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Georgia police arrest suspect in 11-year cold case disappearance

Ryan Alexander Duke, 33, was arraigned on murder charges in Irwin County, Ga.

By Ed Adamczyk

Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Georgia law enforcement officials announced an arrest in connection with the disappearance of teacher Tara Grinstead in 2005.

The 11-year investigation ended Thursday with the arraignment of Ryan Alexander Duke, 33, on murder charges in Irwin County. Duke attended the high school where Grinstead taught.

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Grinstead, 30, disappeared from her Ocilla, Ga., home in October 2005. A former beauty pageant contestant, she was a high school history teacher. She was last seen attending a cookout, and was reported missing when she failed to show up for work two days later. Despite national television attention, billboards posted to seek information and a reward, Grinstead was never found.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation received a tip leading to Duke's arrest, agent J.Y. Ricketson said. An arrest warrant indicates Duke was charged with murder, burglary, aggravated assault in using "his hands in an offensive manner" and concealing a death by removing Grinstead's body from her home.

The GBI did not say how Grinstead died or whether her remains were located. It also did not comment on the relationship between Duke and Grinstead. Duke was a student at the high school where Grinstead was employed, and graduated three years before her disappearance, the GBI said.

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Connie Grinstad, the victim's stepmother, expressed her gratitude to investigators for not abandoning the case.

"We always believed in the GBI and their dedication. We always believed it would be solved. We just didn't know when," she said.

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