more people nationwide. The school teacher vanished from a house with no sign of forced entry — and though her remains were never discovered, police believe she was murdered.
The former beauty queen was a fixture in the culture of Ocilla, where she was an 11th-grade history teacher at Irwin County High School and often helped coach girls for pageants after her own success in pageantry. Tara had won the Miss Tifton title three times, and had participated in Miss Georgia.
In reconstructing Tara’s last moments before she was allegedly murdered, Lindsey takes us through what may have been an average day in her life in the new special “Up and Vanished” that will air on Oxygen on Sunday, November 18 at 7/6c.
Here’s the “Up and Vanished” timeline:
March 30, 2005: Anthony Vickers, a former student of Tara’s who claims they had a sexual relationship, is arrested after allegedly causing a disturbance at her house. Vickers is not a suspect in the disappearance or murder of Tara Grinstead.
October 14, 2005: Marcus Harper, who says Tara broke up with him because he wouldn’t commit to marriage, claims that Tara showed up banging on his window, threatening suicide if he dated anyone else, according to his interview with the “Up And Vanished” podcast.
October 22, 2005: Tara spends the day with her friend Dana, and a houseful of girls, helping them prepare for the Miss Sweet Potato Pageant.
5 pm: Tara leaves her house, goes to Fitzgerald Grand Theater to watch the pageant.
7 pm: Leaves pageant, goes to the house of Rhett Roberts, her landlord’s son.
8 pm: Tara goes to a cookout in her neighborhood at Troy Davis’ house, where she receives a phone call — the police have not confirmed with whom she spoke. This is the last call Tara is believed to have received.
11 pm: Troy Davis walks Tara to her car, and she goes home.
October 24, 2005: Grinstead doesn’t show up for work on Monday at Irwin County High School. Her coworkers, worried, call the police. The investigation begins.
A month or so after: Bo Dukes and Ryan Duke, former students of Tara’s, apparently boast at a party of how they disposed of her body, according to motions filed by Ryan Duke’s attorneys.
July 1, 2008: CBS “48 hours” covers “Stolen Beauty,” a feature examining Tara’s disappearance in relation to Jennifer Kesse, who vanished in a similar fashion, renewing interest in the case.
February 2009: A Youtuber lays out an elaborate, interactive game suggesting that he killed Tara — but it turns out to be a hoax.
November 2011: GBI’s Gary Rothwell confirms authorities are still investigating Tara’s death. “This case has never gone cold. Leads come in on a weekly basis. We have several avenues we are pursuing now.”
August 7, 2016: The first podcast episode of “Up and Vanished” premieres, quickly becoming a very popular true crime investigative podcast and reinvigorating interest.
February 2017: Brooke Sheridan, Bo Dukes’ girlfriend, comes forward with a tip. She tells the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that Bo Dukes told her he was involved.
February 23, 2017: Ryan Duke is arrested.
March 3, 2017: Officials end a three-day search of the Hudson Pecan orchard in Ben Hill County, finding nothing.
March 3, 2017: Bo Dukes is arrested and charged with concealing a death, evidence tampering and hindering the apprehension of a criminal in connection. The arrest warrant accuses Dukes of helping dispose of the body. He is related to the owners of the pecan farm where officials just finished looking for Tara’s remains. Dukes posts bond and is released the same day.
April 12, 2017: Ryan Duke is charged with two counts of felony murder and one count each of malice murder, aggravated assault, burglary and concealing the death of another related to Tara’s case. The police contend that after a failed attempt to burglarize Tara’s home, Duke strangled her with his hands, according to a warrant read out at the court hearing.
May 4, 2017: Ryan Duke pleads not guilty, according to a Fox affiliate.
June 19, 2017: Bo Dukes is indicted on charges of attempting to conceal a death, hindering apprehension, and tampering with evidence.
July 10, 2017: Bo Dukes pleads not guilty.
September 2017: Bo Dukes faces more charges — two counts of making false statements, one count of hindering apprehension of a criminal and one count of concealing the death of another, in an indictment accusing him of lying to a GBI official.
March 3, 2018: Georgia’s highest court throws out the gag order.
August 2018: Ryan Duke’s public defender files 24 public motions, including motions to not "be exhibited in jail clothing" and to "preclude public shackling." The motions also cited the statute of limitations, saying that the alleged confession of Ryan Duke and Bo Dukes at a party one month after Tara’s disappearance was noted in the GBI case file.
August 27, 2018: Ryan Duke gets a new attorney, Ashleigh Merchant.
Ryan Duke faces a potential life sentence without parole, according to a motion filed by the state.
Both Ryan Duke and Bo Dukes have plead not guilty.
Learn more about the Tara Grinstead case on Oxygen on November 18, 7/6c, as “Up and Vanished” dives deep into the mystery.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.