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Crime News Up and Vanished

Who Are Ryan Duke And Bo Dukes, Suspects Charged In The Tara Grinstead Case? (And No, They’re Not Related)

Ryan Duke and Bo Dukes were charged in relation to the disappearance and murder of Tara Grinstead, the former beauty queen whose case is being explored by “Up And Vanished.”

By Oxygen Staff

On May 24, 2022, Ryan Duke was acquitted of Tara Grinstead’s 2005 murder, among other charges, but was convicted of concealing the body. He blamed the murder on alleged accomplice Bo Dukes, who was convicted on two counts of making a false statement, hindering the apprehension of a criminal and concealing the death of another following a 2019 trial. Bo Dukes is still facing charges in Grinstead’s murder, though a trial date has not been set, according to CBS affiliate WMAZ.

Tara Grinstead was an 11th-grade history teacher living in Ocilla, Georgia, a small town of about 3,600 residents, when she vanished one night in October of 2005. Twelve years after her disappearance, authorities charged two men in relation to her case: Ryan Duke and Bo Dukes.

Duke and Dukes, now both older than Tara was when she presumably died, have not had their trial dates set. They have both pleaded not guilty to charges related to Tara Grinstead’s alleged murder.

Tara Grinstead’s case went cold, but interest was renewed with CBS’s “48 Hour” special “Stolen Beauty” and the popularity of Payne Lindsey’s “Up and Vanished” podcast, which helped lead to the arrests of Duke and Dukes in 2017.

Here’s everything you need to know about the two 30-something men:

No, they are not related — though they did go to school together

Ryan Duke and Bo Dukes graduated from Irwin County High School three years before Tara disappeared. While they were pictured side-by-side in the annual yearbook of their school, they are not related. Wendy McFarland, a former colleague of Tara’s at the school, remembers Duke as a “polite” tennis player who was a “very bright student,” according to Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Ryan Duke is suspected to have killed Tara Grinstead in a burglary gone wrong — and Bo is suspected helping him dispose of the body

According to the arrest warrant, police suspect that Ryan Duke broke into Tara Grinstead’s house in an attempt to burglarize, and when surprised by Tara coming home from the late-night Saturday barbecue, he “used his hands” to kill her. The warrant states that he then removed her body with the intention to dispose of it.

Bo Dukes’s family owns the pecan orchard where police suspect Tara Grinstead’s body was burned

Bo Dukes’ uncle Randy Hudson owns the pecan orchard in Ben Hill County that authorities searched for three days before his arrest in March 2017. Bo Dukes is suspected of helping dispose of Tara’s body in this orchard.

They may have boasted about their crimes at a party only a month after Tara’s death

Though the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) claimed that Duke “never came up on our radar,” motions filed by Ryan Duke’s public defenders indicate that the GBI might have had information on his and Bo Dukes alleged crime in 2005. Citing the statute of limitations, Duke’s defense submitted court documents indicating that there was a note in the GBI case file that he and Bo Dukes had reportedly confessed to the crime at a party after which the police were tipped. If they sat on that tip, the court documents argue, the prosecution dropped the ball. The court motion reads: “It is undisputed that Irwin County law enforcement knew of these crimes within months of the disappearance of Tara Grinstead.”

Bo Dukes has a criminal history

WXIA-TV, an NBC affiliate, reports that Bo Dukes has a criminal record: he was arrested and convicted of theft in 2013, for stealing $150,000 in goods from the army, for which he served a little over two years of time, and required to attend AA meetings once a week for the first year after release. Bo Dukes was a unit supply specialist for the Army at the time, according to the Department of Justice.

Bo Dukes’ girlfriend turned them in

In February of 2017, Brooke Sheridan, Bo Dukes’ girlfriend at the time, went to the Georgia Bureau Of Investigation with a tip: she said that Bo told her he had helped dispose of Tara’s body after Ryan killed her. "I felt like I was gonna be sick. I didn't know who I was staring at. I didn't know who he was," said Sheridan to CBS’s “48 hours.”

Ryan Duke’s attorneys have filed many motions

Ryan Duke’s defense, who filed motions citing the statute of limitations, first filed 24 motions in August 2018 including one to preclude depicting him in jail clothing and shackles, before he switched attorneys. His new attorneys recently filed more motions — one motion is for a new location, to ensure a fair trial, and another is for funds to hire a private investigator, WALB-10 reports. His hearings for these motions are scheduled for November 26 and 27.

Both Ryan and Bo are pleading not guilty

Ryan Duke, charged with two counts of felony murder and one count each of malice murder, aggravated assault, burglary and concealing the death of another, has pled not guilty. Bo Dukes, charged with concealing a death, tampering with evidence and hindering the apprehension or punishment of a criminal, has also pled not guilty, and posted a $15,000 bond the same day he was arrested and was released.

Learn more about this complex tragedy in “Up and Vanished” on Oxygen.

[Photo: "Up and Vanished" Screengrab]