Beauty queen murder: The trial of Tara Grinstead’s alleged killer kicks off after 16 years
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A burglar broke into the home of a former beauty queen and high school teacher more than 16 years ago, killed her and set her body on fire with the help of an accomplice, Georgia prosecutors said in a statement on Monday that has confused investigators for more than a decade.
They were mysteriously missing from their home in Osila, Georgia, on October 22, 2005, a history teacher at Irwin County High School, Greenstad, 30, after helping out at a local competition and attending a barbecue.
A break in the case comes in 2017 when a suggestion was made to a local man, Ryan Duke, who confessed to the murder of Grenstead.
Prosecutor JD Hart told the jury on Monday in Irwin County Courthouse in Georgia, “Evidence will show that Mr. Duke has repeatedly confessed to killing Grenstead with his words, his actions, his DNA and his prints.” .
Georgia beauty queen Tara Grenstead is on trial 17 years after her alleged killer went missing.
He said the panel would look at Duke’s videotaped confession and hear in his own words how he had entered his home and when Grenstad surprised him, he had been severely beaten. He borrowed a truck from his roommate Bow Dukes and dumped his body in a pecan garden, Hart said.
Duke and his close friend, Dukes, who are not related, later visited the garden, took Grenstead’s body to a pine forest at the edge of the farm and “burned” it, prosecutors told judges. Pecan Farm is owned by Dukes’ uncle.
The Duke expressed remorse for killing Grenstead, who paid his way to college by winning numerous beauty contests and competing for the Miss Georgia crown.
“The words are useless but I am burdened with the crime of killing Miss Greenstadt,” he wrote in a handwritten confession. “I don’t think I deserve to be able to breathe freely. I can’t begin to understand the pain I have caused for her family and loved ones.”
After the duke confessed, he showed the authorities where they had set fire to Grenstead and investigators began exhuming his body.
“They’re the Greenstad, the pieces, the pieces, the pieces, the pieces, the pieces, the pieces, the pieces, the pieces, the pieces, the pieces, the pieces, the pieces, the pieces, the pieces, the pieces, the pieces, the pieces, the pieces, the pieces, the pieces, the pieces, the pieces, the pieces. His spine, his teeth, his toes, his toes. This is the remains of Grenstead after Bo Dukes and Ryan Duke were cremated here. “
The smoking gun in the case is a latex glove that was found in front of Grenstead’s home and matched Duke’s DNA and his palm print.
Defense lawyer Ashleigh Merchant said Duke had made false confessions under the influence of drugs and that his close friend, Duke, was the real killer.
It was not only the DNA of Duke and Grenstead on the latex glove, but also the third DNA profile, the attorney said.
He pointed to inconsistencies between the Duke’s confession and the evidence at the scene.
“This lawsuit is about power and impact,” he said. “Those who have it and those who don’t. Ryan Duke doesn’t have it … Bo Duke has both.”
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The merchant alleged that Dukes, who was also arrested in 2017 for helping to burn Grenstead’s body, was politically involved.
The lawyer told the judges that Duke had lied in fear of his friend. “He is terrified of the death of Bo Dukes,” he said. “She says there’s something she needs to be told to protect her family.”
In 2019, Dukes was convicted of aiding and abetting Grenstead’s body and then lying to investigators. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison, after admitting he and Duke burned his body for two days until he “saw that it was all ashes.”
While Duke was on bond in the Greensted case, he was arrested on charges of threatening two women with a gun and raping them. The case is still pending. If convicted of murder, Duke is automatically sentenced to life in prison.
Following the opening of the statement, prosecutors called a series of witnesses, including Greinstead’s 79-year-old father and a beauty contestant who was on the day of the disappearance in preparation for the annual Greentead Sweet Potato Contest.
Hein Dix, Greenstad’s girlfriend and then-married police officer, said he went to her home because he could not communicate with her. They spoke on Saturday and were due to meet on Sunday.
He called her more than a dozen times on Sunday but she did not answer.
Grenstead’s mother, who knew the two were close friends, asked Dykes to contact her. That night, he stopped at his home and left his business card at his door.
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