Original Air Date 03.27.2017
In This Episode
Payne and Donald visit Tara’s house, meeting the current tenant and examining the yard where the latex glove was found. Then the Irwin County High School principal allows them to examine old yearbooks with photos of Tara, Ryan, and Bo. Payne learns more about Ryan Duke’s past legal troubles, his possible mental state, and his relationship with Bo Dukes. Forensic psychologist discusses the trope of quiet guys being crazy criminals, and Payne and Dusty Vassey discuss their emotions after the arrests. Payne addresses when exactly law enforcement was tipped to the pecan grove as a crime scene, and he examines a cryptic Facebook message from Ryan.
People in this Episode
Journalist, Ocilla Star
Ryan Alexander Duke
Chief, Ocilla Police Dept.
Evidence in this Episode
Payne Lindsey: Oh man it's gonna be weird walking in her yard. Yeah.
Mason Lindsey: Standing right there, right? Is that it?
Payne Lindsey: Yeah.
Donald Albright: So that's where her car was parked, in the carport?
Payne Lindsey: Yeah. I'm just gonna walk up there and ...
Donald Albright: Where's the front - oh okay, there's the front door and there's that side door.
Mason Lindsey: Oh this is weird. This is really weird.
Donald Albright: Hope nobody's up.
Payne Lindsey: Yeah.
Old Woman: Come in.
Intro.: Ten years ago today marked the last time any reported seeing or talking with Tara Grinstead.
Officially, people are calling this a missing person's case.
GBI officials say investigators [inaudible 00:02:08]
$80,000 reward is being offered [inaudible 00:02:11]
Where is Tara Grinstead?
Payne Lindsey: From Tenderfoot TV in Atlanta, this is Up and Vanished: The Investigation of Tara Grinstead. I'm your host, Payne Lindsey.
While I was in Ocilla, I drove by Tara's house. I've driven by it before, but this time I decided to knock on the door. I had no idea what I thought would happen, but it seemed like something I should do, at least once.
(Knocking on door)
Old Woman: Come in.
Payne Lindsey: I wasn't expecting that.
Hey. I'm Payne, I'm doing a documentary on Tara Grinstead. I have this podcast, I don't know if you've heard of it. It's actually kind of weird, me being in here. Just because I've talked about it so much, I haven't seen the inside of the house yet.
Inside there was an older black lady sitting on a couch watching TV in complete darkness. Turns out Tara's house was being lived in again. The woman was really nice, and didn't mind me looking around for a minute. My friend Donald was a little more hesitant.
Payne Lindsey: She's actually being really nice to us.
And was sort of lurking in the doorway, halfway hiding.
Donald Albright: How are you?
Payne Lindsey: Yeah and when she was like, "Come in!" I was like, "Are you sure?"
We thanked her for her time, and then went out to the front yard.
Old Woman: All right.
Payne Lindsey: Take care.
From Ocilla police chief's Billy Hancock's description, I knew precisely where that latex glove had been found in her yard.
So the knee would have been in pine straw right here.
Donald Albright: In between the houses but still ... why are you going this way?
Payne Lindsey: So we analyzed the area ourselves.
I don't know.
The glove's placement just didn't make any sense. It seemed to be heading away from where any perpetrator would have parked their car. Almost going straight into the neighbor’s yard. If someone dropped it in a rush or an accident, this just didn't seem to be the likely place.
How's a glove accidentally get there? Yeah I'll be honest with you, walking up to the door, that was actually the first time I was nervous this whole podcast, that was the first time I was nervous.
Donald Albright: It's just weird.
Payne Lindsey: We'd been to Tara's house. Now it only seemed right to visit the second place in Ocilla most closely tied to her.
The Irwin County High School. Being at the high school was surreal. We were greeted by the school's principal.
Principal Gary Billins: How you doing?
Payne Lindsey: Hey man. How you doing?
Principal Gary Billins: Good. Gary Billins.
Donald: Hi, nice to meet you. Donald
Principal Gary Billins: Hey nice to meet you, Donald.
Payne Lindsey: Payne.
Donald: This is Payne, this is Mason.
I was trying to get in the library to try to look at some archived yearbooks.
Payne Lindsey: Yearbook archives.
Donald Albright: Yeah, so ...
Principal Gary Billins: What year?
Payne Lindsey: And we hoped to obtain some yearbooks. Of course it had been years since Tara worked here, but it was still eerie being there.
Principal Gary Billins: You all must be special man, 'cause it's Friday we're trying to get out of here.
Payne Lindsey: Oh man I forgot it is Friday, man. My bad.
He was a friendly guy. He hadn't known Tara personally, because he had started just after her disappearance, but he let us take some old yearbooks for investigative purposes.
Donald Albright: Can we keep these? I realize you guys got [crosstalk]
Principal Gary Billins: Go ahead, take them.
Payne Lindsey: In our hands were pictures of Tara as a teacher, and pictures of those responsible for her death, bound into the same keepsake book.
Shortly after arrests were made in Tara's case, an Ocilla judge instituted a gag order, an order that states the case may not be discussed in public. Gag orders exist to maintain the integrity of an investigation, and to ensure a fair trial.
Ryan Duke's attorney filed a gag order, preventing law enforcement from speaking further about the case.
Payne Lindsey: But several media outlets filed a lawsuit opposing it.
Media Rep.: Our lawyers have filed a motion a lawsuit against the gag order. It should be in the court's hand mid-day today.
Misc TV Report: Lawyers representing 11 Alive and various other media outlets arguing Thursday in an Irwin County courtroom. Their case? That a gag order in the Tara Grinstead death investigation prevents transparency and unjustly silences details in perhaps the biggest case this county has ever seen.
Philip Holloway: The media outlets have challenged the gag order, the gag order is very broad it covers many people who are potential witnesses. It covers people who might have known Tara, for example, and we really don't know at this point who could be a witness. So it's like a judge preemptively telling somebody, "You can't use your right to free speech." The Constitution frowns on that. Gag orders have to balance on the one hand the needs of the defendant to get a fair trial and an impartial jury, but it also to protect the rights under the first amendment of the public to discuss the case, but this order says to them before they're even on a witness list, "Hey you can't talk about it." And the media has a first amendment right, it is a right to a free press. They're absolutely needs to be clarity, and I think that if anything changes it will be some clarification of what the order meant, maybe a new order that's not quite so broad.
Misc TV Report: The judge now has the unenviable task of deciding a balance between the first and sixth amendment. Does the public right to know and talk about this case jeopardize the defendant's right to a fair trial?
Unknown Citizen: I think the person would have a right to speak. This is a free country. And I don't think any judge should have a right to sit up there and say, "Keep your mouth closed, you can't talk."
Payne Lindsey: Ryan Duke's defense attorney claimed that the extensive media coverage was posing a threat to his client's right to a fair trial. He even specifically mentioned the podcast as an example to the judge in the courtroom.
Ryan Duke’s Attorney: There's been a podcast, there's been international, national, local coverage. Some of it should be included ...
Payne Lindsey: He also presented a huge printout of 79 examples of this unjust media coverage, many of which were quotes from news articles. And even things that random people said on the Up and Vanished discussion board.
Ryan Duke’s Attorney: Exhibits one through 79, this is just an example of the media coverage that we’ve been able to locate
Payne Lindsey: It was like copying and pasting mean YouTube comments made by anonymous people. I mean, it's 2017. You can't control what people say on the internet.
Ryan Duke’s Attorney: These newspaper articles.
Judge Cross: All right I appreciate everybody being here today, and I have not had a chance to look at all the exhibits. I will take some time to do that of course, but hopefully within the next week you'll have an order.
Misc TV Report.: The judge says it'll take about a week or so for her to review new evidence in this case and come to a decision. Meanwhile the media attorneys are taking that as an optimistic sign that perhaps that gag order was filed without enough evidence in the first place.
Payne Lindsey: After the hearing, I hired my own attorney, and submitted a formal letter to Judge Cross expressing my concerns about this gag order. People have been waiting for details in this case for over 10 years. Why the silence now? After a full week, the Judge finally made a ruling on this, and for the most part, it was in our favor.
Misc TV Report.: We just received word that the Irwin County judge has narrowed parts of the gag order in this case. The court will allow documents to be unsealed. It will also allow witnesses and relatives to speak to the media about the case. This also permits potential witnesses as well to talk.
Philip Holloway: Basically I think this modified order was the right thing to do and I really thing the judge got it right. She referenced that gag orders are not necessarily disallowed but they must be narrowly drawn. So what she did is she went back narrowly drew this so that it only applies to the parties in the case, people that work for the lawyers offices, current and former members of law enforcement who may have knowledge of the case, specifically the judge says that the order does not apply to members of the public, and does not apply to the media. So this is really a victory for all media, including the podcast. In fact, Payne Lindsey, the host of Up and Vanished, devoted 12 episodes to Grinstead's disappearance. The judge specifically references that in this order.
One thing that stands out to me that's very interesting, is that, and this didn't really have to go into the order in my opinion, she says that it's ordered, among other things, that the people described like the police, etc. cannot mention the possibility of a plea of guilty to the offense charged. That stood out at me like, wow, wonder why that's in there? Because she already said that any proceedings that may happen in the future in court would not be closed to the public, so that was a great victory. But referencing the possibility of a guilty plea to me seemed like it was maybe just a little bit too much information. I don't know. It seems that that was just something that maybe didn't need to be in there, because it could have been covered with more general language.
But as I've said all along, I don't expect there will be a trial. But the thing to remember is that even though the courtroom is now not closed to the public, and court documents are now not going to be sealed unless there's some specific reason in the future for sealing them, it doesn't mean that a court hearing, such as a plea hearing, or a motion hearing, has to go onto any kind of public calendar, it doesn't mean that there has to be notice sent out to the media NAD the public beforehand. So hypothetically, if there is some resolution that's reached to this case, it really would be a very simple thing to schedule it, get it put together very quickly, get him into court, and enter a plea. And of course the defense can still stipulate to a factual basis without actually going through any of the details of whatever offense may ultimately be charged should he plead to one.
Of course there's no way to hide a trial if it does go to trial. There's really no way to hide that, and of course the public would have the right to be there and to see what happens. But in the event of a guilty plea, it really could be something that could be put together and scheduled very quickly and very quietly without notice to anybody. Just because it's an open court doesn't mean there's necessarily going to be people there to watch it. We schedule pleas and other routine court appearances on moment's notice all the time. It's just simply a matter of calling the judge's office and saying, "Hey can we do this tomorrow morning or this afternoon or whenever?" It's very routine, very simple. And if the parties were to want to do this secretly or mostly secretly, it would be an easy thing to accomplish.
But on balance I think the judge got it right. I think that this order is what it should be. It allows the public to talk about the case. It allows the media to talk about the case. It lets the family talk about the case. And it doesn't stand in the way of the podcast continuing on to report what we learn about what happened to Tara. It doesn't stop the podcast from talking to people. It doesn't stop anybody from talking to anybody except it only limits what law enforcement and the parties to the case can say about it.
One more interesting thing that this order does is it brings into the class of affected people, the people that are bound by the gag order, it brings Bo Duke's and his lawyer, into the coverage of who can't talk. Now he's not a party to this particular case where it's the state of Georgia vs. Ryan Duke. But he is specifically referenced in this order, and that is a little bit unusual. But under the circumstances of this case, not unexpected and I think it's something that everybody, the District Attorney, and the defense, and probably Bo Duke's, wanted in the order. It gives them some cover, so that they can't answer questions or can't say things publicly.
Other than that, I like it. I think it's a good order. Some interesting tid bits in it, but it's the right thing to do.
Payne Lindsey: One thing I've been desperately trying to figure out is what on earth Ryan Duke was doing at Tara's house that night. A burglary? I'm just not buying it.
I had talked to several of Ryan's former classmates and friends. But I still felt like I knew absolutely nothing about it. I know that unlike his buddy Bo Dukes, Ryan did not have a criminal record. But what about any other run-ins with the law? Over the course of 12 years, did he have any at all?
Well, turns out, he did.
Rob: On the night February 20th, 2010, Ocilla pulled over a vehicle on the Tifton Highway. The driver was Ryan Duke. He was speeding and driving without a license. When the officer proceeded to talk to Duke, he noted his slurred speech and the smell of alcohol on his breath.
Duke denied drinking, but failed the breathalyzer test. He was subsequently charged with a DUI, but was released on bond to his mother. At 2:35 AM, approximately three hours after the DUI incident, Ryan Duke's mother called the Ocilla police with an unusual request. She insisted that she wanted to come off the bond for Mr. Duke and have the police pick up her son immediately. Deputies picked up Duke and returned him to jail.
The reason for Duke's mother's change of heart is unknown. The family declined to comment. Other than Tara Grinstead's murder, this is Duke's only other arrest.
Payne Lindsey: In the days after Ryan Duke's arrest, and for the record, before the gag order was in place, I got a call from someone on the inside. Someone who had interactions with Ryan Duke while he was in jail. This person's identity will remain anonymous, and their voice has been disguised.
Former inmate: He is currently on a suicide watch. And the way that we do a suicide watch is strip buck naked and they have nothing but just suicide blanket and a suicide gown that he has on. I was just kinda playing dumb and I asked him, I said, "What are you in here for?" What he told me was that he did something bad a long time ago, and that it was a long story. He was in our medical unit and he's now transferred to our special housing unit. He is sitting there on a one on one watch. Somebody is watching him 24 hours a day.
When he came in for a DUI, he was placed on suicide watch then. He had suicidal thoughts. There's three levels to the suicide watch. Level one and level two, you're still naked. You just have nothing but the suicide blanket and the suicide gown, and level three you get your clothes and your property but you don't have any property yet at the time. You don't have any of that, and usually nothing but like a finger food and stuff like that.
Payne Lindsey: Ryan Duke was currently on suicide watch. Not only in 2017, but also back in 2010 when he was arrested for his DUI. I found that really strange. Was he paranoid of getting caught the first time? Surely they fingerprinted him when he was arrested. Was he scared of a match?
In an attempt to gain some more insight on Ryan, and just who he was, I spoke to another former friend of his.
Former Friend of Ryan: Ryan, the last time I saw him was in '07. I had just moved to Tifton, started working UPS. He called me out of the blue one day, 'cause I had lost contact with him sometime around March and May of '06, I kinda lost contact with him. He was one of those where if he didn't want to talk to you you wasn’t going to bother kind of thing. The next time I spoke to him was around probably December or January of '06, probably 'cause it was just when I moved back in Statesboro. I got up with him and he was living with Bo at this time in Fitzgerald. I kinda started hanging out with him 'cause I was working in Fitzgerald but he was still very very close proximity to my parents' house. So I would go over and hang out with him and Bo and it was a little different. Bo was a lot more withdrawn than Ryan was, but like I said I was more close to Ryan than Bo anyway.
Whenever we all hung out together it was me, Jason, Ryan, and Bo. And then around sometime in '04, Jason and Ryan had some type of disagreement. I'm not sure really what happened between the two of them, but they had a falling out. But like I said Ryan never really had a whole lot of money, never really had a whole close knit family life or didn't really have anything I guess going his way in a sense. But he was a real good guy, like he was more than willing to do anything for me. Like I said when I couldn't drive he would go thirty minutes one way just so we could hang out and play tennis. But it just struck me as odd that Ryan would have been what was potentially two to three blocks from where Bo's mom lived without having a car and Bo didn't know that he was there? And then all of a sudden, Ryan makes it official and goes, "Hey Bo, by the way I need your help." Like that seemed really odd to me, and it just didn't sit well.
Payne Lindsey: See the weird part to me was that, how in the world does Ryan end up over at Tara's house?
Former Friend of Ryan: I mean, I guess was it with Bo's mom being so close and there was a couple other friends that lived there at the time. Somewhere around in the area there was like three girls that I know, and they were around the same age. And there's a lot of people around his age that graduated with him that was within probably between a half mile to a mile radius to where Bo's mom live.
Payne Lindsey: Where did Bo's mom live?
Former Friend of Ryan: From the courthouse, I mean it's probably a five to eight minute walk. I mean it's not far.
Payne Lindsey: That's like right next to Tara's house.
Former Friend of Ryan: Yeah, and that's what I'm saying, that's what struck me as odd was that Ryan would be so close to Bo's mom's house without having transportation and Bo not know about it beforehand. Because Ryan was in Fletcher Lake, and as far as I know at the time, as far as I know, but he was either in Fitzgerald or with his mom at the time. He didn't have a house of his own when that was going on. But for him to be that close to Bo's house and Bo not know, it's just didn't sit well with me that that's kinda the details that come out about it. And I don't know, I've never heard of Tara before this happened, or didn't know anything about her except like what's been brought out in the news and speculation and rumors.
I feel like with her house being so close to Bo's house and Bo being the way that he was. Like I say he had the money to kind of finance things and then wanted people to go along with the party. So I felt like they may have been partying together, something happened, Bo got aggressive and then freaked out. Ryan was there with him, and I don't ... Ryan was the one to back away from a fight with his friends. So for his threat to be that he used his bare hands to kill somebody, like I still don't trust that as truth. Just like I say, me being this close though I'm still waiting for something else to come out, that something else happened or that other people are involved.
So my mind immediately, I guess subjectively puts him, or I guess objectively puts him right into the scene as being innocent. And being there to help someone 'cause he was that friend that would more or less take a bullet for you kind of thing. And I feel like Bo maybe had freaked out after whatever had happened happened, and didn't know what to do and then commit a crime. Well you're here, they're gonna blame you just as much as me. What do we do? And then I guess they did whatever they did and it was over with.
Payne Lindsey: Yeah man, that's what everyone's pretty much said. They're just so surprised that it's Ryan being charged with the murder and Bo as an accessory after the fact.
Former Friend of Ryan: Yes.
Payne Lindsey: And that is just so puzzling to everybody, and I'm trying to figure out if that's because there was a side of Ryan that nobody knew that was capable of doing this? Or if he wasn't the person who did this?
Former Friend of Ryan: If Ryan did have or does have that side, the only other person that has seen it will never be able to tell anybody. When he moved to Fitzgerald me and him got pretty close. The whole time I was with him, I never ... he never even got violent. We were almost in like a group fight because Fitzgerald and Ocilla ... we kind of fight with each other but if anybody else from out of town comes in we kind of stick together as a group. Well there was an incident where I thought we were about to get in a fight with a group of guys and Ryan ... we turned around and he wasn't even there. Like he wasn't, "Oh hey, yeah let's do it." Or, "hey I got your back." Like he just, I've never saw him in a physical altercation whatsoever. And when we asked him about it, like, "Dude where'd you go? We thought we were about to have to throw down and we turned around and you wasn't there." He was like, "Oh I went to talk to so-and-so, I didn't even know anything was going on."
So for that whole thing to come out that he did it with his bare hands and was that brutal, and that's on my life. I was sick to my stomach that night, I don't see it happening. Like I can't believe it.
Payne Lindsey: How was Ryan with girls?
Former Friend of Ryan: A hopeless romantic, I guess? He wouldn't get with a girl just to hook up with her, like he wanted a girl that would want to sit at home and watch a movie on a Friday and cook and hang out. And you know just, Hey I listened to this song by whatever current band he's listening to and he would make a little mix CD for her kinda thing. It was never just straight come out and like, "Oh I have feelings for you, I like you, or let's go on a date." It was more of he would kinda make you feel sorry for him in a way, but it was kinda, "poor me, I gotta a lot of things going on." But that really wasn't him.
'Cause like I said, as a friend I knew him, but his way with girls? We're talking about in high school where everything is completely different, but it's so easy to be like, "Oh hey poor me, no girls like me" and things like that. And of course that woman catches on where it's like, "Oh hey well you know you're a cute guy. You've got a lot of things going for you," and that's kind of how he roped them in. I mean I hate to say that but I mean, that's what it was. And then once they started dating then he was kind of all about him. And, "Hey, I love you. Let's hang out and do things." From what I know of Ryan I can't believe that he did all this and orchestrated it himself.
'Cause as good a guy as he was, he's not that smart of a person to one, commit the crime. Two, to cover it up. And three, convince somebody to be an accessory with him after the fact. That doesn't fit Ryan at all. He's not manipulative. He's very very straightforward. There's no hidden doors with Ryan, it's everything's kind of out in the open. But like I say, right now if you told me it was 100% he did it, we have everything we have to convict him, so you tell me what your take on it is. I believe that, I mean obviously he was there. But he didn't break in because there's whatever there was no sign of forced entry or whatever, maybe he got his feelings hurt. She rejected his advances once they were...maybe they were having sex or about to have sex and stuff happened and she rejected him at that point. And made him sad.
Like I say, he's never been a physical person. Like ever. So for him to just up and snap without any confrontation is, like I still can't fathom that.
Payne Lindsey: He, like everyone else, didn't seem to think that Ryan was capable of this either. Did Ryan just snap?
Payne Lindsey: I called upon a forensic psychologist named Doug Miller who has years of experience dealing with all types of alleged murderers. Maybe he had some insight.
So what is it about the quiet guys? Maybe it's just what I hear in the news and what you see on TV, but there's a stigma with that where it's the quiet guy who you never expected is always the one. Is that the case for you? Or is that just sort of a myth?
Doug Miller: Well I think it may be a myth. I think the difference is when it's some really aggressive loudmouth, obnoxious, violent person it's not so surprising. But when it's a quiet, sweet person, or someone's who's just sort of unassuming or not really standing out, it's just more surprising, and I think that accounts for it. Now that said, if there is a kind of psychotic process, or a psychopathology that pulls the person outside of society, and what can make someone a loner is that they have very strange thoughts and people keep their distance, they pull back.
Payne Lindsey: In our last episode, in a call with one of Ryan Duke's friends, he told me about a strange phone call he got from him one time. Where he basically confessed about hooking up with some girl. He told me it struck him as odd. And I thought the same thing. So I asked Doug about it.
Doug Miller: Hearing that as a forensic psychologist, it could be relevant. It could be relevant in the sense that, it's not gonna tell us much about his frame of mind at the time of the crime, though if he's evidencing some very bizarre behavior after the crime, and you can show similar types, or the same type of behavior before the crime, and the really the important piece is showing it around the time of the crime, to show that maybe he was in some kind of altered state one way or another.
You don't want to put the cart before the horse, cause before affect. Now we are assuming that Ryan did commit the crime, or was at least very heavily involved. How that affected him and his behavior is like, I'm aware of the fact that he reportedly has had a drinking problem for many years, so that conversation with that friend that you just brought up, is it a drunk guy calling someone and just babbling about random stuff that may have bothered him a little bit?
Payne Lindsey: Totally could be, yeah.
Doug Miller: Or, was there some guilt that this guy has been carrying and he's just trying to relieve himself in this kind of symbolic way by talking about this other thing that he felt bad about. Whether that comes into play or not in the trial is unclear. But just to kind of show you the kind of thinking that can go into that kind of piece of data. What I was alluding to when I gave that example as representing is what you might call symbolic expiation. It's a symbolic act that ... it's symbolic in the fact that it maybe related to the murder. It's a brief relief of a confession that's an expiation, a release of guilt, but it's only symbolic because it's actually about something else that maybe another person might not have carried had they not had the original, the major source of the guilt. Now you can't talk about it because you're gonna get in trouble.
If it wasn't just random, basically. Like sure they knew each other, but then the question is how much did they know each other. 'Cause you ask what causes ...
Payne Lindsey: That's the magic question.
Doug Miller: What causes this type of behavior? And of course most people go, "Well, was there something going on in terms of an intimate relationship?" And that can be an uncomfortable thing to bring up for the victim's family or just in general. And people are well aware of crimes of passion and when emotion gets involved, and I've worked on other capital cases where a husband has killed a wife, and the husband was actually very dependent on the wife. He had a low IQ and she took care of business, and it was an emotional support, but the passion took over and there's ultimately a really grisly murder.
So these are the questions but they're only questions and I haven't heard anything yet, and I don't think you have yet that they had any type of real personal involvement. And I just want to say I really do appreciate your sophistication and sensitivity around all the kinds of tough issues that this all brings up for everyone. For some people, and sometimes for everyone. I appreciate that.
So there's the relationship thing, and that's kind of an easy one, right? That's simple. We got it, okay. This is what happened.
Payne Lindsey: That makes more sense. That's okay, yes, but we can't assume that.
Doug Miller: Right, okay but let me just take another angle on it. And again, this is total conjecture. But most of us have had like a crush on a teacher at some point in our schooling.
Payne Lindsey: Sure, yeah.
Doug Miller: And it's conceivable that Ryan may have held some kind of feelings that he never communicated to Tara and carried that with him. And then, if drugs were involved in the movement of a man's mind and a man's heart while in the drugs, that thing could have become even bigger and grown over time. And he may have gone to her in some passionate state as like a person that actually had a relationship with someone had, and she responded negatively, or confusedly at least, if this is the scenario.
Payne Lindsey: Sure.
Doug Miller: And maybe, in his, if he was in a deranged state, that's how the whole thing went down. And that's a possibility, and maybe the psychologists that evaluate him. I'm pretty sure this will be a case that gets evaluated by a psychologist.
Payne Lindsey: I'm sure, yeah.
Doug Miller: And may find out that. Or something else. The other thing is he went to her house, was it during a burglary? Was it merely for self gain and money NAD then it turned bad and it turned into a murder? Those are all kinds of aggravating circumstances. Now, another thing is afterwards, the kind of planned-ness, the way that they systematically covered things up could be an aggravating thing in that, well, it was kind of cold blooded, it was planned out, they were in their right minds, this was not a violent random act of an impassioned person. This was a methodical crime. So all that may come into play as painting this negative picture of the defendant.
One thing that the defense is going to consider is an insanity defense. If there's a possibility of that. It has to be considered, it's sort of responsible practice to take a look at that. And there's just things that seem out of whack about the whole crime and who did it and who the victim was, right? Something doesn't seem right. Not that any murder's right. What I mean is that this just seems, something strange happened here.
Payne Lindsey: Yes.
Doug Miller: And everyone's shocked that this guy's been fingered at this point. Insanity, it's not guilty by reason of insanity, the NGRI, and there are two standards for that in Georgia. And that's operating under a delusional compulsion, and that would be something like, the devil came in and told me he was gonna kill everyone in Ocilla if I didn't kill Tara, and so I was doing it to save everyone, and really believing that. That's a delusion, it's psychotic, it's a complete lack of attachment to actual reality.
The second standard is the inability to distinguish right from wrong. Psychosis, it's an/or the inability to distinguish right from wrong 'cause if you're operating a delusional compulsion then you're assuming right is doing what these auditory hallucinations told you, and the belief that the devil was gonna kill everyone else, but the inability to distinguish right from wrong can emerge from a number of factors including intellectual deficits, momentary states of confusion, other kinds of false beliefs that maybe don't reach delusional levels, there's a whole range of ideas that things that can disconnect someone from their ability to distinguish right from wrong.
It's rare, I mean our society depends on that ability that we all act in a way that is right and not wrong. And sure, people take little privileges here and there with it, but murder is quite a substantial one. Now both of those standards, it's a very very high legal standard. In other words, there has to be some serious heavy evidence to support either one of those, or both.
Payne Lindsey: A lot of what Doug and I talked about was just speculation. But the idea that Ryan may have developed some sort of unhealthy obsession with teachers or just Tara specifically, seemed to fit better with the way he's been described to me. The burglary theory just wasn't cutting it.
Payne Lindsey: While I was in Ocilla last week, I paid a visit to Dusty Vassey over at the Ocilla Star just to catch up and talk about everything.
Dusty Vassey: I feel like I was woken up by this whole thing, to be honest. I mean I was not expecting anything that happened like this happened.
Payne Lindsey: Think about where we started. I mean seriously, try to picture ...
Dusty Vassey: We were right here.
Payne Lindsey: Yeah we were like right ... picture the first time I ever came here. What the hell did you think was gonna happen? Be honest with me.
Dusty Vassey: I thought you'd do like 10 episodes and the it would be, you know.. Remember that time there was that podcast about Tara Grinstead case? Yeah, and that would be it.
After Ryan got arrested, there was a lot of speculation going around about who else might get arrested. And I'm sure a lot of people got all of a sudden wrapped up into that, "Oh my goodness, somebody I care about's getting talked about." And of course one person did get arrested too. Bo Dukes. But that press conference when it sunk into me that she's really dead.
Payne Lindsey: I felt lightheaded. I hadn't really felt like that in my whole life. Sounds like I'm being dramatic but I'm really not.
Dusty Vassey: No I was with you, and I know exactly how you felt.
Payne Lindsey: I was just overwhelmed. I was nervous. I was scared, I was excited, I was in disbelief. It's like, "Yeah this is a story to me. Yeah this is a podcast." But I feel like I'm a part of this, not just because of the podcast. I personally feel like I'm part of this.
Dusty Vassey: Well you are. I think you are.
Payne Lindsey: That's what's different about it. It's not what it started out to be.
Dusty Vassey: No.
Payne Lindsey: I was just trying to tell a story in the beginning. But now I'm trying to seek justice beyond just finding out what happened to Tara. And that's for personal reasons.
Dusty Vassey: Yeah.
Payne Lindsey: And that's what's crazy about this whole story.
I always thought that somebody did murder Tara. But we didn't know.
Dusty Vassey: Oh yeah, me too.
Payne Lindsey: I didn't know that. I couldn't come out and say with 100% confidence, but I always thought it.
Dusty Vassey: Oh yeah, I think most people did.
Payne Lindsey: But when somebody else, that when the GBI tells everybody publicly that this is who murdered Tara, and there's a face to the person, and I can see him, and he looks at me and we're looking at each other.
Dusty Vassey: When I found out that she was really dead, and that's what...[crosstalk]
Payne Lindsey: And that's the thing to, it's that okay ...
Dusty Vassey: 'Cause there was always, always possibility she was still somewhere.
Payne Lindsey: There's that small chance that she's out there.
Dusty Vassey: And I think that's even part of it. 'Cause I drove, when I was driving to work that day, I was really ... the idea had crossed my mind that she might be announcing that she's alive. 'Cause you know, I heard it was good news, so I'm thinking good news.
Payne Lindsey: Maybe they found her, alive.
Dusty Vassey: And then you know then by the time the press conference had come around I'd already heard all these rumors about Ryan Duke being arrested.
Payne Lindsey: We already knew that that's not what they were announcing today.
Dusty Vassey: Yeah, so I was pretty certain that that was gonna be it. But when they announced that he was charged with murder, there was a part of me that just, became really sad, and that sadness at times it's turned into anger. 'Cause, yeah.
JT Ricketson: What I can say is just in the last few days we have started conduction some interviews and that led us to Ryan Duke.
Reporter: Had his name ever come up before in this investigation?
JT Ricketson: It had not. It had not.
This gentleman never came up on our radar screen.
Unknown Caller: She sent me the name, Ryan Duke, I said, "Yeah that's him." Then she calls me and she says, "Is this the Pecan Orchard Story?" I said, "Yeah he is. Yeah how do you know?" She said, "We heard about this 10 years ago."
The GBI said that his name, Ryan Duke's name had never appeared on their radar before, and that is not accurate. He had been questioned.
The GBI had the exact scenario that played out two weeks after Tara disappeared.
Payne Lindsey: Since the day of Ryan Duke's arrest, I have heard from more than one credible source that in some capacity, law enforcement knew about this 12 years ago. I followed up with Dusty again, and this is what he told me.
Dusty Vassey: An hour or two before the press conference started, I got a call from somebody. This specific call said that there was a party back in 2005 and I believe Ryan was talking. And had said something about killing Tara Grinstead, so somebody came forward and reported it in 2005. And gave someone in law enforcement Ryan Duke's name.
I've since learned that it was investigated, and that they didn't find anything.
Payne Lindsey: Investigated as in ...
Dusty Vassey: Went to the Pecan Orchard. I've heard this from multiple sources. More than one person that makes me believe it's true.
Payne Lindsey: So if that's true, then why did the GBI say that Ryan Duke was never on their radar? Or did someone from a local agency somehow neglect to tell them about this?
Unknown Caller: It is now known in the GBI that some Irwin County or civil law enforcement official knew about this location just a few weeks after Tara went missing and kept it from the GBI the whole time.
Was they were having a party at the Pecan Orchard, just a week or two after Tara went missing and one of the boys got drunk and was talking a lot about what they were saying and this person was very uncomfortable with it so they went to the Ocilla Police Department or whatever, County Sheriff's Department, I don't know which one for sure. And told them, and somebody from one of those departments went out to the Pecan Orchard, to the spot and didn't do anything, and didn't tell the GBI.
Payne Lindsey: Maybe the thought there was really nothing to it. And just disregarded it. Either way, that would be a huge mistake. Sending the entire town of Ocilla, and the GBI themselves, on a wild 12 year goose chase. I've been treading very softly in this area, and I've been hesitant to share anything until I felt like the information I was getting was indeed the truth. There is clearly more to the story, and I'm avidly investigating it right now.
Who else was at this party? Who told the local law enforcement about this? And what was actually done? I hope that the podcast, like it's done in the past, will help bring those who know something forward. At first, Up in Vanished was about figuring out what happened to Tara, and it's safe to say now that we're much closer to getting that answer.
But beyond just solving the mystery, this is also about justice. And seeking the truth. All of the truth. No matter how ugly it may be. So with that being said, I'll continue digging, and I would like to encourage anyone else who knows something to come forward and share that information. We've all heard by now the many stories from former friends and classmates of Ryan and Bo, that Ryan just doesn't fit the bill. If we believe what the state is saying, that Ryan Duke killed Tara by himself with his bare hands, then what are we missing here? What do they know that we don't?
And trust me, I've thought a lot about that. And up until this point, I've found nothing at all about Ryan that suggests any sort of plausible motive for her murder. But the other day, I found something that really got my gears turning.
What I'm about to read you is a Facebook message send by Ryan Duke to another former teacher of his on April 27th, 2015 at 6:22 AM. The message reads: How are you? Just an older wiser fool, seeing how you are doing. Gotta admit, thought you were sexy. Things aren't great for me, but it's okay. Like is the singularity we all share. If this is the last we speak, I want you to know you're a wonderful teacher, and a kind person. Thank you for allowing me and my stubborn self to learn. I wish you the best. Ryan A. Duke.