Original Air Date 04.24.2017
In This Episode
Payne discusses Ryan Duke’s state of mind as an indictment comes down, plus a potential deal is struck.
People in this Episode
Bo Duke's friend
Dr. Maurice Godwin
Private Forensic Detective
Journalist, Ocilla Star
Ryan Alexander Duke
Evidence in this Episode
Tara's Purse and Keys
Rob: This episode of up and vanished contains explicit content that is no suitable for children. Listener discretion is advised.
Intro: Ten years ago today marked the last time anybody reported seeing or talking with Tara Grinstead.
Officially police are calling this a missing person's case. [crosstalk]
Payne Lindsey: From Tenderfoot TV in Atlanta, this is Up and Vanished. The investigation of Tara Grinstead. I'm your host, Payne Lindsey. Since the last episode, there's been some major movement in the case against Ryan Duke, for the murder of Tara Grinstead. On April 12th, 2017, a Grand Jury hearing was held in a courthouse in Ocilla.
Speaker from Grand Jury hearing: All right. Thank you ladies and gentleman. If you all just have a seat for just a minute, and you'll be on your way.
Payne Lindsey: For the first time, the state presented evidence to a group of 19 grand jurors, to indict Ryan Duke for Tara Grinstead's murder.
Speaker from Grand Jury hearing: Y'all represent Irwin County for this term of court in considering these cases, and I appreciate your attention.
Payne Lindsey: The evidence heard by the grand jury was to remain secret.
Speaker from Grand Jury hearing: Keep the deliberations of the grand jury secret, and Miss Feasy if you'll deliver those to our clerk, thank you.
Payne Lindsey: And around mid day on April 12th, the word began circling that they made a decision.
Unknown caller: Do I have a whole bunch of cases and they're already done with everything. There's nothing left out. It's all the charges. They just hand it up to indictment.
Payne Lindsey: In a process that sometimes takes days, the grand jury made a decision to indict Ryan Duke on all charges in just a matter of hours.
News reporter 1: We're learning more tonight, for the first time, about those final few minutes of Tara Grinstead's life.
News reporter 2: By grand jury standards, this indictment came fairly quickly in this high profile case. It's the next legal step in answering an often asked question in this town; what exactly happened in this small house? The six count indictment accuses Irwin County resident, Ryan Duke of felony murder, malice murder, aggravated assault, burglary, and concealing a death. The indictment reads, "Duke killed Grinstead with his hand, and committed felony murder by entering her home with the intend to commit a theft, and causing the death of said Tara Faye Grinstead during the commission of the burglary."
Payne Lindsey: Remember that burglary charge and Ryan Duke's arrest warrants? As it turned out, the state's narrative is that Ryan Duke killed Tara during a burglary with the intent to omit a theft. They're saying he was there to rob Tara. The question is, rob her of what? Reviewing the court documents of Ryan Duke's indictment, I noticed something odd. Among the 20 names listed as the members of the grand jury was Dusty Vassey, the reporter from the Ocilla newspaper.
His name had a line through it. It had been crossed out in pen. I called to ask him about this.
Dusty Vassey: I was sitting there that day that Ryan Duke's arrest was announced. I was sitting there thinking, oh my goodness. I'm on this grand jury. This been sitting on my mind for the last almost two months. They take a poll, and then based on who shows up it's just by number really that you get selected, and I was like number seven or something, so I was like definitely on there. This is the first time I've ever been on the grand jury. You're on there for a six month term, so I didn't really know the ins and outs of exactly what. Of all the times to get picked for my first grand jury, and then two weeks later there's the rest of the Tara Grinstead case.
Payne Lindsey: Just a few weeks before Ryan Duke was arrested, Dusty got a letter in the mail saying that he would be serving as a member of the grand jury for the upcoming term. Then, ironically, not too long after, Ryan Duke was arrested for Tara's murder. He was going to be on the grand jury in the state's case against Ryan Duke. The unsolved mystery he had covered dozens of times in Ocilla's newspaper for over a decade. Just a few days before the hearing, he got an important phone call.
Dusty Vassey: Well, the judge called me yesterday and asked me if I could come talk to him. He, I says, you know, he wanted me on the jury because he thought I would be an excellent juror, but he understood this kind of a precarious position for me to be in, and he didn't want me to feel like I had to, given my position. He wanted to give me the opportunity if I wanted to get off the grand jury if I wanted to get off, you know, get off the grand jury. We talked about it and it would be difficult for me to report on it and people not accuse me of saying or you know, say that, "Oh he got this from what happened in the grand jury room, and that's illegal."
It could have potentially led to me being prosecuted if I couldn't prove that I got my information from somewhere else. It was a very tough decision, because I wanted to do my duty, and I thought that I would be a valuable person to have in that room because of what I know about the case. I was kind of leaning toward asking off, but I didn't know what I was going to choose.
I asked the judge, I was like, "Is this forever? You can't report on what happens in that room forever? It's not just to the end of the case?" He said, "Yeah." If I'd of been hit with a one day report on what happened in that room, I would have probably went in that room, but knowing that I never would be able to report on it, I figured it'd probably just best to just be safe and not be in there.
I actually have a lot of respect for Judge Reinhardt. I've had some dealings with him in the past. He's a good guy. When I talked to him yesterday he said he wanted to put something in my ear, inform me, talk really about something that I might want to think about. I knew he wasn't going to say, "You should step down." I figured he would kind of give me the option, which is exactly what he did. Definitely did not, he wouldn't come close to putting pressure on me to do it. In fact, everything he said was, he said, "Selfishly I want you on this jury, but I also understand the position you're in, and want to give you that opportunity."
Payne Lindsey: After putting a tremendous amount of thought into it, Dusty made a tough decision; to excuse himself from the grand jury.
Dusty Vassey: I think it was the right decision. Part of me regrets it, but I do think it was the best one.
Payne Lindsey: By now you've probably heard about this game call Hunt A Killer. It's this murder mystery subscription box service that delivers new clues to your doorstep every month. One of the best parts about Hunt A Killer is the online community, with tons of armchair detectives, all working together to solve the mystery. People are seriously obsessed. It's like living in a true crime series. There are secret Facebook groups, forums, podcasts, and even live videos all playing in to part of the experience. With Hunt A Killer, the stories unfold in an ongoing, creepy correspondence. Things like letters, articles, objects, and tools.
If this sounds cool to you, all you have to do to apply for a membership is go to huntakiller.com. This is growing really fast, and because of that, they only let a few hundred new members in each month. Don't wait too long. To help support Up and Vanished, they've offered a 10% discount for our listeners. Use the code, "GONE," and get 10% off. Go to huntakiller.com and use the promo code, "GONE," and get 10% off. Come join the hunt at huntakiller.com.
In the last episode, before the indictment, I spoke with Collin Miller from Undisclosed, about the grand jury hearing. Now that Ryan Duke has been indicted, I sent Collin all the court documents, and followed up with him.
Are you surprised at how quickly they were able to deliberate?
Collin Miller: Not necessarily. I saw it was about three and a half hours, and assuming it's not a highly complex case, you might have had a few very good witnesses, some pretty key evidence, and been pretty open and shut. My best guess would be that Ryan Duke has made some type of incriminatory statement, and if you have that, it makes an indictment a fairly quick process. Now there might be evidence on the defense side, which wouldn't be presented to the grand jury, but yeah, my best guess for a three and a half hour indictment, would be that Ryan Duke has said something himself that tends to incriminate himself, and that makes it very easy for the grand jury to say there's certainly probable cause for this case to go to trial.
Payne Lindsey: If he did admit to this or have a confession, then couldn't they just basically seal this thing up right now and take him to the judge and sign some papers?
Collin Miller: The question is, how incriminatory was the statement? Is his claim that he, for whatever reason, has a mental impairment, or made it up? There's a lot of jocking that still could go on in terms of plea bargaining, and there's the other individual involved, so there's a lot of still legwork that has to be done before we have a resolution.
Payne Lindsey: Whenever Ryan Duke's arrest warrants first came out, we talked a lot about the definition of burglary, and that was one of the charges that was presented to Ryan Duke. Specifically in the indictment, they say that Ryan Duke was there with the intent to commit a theft.
Collin Miller: Yeah, my understanding of first would be that this was a theory of burglary where he was breaking into the house to cause her harm, and I'm not sure. Maybe in your reporting you've come across something, but I don't know what the theft would be. What property he was intending to steal under their theory.
Maybe goes back to the theory that he said something. It's possible that in either a confession, or incriminatory statement, he mentions that being the reason he enters the house, or maybe Bo Dukes has said something along those lines, so it makes me think that there must be something there. Probably from one of those two, indicating some type of an intent to steal, because otherwise, I don't really see what the evidence would be.
Payne Lindsey: Based on how fast it's moved so far, what do you anticipate happening next, and when?
Collin Miller: Now there will be discovery going back and forth, which is, there are certain obligations on both the prosecution and the defense to disclose what evidence they have, what witnesses they're going to call. There could be plea bargaining, depending on the susceptibility of the prosecution and defense to negotiate the plea. There's the right to a speedy trial, which generally you're looking at eight months or less once it starts getting past eight months, the defendant might have a claim that it's violating his right to a speedy trial.
That would be a best guess. This being an old case for a while, it might extend beyond that a bit. Many states, but not Georgia, have a specific speedy trial act that sets particular deadlines. Georgia doesn't have that, but again, Georgia case law kind of says after eight months have passed from the indictment, it's generally presumptively prejudicial to the defendant, and there's sort of a multi factor test the court looks at beyond eight months, but yeah. I'd be surprised if this extends much past eight months.
Based upon the three and a half hours before the grand jury, it makes me think that this is a fairly straight forward case, with only a handful of witnesses, and some documentary evidence, which would tend to the shorter side, but again, there's this wrinkle of the burglary and the theft, so there are possible complications that could extend it further.
Eight months would be my general guess. The amount of time for the grand jury proceeding, can't say with any certainty, but it makes me think that he said something, because for that short of a period of time to be in place, and to have this charge of burglary based upon intended theft, it makes me think that there had to almost be something coming from him where he was laying out what happened in this crime.
Payne Lindsey: After reviewing the court documents for Ryan Duke's indictment, I then compared them to his original arrest warrant. I noticed something peculiar. The original arrest warrant for Ryan Duke states that he used his hands in an offensive manner, with the intent to, and did, cause serious bodily harm to the person of Tara Grinstead. The indictment documents say something different. The indictment reads this, "Ryan Duke unlawfully made an assault upon the person of Tara Grinstead with the use of his hand." Singular. Not "hands" like the arrest warrant.
At first, I thought, no big deal. Maybe it's a typo. Then they say it again, that he used his hand, not his hands. Not only is the information very specific, but the fact that they're alleging Ryan Duke killed Tara with one hand seemed odd in itself. I asked Phillip Holloway about this.
Phillip Holloway: Well, I've said all along that the arrest warrants could have been worded a little better, and we don't know if that was on purpose, or if it was just they were done quickly, who knows, but there definitely is a difference between the allegations contained in the arrest warrant. Now, the warrants are not the official charging documents, so we have to believe that the district attorney was more precise in making their allegations, because if they accuse one thing, like plural being hands, and it turns out to be one hand, that could be something that a juror could get hung up on.
It's very important for a prosecutor to be accurate in the things that they allege in the indictment, so unless it's a typo, and I doubt that it is, the formal allegation is that only one hand was used to commit the aggravated assault, which they say led to her death. I can think of multiple scenarios where a person could hurt someone enough to kill them with one hand. They predominately involve some type of strangulation if you have someone who is sufficiently larger than the victim it could be done with one hand. I can imagine lots of scenarios.
Maybe there's a, one hand's being used for one thing, and one hand's being used for another. I've actually had cases that were like that, where a person was accused of using one hand to do one thing, while they used the second hand to maybe hold someone's hand back or hold somebody down or something like that. I don't know what exactly it means. Could mean, really any number of things but it's definitely a distinction between the warrants and the formal accusation, which is the grand jury's indictment.
There's a Latin phrase in law where we say the alogata, the allegations must match the probata, which is the evidence. The probative information. In this case, if they believe that the death was caused by only one hand, they would need that allegation to match whatever evidence they believe that they have, precisely. I think that it's a guess, but it's an educated guess. I'm fairly certain that they're going off of statements that were made by Ryan Duke at a minimum, certain admissions against his legal interest, possibly a full confession, or maybe something in between. We just don't know.
I believe that it probably would have been a confession. That's how they would know that level of detail. People can minimize their behavior and it happens all the time. I've seen it in my office, I've seen it in court rooms. I've seen it when I was a cop on the street. People may come in and admit to part of something, but not all of it. They may give you enough to satisfy the elements of the defense so that the charge can go through, or they can plead to it, or they can be tried on it, but sometimes people don't tell, necessarily, the whole truth. They don't want themselves to look quite as bad in the eyes of the cops, or maybe with their parents, their family, their public, who knows.
The distinction between hands plural, and hand singular is important. What exactly they're saying happened with that hand to cause the death, it was not specified, and I think it should have been specified to some degree in the indictment. It's just another reason I have the personal opinion that this case may not go to trial, because if you're not going to have a defense that's going to be challenging the language of the indictment, it's safe to draft one that doesn't have that level of detail.
Payne Lindsey: They're saying that Ryan Duke went to Tara's house unlawfully with the intent of stealing something, and then killed her with one hand. Then took her body by himself to that pecan orchard, and no one ever saw it.
Phillip Holloway: They also say that he went in with the intention of committing aggravated assault, so let's look at it like this. If I go to your house tonight and I kill you, which I'm not, I promise, but if I do, and I take you out, your body, and you've got your wedding ring on, could I be charged with stealing that wedding ring? Yeah. Of course I could. To that extent I could be charged with burglary of your house, with the intention of omitting theft, even though that wasn't really my primary intention. If he gave information that said, "I removed her body, or I took her purse for this that, and the other reason," that's a theft. So, if a theft occurred, then it's logical to infer that that was at least part of his intention, was to commit a theft, which gives rights to the basis of a burglary.
It's possible that there was many things that he had in his head at the time, and one of those things was an intention to commit a theft.
Payne Lindsey: If he had used an object to kill her with one hand, would that be specified?
Phillip Holloway: No, they're alleging that his hand was that object, because think about it. If your hand is holding a gun, and you shoot someone, then they're going to say, "With a gun." Okay. Or, if it's a lamppost, they're going to say, "a lamp post," so if you're holding an object, whether it be this microphone here or a knife, or anything else, and you use that object, they're going to allege that object. If there is no object, and it's only your hand, they're going to allege that it was the hand that was the instrumentality of the death. The prosecutor has to be as specific as possible, and the evidence must match the allegation.
If the evidence was that only one hand was used, then that's what the indictment should say. If the evidence was a statement by the defendant, then they're going to be working off that statement, whether it's that statement's entirely true or not is a whole different discussion.
Payne Lindsey: Since Ryan Duke was arrested, his Facebook account has gone offline. But last week, for just a couple of hours, it randomly came back. During this time period, I was able to obtain screen shots of some of Ryan Duke's Facebook status updates over the past couple of years. To say that they were interesting would be a major understatement. Because Ryan Duke and I were not friends on Facebook, only some of his content was available. I'll start with the earliest Facebook status.
December 12th, 2015. Two roads emerged in the woods. I took the one less traveled, and it made all the difference. June 16th, 2015. Relatively grab an electric wire. A second feels like an hour. Find yourself in the arms of a beautiful woman, an hour seems like a second. If I was a lying, cheating, thieving meth addict, or wife beating ass, I'd have friends. Fuck being a good person. June 17th, 2015. Read the Bible, then try and judge me. Hypocrites. The tick tock of the clock is painful. All sane and logical. If you like me, then well, forgive me, or you lying about being a Jesus freak. I wonder what I'll miss. Golden rule plus. What goes around comes around. I am what I am.
June 18th, 2015. I can't sleep again. I want to sleep, but thanks anyways, anxiety. March 9th, 2016. Love is the only cure for the stupidly and hate. Love. It's that simple. Love will mend your soul. June 8th, 2916. Walk alone and your shadow will be your only friend. June 10th, 2016. I built my world of legos. Then I tore my world and life down. February 17th, 2017. Less than a week from when Ryan Duke was arrested for Tara Grinstead's murder. To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else, is the greatest accomplishment.
I presented Ryan Duke's Facebook messages to forensic psychologist, Doug Miller, who we talked to in last weeks case evidence. I wanted to get his take on this.
Doug Miller: So, my first impression is there's some bitterness here. This little kind of anger toward life. There's feeling misunderstood by others. There's a little pain in this. As I go one by one, you'll hear where I'm getting some of that. There's a sense of feeling misunderstood by society, by the world. The one about two roads emerge in the woods, I took the one less traveled, it made all the difference, you know, I'm sure you went where I go with that, is that the night of the crime. You know, beginning to get this general impression that here's a guy who seems committed this murder, and he's kind of busting at the seams. He knows he can't tell anyone, but it's like leaking out in these other symbolic ... Rory talked about symbolic expiation before, and kind of dealing with his guilt.
As a psychologist, is there some unconscious communication in all this that you just have to maybe read a little bit between the lines, or, and again, none of this means anything until it ties into more factual, solid information. This is the way my great professor, Ray Kradick talked about it. When you do a psychological evaluation, the more substantial data from the test results, and the hard data form the skeleton. These kinds of statements and those sentence complete responses, you kind of hang on the skeleton and that support it and fill it out and make it more whole.
On June 16th, 2015 he Facebooked, "If I was a lying, cheating, thieving meth addict, or a wife beating ass, I'd have friends. F being a good person." The bitterness. I mean, there's a feeling like he's a good guy, and the world isn't understanding him. If that was before the crime, you get the sense that this guy's kind of an outsider and is kind of angry about it and doesn't see the world as a just or fair place. One of these doesn't mean a whole lot. There's been times we've all felt something like that, maybe.
Now, this whole thing about feeling judged. "Read the Bible, then try to judge me, hypocrites." Who's judging him is the question. What happened? It could have been something specific at church, or it could have been with someone he talked to. If you plug it into the case, he's probably judging himself about what happened, giving one set of, kind of one picture of who he is. Then he's projecting that on the world. He's judging himself, projection on the world, feels like the world's judging him. Maybe he has a history of that going back, wasn't a popular kid, felt judged, that sort of thing. Now he has this heinous act that he's committed, and may it seems, felt horrible about, maybe even traumatized himself with.
This is almost like he's crying out for forgiveness. If you don't like, then well, forgive me. Or are you lying about being a Jesus freak. Again, that kind of forgiveness. The tick tock of the clock is painful, all sane and logical. That just feels like a man who's in pain, and time is going by and he's just in pain. Time is this relentless, reasonable, systematic thing that's ordered, and he's in this kind of tortured state.
Golden rule plus. What goes around, comes around. Again, this kind of calling for compassion, calling for understanding. The rule of karma, what goes around comes around. Who knows. These would be things that like, if I was working with him, evaluating him, I'd want to know. I'd ask him, "What was going on in your mind at that point?" I want to sleep, but thanks anyway, anxiety. That speaks to me. That's, if he was having night terrors, people who have night terrors often have trouble sleeping, because they go to sleep and they get terrorized.
Payne Lindsey: If he was having sleeping problems in 2005, 2006, and in 2015 they either stopped and came back ...
Doug Miller: Or they were there all along. I'll hasten that they were there all along, and for whatever reason, but also, if it was post traumatic nightmares, then they were probably relatively continuous, perhaps with an eb and flow, depending on his stress level.
Relatively, grab an electric wire a second, feels like an hour. Find yourself in the arms of a beautiful woman, an hour seems like a second. Boy, that's a romantic thought, and it's also this like, who's going to grab an electric wire? This is a man looking for love. Wants to be loved. Wants to be held by a beautiful woman. Walk alone and your shadow will be your only friend. That suggests that he's walking alone. Now, what's the shadow. Shadow's a shadow cast by light. Psychologically speaking, well and it can also be the dark side of ourselves. The things we disown or want to disown. Things we're pressing down, and something menacing.
Then here's this kind of spiritual sentiment. Love is the only cure for the stupidity and hate. Love. It's that simple. Love will mend your soul. It's a romantic guy. It's a guy who wants love, and values love. Kind of this existential [inaudible 00:27:21], their bitterness. I build my world of legos, then I tore my world and life down. Again, you know, as a whole, it's this bitterness, it's this yearning for love as a solution. It's feeling judged, and maybe guilt, and wanting to be seen in a more positive light.
His Facebook profile picture, it looks like a young man or older boy with flowers behind his back, standing face to face with a young woman or older girl. I don't know that she has like a sword or something behind her or ...
Payne Lindsey: I think it's a baseball bat. Yeah. It's a little boy and a little girl, and the little boy has roses behind his back, and the girl has a baseball bat.
Doug Miller: So, this immediately puts me on the track of what was Ryan's romantic life like? What was going on there? Was he a guy who all he really wanted to do was give a woman who he loved some roses and he felt like he was going to get beat down by a bat every time he did that? There's some other text that supports that in here, isn't there?
Payne Lindsey: Yeah.
Doug Miller: So there we are back again. This kind of guy, unrequited love, passionate guy who doesn't feel understood. It's a powerful image. I would pursue that image and see what it meant to him.
Payne Lindsey: Over the past few weeks, I've been scouring through old audio clips of different interviews I've had throughout the past year in this case. I came across a conversation I had with Maurice Godwin about two months before Ryan Duke was arrested. I was asking him for more details about the condition of Tara's house, and also the condition of her car and the carport. I was told that Tara had left something strange in her car.
Maurice Godwin: Hundred dollars in an envelope. It's my understanding it came from, it was given to her by a pageant girl at the pageant.
Payne Lindsey: Found in an envelope.
Maurice Godwin: In the console, yeah.
Payne Lindsey: An envelope with $100 cash in it, was found sitting in Tara's unlocked car in the car port. What was the deal with that? What was the money for?
Maurice Godwin: I don't know.
Payne Lindsey: It was very unlike Tara to leave cash out like that.
Maurice Godwin: Yeah, especially with the door unlocked, right.
Payne Lindsey: I asked Maurice about some of the other unexplained mysteries at Tara's house. Now, keep in mind, this conversation took place before Ryan Duke's arrest. Why do you think her keys are gone? Why would her phone be there and her keys be gone?
Maurice Godwin: Well, there's two ways you can look at that. She either left with somebody that she knew, and the purse and the keys were disposed of like she was, or she drove the car somewhere else, drove the car somewhere else, her car, and whatever happened to her happened there, and the person returned the car, but took the car keys with them. Returned the car, but likely prints on the car keys, right?
Payne Lindsey: Do you think it's possible somebody came back and put her cell phone back inside her house?
Maurice Godwin: I think it's very possible.
Payne Lindsey: Where do you think her keys and purse are right now?
Maurice Godwin: With her.
Payne Lindsey: With her?
Maurice Godwin: Yep.
Payne Lindsey: In another unexplained piece to the puzzle.
Maurice Godwin: Her earrings, chandelier earrings, they are missing. They've never been found.
Payne Lindsey: But Tara's outfit was found at her house, though, right?
Maurice Godwin: Yeah, well, but her undergarments were not. Yeah, the rest of it, they were found. The jeans were over to the left of the lamp on a little, just thrown there. Her coat was on the bed. The clothes that were laying there, the two items, garments that you see laying there with the shoes in front of the chest of drawer, are not anything that she had on. They're two different colors.
Payne Lindsey: To make things even more confusing, the drivers seat in Tara's car ...
Maurice Godwin: The seat was pushed back. A lot more than she could be able to reach the pedals. More than what she could drive at five, three.
Payne Lindsey: When police inspected her car that Monday morning, they found her drivers seat was pushed back as if someone taller had driven her car.
Maurice Godwin: Her seat would be right up at the steering wheel, almost.
Payne Lindsey: And the tires on Tara's car ...
Maurice Godwin: They had mud on them. Mud on the tires. Clayish mud.
Payne Lindsey: Mud on the tires of her car was unusual. For one, she always kept her car clean, and immaculate. And two, based on Tara's timeline, and known whereabouts, she hadn't driven anywhere to collect this mud in the first place. So, why was it there?
Maurice Godwin: That would have been unusual. She kept excellent care of that car.
Payne Lindsey: One more telling piece of information was about Tara's dog, Dolly.
Maurice Godwin: When she's at home, the dog was an inside dog. When she wasn't, it was outside in the backyard. The dog was found in the back fence. In the fenced in area in the back.
Payne Lindsey: The only time Tara kept Dolly outside was when she wasn't home, so assuming that Tara did make it home that night after the barbecue, why was Dolly still left outside? What do you think happened? She leaves the barbecue, does she go home and change clothes?
Maurice Godwin: Let me ask you this question. Other than the phone and the jeans at home, jeans just thrown over there, what proved to you how that she even got home?
Payne Lindsey: I don't have any proof. According to the state's case against Ryan Duke, he allegedly killed Tara inside her home that night, while attempting to commit a theft. This narrative just didn't sit well with me, and it didn't sit well with Dusty Vassey, either.
Dusty Vassey: Why is her purse gone? Because she left on her own. Because she got in her car and drove wherever she was going. There's a much bigger flaws than the glove outside her house, the dog was outside, the dog didn't bark, the muddy tires, the seat being let back, the hundred dollars in the console, the purse being missing, the keys being missing, the pageant tape being missing. All these things don't make a lot of sense. Why I'd move her body at all.
Why, if you're going to move her body, drive her 20 miles to the other side of Fitzgerald? Change the location to the pecan orchard and it makes a little more sense. The pecan orchard makes a whole hell of a lot more sense for the place where she died than her house does. I don't know how she dies at the pecan orchard, but assume she does die at the pecan orchard. You can very easily map out the entire thing and fit almost all the clues.
There's a few things that don't really necessarily make sense, like why would she leave her cell phone behind, but that could be explained by somebody saying, "Oh, heck, they might be able triangulate her cell phone to where she's at. Maybe we should take it back to her house."
Payne Lindsey: There was obviously still a ton of unanswered questions. Tara leaves the barbecue sometime around 11pm and presumably goes home. Then sometime around midnight, Ryan Duke allegedly breaks into her house, with the intent to commit a theft, and then kills her. Then, by himself, takes the body out to the orchard. There's so many holes in this theory, began to appear less and less likely to me. Then I got a phone call that would change everything.
Unknown Source: I used to go out all day and play country and western, kind of rock band place, old time rock. I ran the concession stand. I would always come home and very tired about 1:30 in the morning, because we had to clean up and I always count our money and stuff like that. I always had a friend in Fitzgerald who’d wait until I got home to call him, so he'd know I got home okay. I always looked at my clock when I turned on my road here for the house, because I live one block over from Tara, and it was 1:30, and I always stop at that road. There's not a stop sign, but I stop because there's been wrecks there.
I look both ways, and her carport light was on, but her car was gone, and it was 1:30.
Payne Lindsey: This throws off everything. She said at 1:30 in the morning that night Tara's car was not in her car port. Then where was it, and more importantly, where was Tara?
Two months ago, just two days after Ryan Duke was arrested, I got an email from someone. That someone was a former friend of Bo Dukes, the man charged with helping Ryan cover up this heinous crime. At this point in time, Bo Dukes name was not yet wildly known, at least publicly. His friend contacted me before Bo Dukes was arrested. This friend of his, who I'll refer to as Darin, shared with me a lot of important information, which I'm about to begin sharing with you now. It all started with a phone call from Bo Duke's friend, the man I'll be calling Darrin. For Darrin's safety, we are not using his actual voice. The following audio is our first phone call together.
Darrin: This is what I'm saying. At this point, I'm not even sure what he's capable of anymore. He's not the same person I was friends with, do you know what I mean? Like this dude, I have no idea what he's capable of. I have a feeling he's going to be very vindictive towards anybody that lashes out against him. So, Bo and I were texting all of Friday, after Ryan was arrested. Basically, the way Bo's immunity worked out, is that after Ryan was arrested, he was able to freely talk about it, but once again, I think his ability to talk about it is just based on what he told the GBI. I'm not sure that he'll tell me a different story.
You can read the text messages. He seems pretty fucking open about all that shit. At the same time, I don't think he's dumb enough to actually tell me the truth, but there's a different truth. I'll send you the fucking message, where Bo talks about how Ryan, literally, Ryan brought the body to his fucking farm, and just dumped it on the edge of the farm, and apparently he didn't tell Bo about it for four days. It's so funny. Just like all this shit.
I think Bo got spooked by your podcast. I really do. I think that was part of the influence in telling Brook. I think he thought you were getting close, but once again, that's just speculation. That's just me feeling out certain things. The fact that he's sitting there, fucking trolling people, too, it's like, forgive any fucking remorse for any of this shit? I don't think he does, dude. It's actually like, pretty brutal. I don't know. He actually sent me text messages, too, of the shit he found on your discussion board.
I was just like, fuck man. Come on.
Payne Lindsey: Bo and Darrin exchanged a lot of text messages. Over the course of the past two months, and he sent me all of them. I'll start from the very beginning of the conversation. On February 10th, 2017, this was two weeks before Ryan Duke was arrested. To protect Darren's identity for the time being, I will be omitting most of what Darrin said in the conversations, and only reading Bo's messages. For future reference, Brook is Bo's girlfriend. Bo begins the text message conversation with this.
Dude, I know I have been weird. A strange is happening. I'm sorry bro. Old demons are coming to the surface. Things I should have dealt with years ago. Criminal investigation things. Darrin says, "I'll call you tomorrow, man." Bo replies, "Okay." Then he sends Darrin a website link to upandvanished.com. Bo then says this, "I talked to the GBI a few months ago. I didn't kill her, but was involved." Darrin says, "What was the break that shook you guys? It seemed like this case was dead. Or did Brook come forward? I read online that someone's girlfriend may have called in." Bo replies, "Brook let it slip through her Mom. She tipped off the GBI." Through a long negotiation between Brook, the case agent, myself, and eventually my lawyer, and the DA's, we worked out a deal. It worked out well. For me, at least.
Brook may get the reward. Darrin says, "So, will you get arrested, and then they let you go after the trial?" Bo replies, "No. I won't be arrested or prosecuted at all. I'm glad my Grandfather isn't alive for this. He would fucking kill me." Darrin says, "Dude, who else knows about this beside you?" Bo replies, "Emily, two guys from Ocilla, Brook, my cousin, and possibly others I don't remember telling. Please, never bring me a dead body, although now that I've had some practice, dot, dot, dot."