How A Podcast Helped Solve The Cold Case Murder Of A Georgia Beauty Queen
Payne Lindsay first found Tara Grinstead’s case in the GBI’s online cold-case files, and has stated that he became obsessed with the details.
OCILLA, GA — In 2016, Payne Lindsay hosted the investigative podcast Up and Vanished, which told the story of missing 30-year-old beauty queen and high school teacher Tara Grinstead.
Six months after the podcast launched, an arrest was made – and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) credited the media with playing a “significant role” in the investigation.
Grinstead disappeared from Ocilla, Georgia, on October 22nd, 2005. After she failed to show up for work, police went to her home. They found the door locked.
Her unlocked car was still in the driveway. Her purse and keys were missing – but a latex glove had been left behind.
Over the years, despite a $100,000 reward and hundreds of hours put in by investigators, the case went cold.
Her body was never found, but in 2010, a probate judge declared Grinstead legally dead.
Over the years, investigators reviewed thousands of leads — including a man who posted videos on YouTube claimed that he was the "Catch Me" serial killer and that Grinstead was one of his victims.
The videos turned out to be an elaborate hoax. Andrew Scott Haley, the man who posted them, was eventually convicted of making false statements and tampering with evidence.
Lindsay first found Grinstead’s case in the GBI’s online cold-case files, and has stated that he became obsessed with the details.
Lindsay also had an advantage: He had access to the investigator who worked the case. He was contacted by Dr. Maurice Godwin, the private investigator hired by Grinstead’s family, on a Websleuths forum.
Lindsay told Entertainment Weekly that he had been “inspired” by the case, and felt that the outcome showed that “It’s not impossible to solve an unsolved case or make a difference as a journalist.”
In February 2017, a grand jury indicted 33-year-old Ryan Duke on the murder charges.
Duke had gone to the same high school as Tara, but graduated three years before she disappeared.
Duke was arrested after police received an anonymous tip. He was indicted on six charges, including burglary, aggravated assault, malice murder, felony murder, and concealing a death.
Duke’s former classmate, Bo Dukes, now 32, was also arrested and charged with concealing a death, hindering apprehension or punishment of a criminal, and tampering with evidence. Dukes is currently out on bail.
According to court documents, both men allegedly confessed their roles in Grinstead's murder to friends in 2005.
Lindsay said that he is continuing to follow various elements of the story, including how people – including Grinstead’s ex-boyfriend, Marcus Harper – have moved on with their lives after being suspected by so many people in the area over the years.
He also hopes to examine the relationship between Bo Dukes and Ryan Duke, and figure out whether anyone else could have known about the crime beforehand – and why it wasn’t solved 12 years ago.
This may be difficult because, according to Lindsay, police have issued a gag order on the case.
He said that he is concerned that “we run the risk of never knowing the whole story and never being able to completely heal and move on.”
A second season of the Up and Vanished podcast, which focuses on the disappearance of single mother Kristal Anne Reisinger, was released in September 2018.
Watch Tara Grinstead: Vanished Without a Trace on Sunday, November 18 at 5/4c on Investigation Discovery!
If you are in search of a missing person, make sure to enter their information into the database of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.