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Crime News Up and Vanished

Who Was Anthony Vickers To Disappeared Beauty Queen Tara Grinstead — And Why Did She Call The Cops On Him?

Tara Grinstead’s personal life came under scrutiny in the investigation of her disappearance and presumed murder — including her relationship to former student Anthony Vickers.

By Aditi Kini

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.

A history teacher from the small town of Ocilla, Georgia, Tara Grinstead went missing in October of 2005 at the age of 30. Tara’s community was devastated when she disappeared without a trace — and some looked to her romantic history for more possible insight into what may have happened.

She had dated ex-Army ranger Marcus Harper for five and a half years — and rumors about the nature of her relationship with family friend Heath Dykes as well as former students started to build.

One of her former students, Anthony Vickers, claims that he had a one- to two-year relationship with the former beauty queen — but in March of the same year she disappeared, Tara had called the cops on Vickers.

Anthony Vickers is not a suspect in the disappearance and murder of Tara Grinstead. The police have indicted another student of Tara’s — Ryan Duke — on charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, burglary and concealing the death of another. Duke has pleaded not guilty to all charges, according to a Fox affiliate.

In Payne Lindsey’s podcast “Up & Vanished,” Lindsey interviews Vickers, who mentions his cooperation with the police when he was a person of interest in the investigation — he submitted to a DNA swab and his vehicle was searched as well as his father’s.

The relationship Vickers had with Tara was sexual, and he described it as a mix between a fling and something more serious. “It was kind of a little bit of both, but it was so recent that I got out of school that we kind of kept it, just kept it on the low.”

According to CBS's  “Stolen Beauty,” friends said Grinstead had taken Vickers, a “troubled kid,” under her wing, which was just her nature — offering a possible explanation for her spending time with him.

“She talked about the fact that he would call and he would rely on her and she knew it was getting too much for her. I just kept telling her, ‘You know Tara, something’s wrong,’” a friend told CBS.

“[An issue] is the sly, clever innuendo that has been utilized to smear Tara Grinstead, suggesting she was a sleep-around,” says journalist Nancy Grace, talking to Payne Lindsey in the upcoming special “Up and Vanished” on Oxygen, November 18, 7/6c, highlighting how the focus on Tara’s rumored sexual relationships might be used against the prosecution’s case.

 Regardless of the veracity of Anthony Vickers claims, records reflect that Tara Grinstead had called the police on her former student when he allegedly tried to force his way into her house on March 30, 2005.

Explaining that night to Lindsey, Vickers says that he only lived two blocks away and was stopping by because Tara had not answered his calls in a while.

“We got into a little argument there, and I went to leave, and the police station's only a block away,” says Vickers. “So, a neighbor called, and only a block away, I was getting in the car, I was actually driving, pulling out of her driveway. And they stopped and pulled me out of the car.”

The “Up And Vanished” podcast found that the man in the house with Tara that night was Heath Dykes, a police officer from a neighboring town.

Vickers also claimed that he received a phone call from a mystery woman a few weeks after Tara’s disappearance. “It sounded like her squalling on the phone to me dude,” Vickers says in his interview on the podcast. “I mean, I really thought it was her.” The Georgia Bureau Of Investigation looked into it, Vickers says, finding that the call came from a drug dealer’s house.

Payne Lindsey and team deepen their investigation of Tara Grinstead’s disappearance in “Up And Vanished," streaming now on Oxygen.com.