It took them more than a decade to make this announcement.

During the 11 years, officers clocked countless investigative hours and followed up on numerous leads. They said they never let this case get cold.

Tara Grinstead, 31, was a teacher at Irwin County High School and a local beauty contest winner who went missing without a trace in October 2005.

Before announcing a major break in the case Thursday, law enforcement officials did something that's not typically done during such occasions.

They prayed.

Ocilla police Chief Billy Hancock called on his pastor, Irwin County Commission Chair Joey Whitley, to lead a prayer.

Standing in the spotlight before throngs of local and national media cameras and microphones, more than a dozen GBI and local law enforcement officials lowered their heads in the Inwin County Courthouse and prayed.

It lasted about a minute. Whitley prayed for the community, law enforcement and Grinstead's family and friends.

"We continue to ask God to be with the family of Tara and the many friends she's had in our community," Whitely prayed.

After saying "Amen," GBI officials said something that was 11 years in the making.

They've made an arrest.

Ryan Alexander Duke
Ryan Alexander Duke