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WATCH: Ryan Duke Pre-Trial Hearing in Tara Grinstead Murder


Murder defendant Ryan Duke is set for a several day hearing ahead of his upcoming trial for allegedly murdering teacher Tara Grinstead, 30. Co-defendant Bo Dukes, who claimed to have burned the body, was sentenced in 2019 for interfering in the case, but both men have pointed fingers at each other as the real killer. You can watch in the player above.

Bo Dukes (no relation to Duke) may testify in this hearing. The trial is set to begin May 2.

Grinstead, a history teacher and former beauty queen, did not show up to work at Irwin County High School on Oct. 24, 2005. She was last seen at a cookout two days before that and is believed to have driven home. The case went cold for years until 2016. John McCullough, an Army friend of Bo Dukes, stepped forward to say that Dukes confessed involvement to him in 2006. He said he disregarded this at the time because Dukes was drunk.

In this 2006 account, McCullough remarked about a missing person billboard for Grinstead and Dukes answered that he knew what happened in the case: That his friend murdered Grinstead and that he helped clean up by burning the body on family property.

Dukes initially denied to GBI investigators that this happened, but said in a February 2017 follow-up interview that Ryan Duke confessed to him about strangling Grinstead to death in her bed after breaking into her home. Bo Dukes said he did burn Grinstead’s corpse over the course of two days. He said that when he personally encountered the body, it was “not clothed at all.”

In this account, Ryan Duke never revealed his motive.

Asked why he didn’t tell the truth in the initial 2016 interview, Bo Dukes said, “I guess I didn’t think it was time yet.”

Authorities said they found a latex glove featuring both Ryan Duke’s and Grinstead’s DNA on the glove. Ryan Duke allegedly told investigators that he had broken into Grinstead’s home for drug money, and he attacked her when she caught him, but he walked back that confession, asserting his innocence.

Bo Dukes was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Tara’s stepmother Connie Grinstead ripped into him for staying silent all these years.

“He did nothing,” she said in a victim impact statement in 2019. “He just went on living his life, not caring about the pain he had caused others. He knew she was never coming back. He could have at least told us that, but he didn’t.”

[Screenshot of Ryan Duke via WMAZ]

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