Wendy McFarland remembers Ryan Alexander Duke.

He was a student at Irwin County High School where McFarland was a teacher with Tara Grinstead.

"I remember him as a sweet, clean cut, smart kid," she said in an interview with 13WMAZ Friday.

Duke was charged the previous day with Grinstead's disappearance and presumed death 11 years earlier.

"My memory of Ryan was that he was a polite, smart young man," McFarland said. "When his name was given yesterday, I was shocked. ... He is not someone whose name has been across our radar at any point during this investigation and he is not someone who would've come to mind as someone who might have been a suspect."

Many people in the small town are now searching for answers. The arrest of Duke brings about a slew of new questions.

"Who, what, where, when, why?" That's what we all want to know," McFarland said. "I hope this whole process can be moved forward quickly because we need answers. The why is the biggest question. Why did this have to happen?

"The steps we're going through now - why couldn't we just go through it 11 years ago?" she said.

McFarland, director of performing arts at the school, said the arrest of the former student complicates matters at Irwin High.

"Unfortunately, as an educator, this opens a whole other chapter because the suspect, Ryan, was one of our students so that opens up a whole other can of worms for us," McFarland said.

She recalled Duke as a player on the school's tennis team. Duke stated in a quote under a picture of him in the school's yearbook, "I like tennis because it's fun, and the girls wear shot skirts."

She recalls Grinstead as a "magnetic personality."

"She really related to her students," she said. "Nothing mattered more to Tara than her job. She loved teaching. She was the kind of teacher who would not call in if she was sick."