Billy and Connie Grinstead released a statement late Wednesday regarding the murder investigation of their daughter.
It's the family's first statement since a judge last week modified her gag order that forbade family, potential witnesses, attorneys, and investigators from talking about the case.
The family released the following statement to CBS 48 Hours.
We have waited a long time to get to this point. Our focus and our efforts have always been about getting justice for Tara. Our priority now is to protect the integrity of the investigation. For that reason, we have decided not to comment on the case at this time.
We are grateful for the coverage Tara's case has had since she first disappeared in 2005, and we appreciate all the support that has been shown to all of Tara's family and friends during this very difficult time.
We realize the public wants more information, but we do ask for your patience and your understanding at this time as the case moves forward. We will have more to say at a later time.
We do ask that you keep us in your prayers.
Tara Grinstead, an Irwin County high school teacher and local beauty queen went missing in Oct. 2005. Two men, Ryan Duke, 33, and Bo Dukes, 32, - who were Irwin County High classmates - were arrested in February in Grinstead's disappearance and death.
1.) The Disappearance:
- October 2005: Irwin County High School teacher and local beauty queen Tara Grinstead, 31, goes missing. Wendy McFarland, a fellow teacher at Irwin County High was one of the last people to talk to Grinstead at about 10 p.m., Oct. 22. "She had just come in from her pageant and was on her way to the barbecue … then, we never heard from her again." McFarland told 13WMAZ in a 2015 interview.
2.) Tips Come Up Empty:
- The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and local law enforcement have been emphatic that the Grinstead case has never gone cold. GBI officials said they’ve continued to receive and follow-up on tips in the teacher’s disappearance and murder. In 2011, the Irwin County sheriff said he got a tip telling him to search near a bridge on Reedy Creek. He says a dive team and deputies searched for more than four hours and found nothing. In 2015, law enforcement searched a pond in Ben Hill County but said they found nothing.
3.) Ryan Duke, Arrested:
- Feb. 23, 2017, The GBI calls a 3 p.m. news conference. They announce the arrest of Ryan Duke, 33, a former student at Irwin County High, where Grinstead taught. Duke is accused of burglary - breaking into Grinstead's 300 West Park St., Ocilla, Ga. home. Two hours after the GBI’s news conference, Duke appeared before an Irwin County magistrate judge who told the suspect he’s accused of using "his hands in an offensive manner with the intent to cause bodily harm," to Grinstead and "concealing" the beauty pageant winner’s body.
4.) Investigators search pecan farm for Grinstead’s remains as judge issues gag order:
- A Tifton Judicial Circuit Superior Court judge issues a gag order five days after Duke’s arrest preventing law enforcement, or any agencies involved in the case, from speaking about it. The order was issued as investigators searched Ben Hill County, Ga.'s Hudson Pecan farm off Bowen’s Mill Highway. They searched the farm for three days. Officials have not said if Grindstead's remains were found. 13WMAZ-TV, Macon, Ga. challenged the judge's gag order. Portions of the gag order was lifted March 24, 2017 following a court hearing the previous week.
5.) Classmate of accused Grinstead killer also arrested:
- 13WMAZ learned Friday that Bo Dukes – an Inrwin County High School classmate of Ryan Duke – was arrested. Dukes, 32, is charged with concealing death, hindering apprehension or punishment of a criminal, and tampering with evidence. Dukes is the nephew of Randy Hudson, owner of the pecan farm where investigators searched for Grinstead’s remains. Dukes is also the grandson of former Ga. State Rep. Newt Hudson. Less than two hours after he was arrested, Dukes was released on $16,700 bond.
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