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Tara Grinstead was last seen alive on a seemingly average Saturday on October 22, 2005. The former beauty pageant winner had been helping girls prepare for a beauty pageant in her town of Ocilla, Georgia. When she didn’t show up for work on Monday morning at Irwin County High School, where she taught history, alarms were raised.
An investigation ran cold before media attention and the popularity of the “Up and Vanished” podcast restarted it, and thousands of people across the country began speculating about who might have been involved in the disappearance of the beloved Georgian 30-year-old schoolteacher.
A business card left in the frame of Tara Grinstead’s door was found and investigated by police.
The business card belonged to Heath Dykes, a married police officer of a neighboring town who had reportedly gone to Tara Grinstead’s house on “Sunday night looking for or trying to get her to the door,” Tara’s stepmother Connie told CBS News in their “Stolen Beauty” special.
“And he said he did not get an answer,” explained Connie.
Heath Dykes is not a suspect in this case — after a thorough investigation, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation cleared him from their list of persons of interest.
Dykes had left nearly two dozen voicemails on Tara’s machine the same weekend of her disappearance, according to CBS. And a neighbor told “48 hours” that this police officer was a regular visitor to Tara’s house.
In “Up And Vanished,” the podcast, Payne Lindsey looks into why Heath was contacting Tara: apparently, her mother Faye had called him, a good family friend, to check on Tara who had not been seen in a while by her neighbors. Heath Dykes was a police officer of Perry, about an hour away from Tara’s place in Ocilla.
The podcast also found that Tara had spoken, over the phone, to Heath Dykes at the barbecue she attended the night she disappeared — a night he spent at home with his wife, watching football.
Months before Tara’s disappearance, Anthony Vickers, a former student of Tara’s, was arrested after allegedly arguing with Tara, causing the neighbors to call the cops. Heath Dykes was reportedly at Tara’s house then, according to the “Up & Vanished” timeline.
While a trial date has not been set for Ryan Duke, who has been indicted on charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, burglary and concealing the death of another, he will have two hearings on November 26 and 27, according to local station WLAB News-10. His classmate Bo Dukes (no relation) has been charged with concealing a death, tampering with evidence, and hindering the apprehension or punishment of a criminal.
Learn more about the mystery of Tara Grinstead’s disappearance as Payne Lindsey and team walk you through the case in the upcoming special “Up and Vanished” on Oxygen, Sunday November 18, 7/6c.
[Photo: A billboard in Ocilla, Georgia in October 2006, depicting the Tara Grinstead missing poster. AP Photo/Elliott Minor]
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