Original Air Date 05.08.2017
In This Episode
Every story has an ending… Like the song at the end? Download it here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/hurts-like-hell-single/id1023943695 “Hurts Like Hell” Performed by Fleurie @Fleuriemusic Written by Lauren Strahm Courtesy of New Razor & Tie Enterprises, LLC.
People in this Episode
Journalist, Ocilla Star
Ryan Alexander Duke
Bo Duke's friend
Rob: This episode of Up and Vanished contains explicit content that is not suitable for children. Listener discretion is advised.
Darrin with Distorted voice: I'll send you the fucking message when 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, and then Bo went in and just did fucking damage control.
Darrin: I'll send you the fucking message when 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, and then Bo went in and just like fucking damage control.
Misc. Newsclips: More than 40 GBI agents swarmed the pecan orchard in Benhill County this afternoon.
Not one, but two former students from that school under arrest.
With the intent to and did cause serious bodily harm to the person of Tara Grinstead.
Charging Ryan Alexander Duke with the murder of 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.
At the end of the last episode, I played a call from one of Bo Dukes' friends who I called Darrin. Darrin had reached out to me right after Ryan Duke's arrest and began sharing with me his text message conversations between him and Bo. This went on for months, up until the last episode actually when I revealed a portion of our first call together.
I told you that it wasn't his real voice, and that's because it wasn't. He was scared about his identity being revealed. Not to Bo, but to the public. So we made a distorted voice transcription of the call, but since the last episode aired, Darrin changed his mind, and he agreed to let me use his real voice in the podcast. So here it is.
Darrin: I don't even know how to begin. I mean, I'm sure you have plenty of questions. How 'bout, how 'bout you just hit me with one?
Payne Lindsey: Okay, so is there anybody else besides Ryan Duke involved in Tara's disappearance or murder?
Darrin: Yes. Okay, so maybe we should start from my connection to all of this. Bo and I were roommates in the military, and from that relationship that we had, we actually became friends. And, you know, we were confidant in each other, the military obviously, this, the same connection that people draw from that, and we had that. And, a, through the relationship Bo had mentioned once that he was aware of a body that had been buried and, at that time, you know, I mean I just thought of it as macho talk, bullshit talk, I mean we were heavy drinkers back then, party animals. Work hard, play hard mentality kind of thing, and I never really ever asked him any more details, I just, I would have just told him shut the fuck up, you're full of shit.
Once again, I'm just trying to help you put together the pieces of this, this case, but yeah he told, he told me awhile ago and I've already talked to the GBI and I've told the GBI all of this as well. So, I told the GBI, actually everything I'm telling you. He had made a comment and I had written it off as macho talk but yes, he told me, I want to say it's circa 2009, honestly, I don't remember man, this is years ago for me. A lot of water has passed under bridge since then, now if he would have mentioned the names to me, or if he would have made it more real then I think I would have done something sooner.
You know that the thing like, you know, I'm, I'm sitting here beating myself up like, maybe I could have done my own research and figured out that maybe that she was the one. But I never did and I never wanted to honestly. I've been in touch Bo, Bo reached out to me. He talked to me, I don't know, I don't think Bo has very many friends and I think that he wanted to tell somebody about it and he reached out to me and he pretty much told me everything that he knew as well. He told me a lot, now whether or not it's true I mean, I'm taking it all with a grain of salt. I'm not being investigated. I'm not, I'm not the one that knows what's going on, but he told me quite a bit information and I'm going to share that with you, because like I said, I think that the presentation that you're gonna give to the public will be better than say, Fox News.
So, Bo got drunk one night on Jim Beam. He got drunk on Jim Beam one night, and he told his girlfriend Brooke about what happened, and she got scared and told her mother. Her mother's the one that went to the police and told them. So as soon as that happened, you know, her mother honestly told Bo, in case it's not okay, and went to the cops, and Bo went and got a lawyer immediately.
So he went to a lawyer and he was able to approach the GBI and get an immunity plea. So Bo is absolutely free right now. I'm pretty sure he'll remain free from what I understand from him. But no, he basically went to them and he's like, okay, I'll tell who the murderer was if you give me an immunity deal. His involvement was that he was, him and Ryan Duke were roommates. They're not a relation, they were just friends and they were roommates at the time.
So from what I understand from Bo, Ryan was just burglarizing the place. It was, you know, around the events of some big festival and Ryan knew that all the townsfolk would be distracted so he went over there to rob her house. And once again this is just from Bo, is, if there's any kind of romantic relationship, Bo never told me about it and Bo actually even asked him for details once that he never, ever, ever told Bo as far as I know.
Now they are living in a house on the outside Bo's family peacock farm, so Bo told me that after it happened Ryan was able to get the body on the peacock farm. Ryan brought the body to the peacock farm and left it there. Now Bo told me that he, Ryan didn't even tell him about it until four days after the incident or the murder or the [inaudible 00:07:53]. So after four days passed Ryan eventually told Bo and then from there Bo helped him dispose the body.
Payne Lindsey: And how was that?
Darrin: Burning. All my information that I've gotten from Bo has been through text messages. So a lot of my ideas have been through inference, you know what I mean, like, he sent me text messages, I read them and I'm just putting the pieces together myself. When Bo originally went to the GBI after everything I already told you, the GBI was skeptical. They were like, okay, we need some evidence. Obviously all evidence you can't just come to somebody and go hey, I know who did it. So from there they had to corroborate Bo's story in another way. And the way that that got corroborated was actually through a couple of friends that he had talked about this with prior, including me. So basically to corroborate Bo's story the GBI had to talk to me and a few other individuals who Bo said that he had told in the past. So Bo's like, hey, you know, I'm not lying. There are other people that I told about this at one time or point. The GBI is like, okay, give us their names, we're going to talk to them.
So, the GBI contacted these people and they're like, hey, did Bo ever say anything to you about the disappearance of a body, or anything like that. Everybody basically said, yes. And from there the GBI was able to get a warrant. And then the arrest was made and that's literally the extent of my involvement. I've been keeping up with the discussion boards. Brooke's on there too, and she's not shy about this shit and I think it's because, once again, at this point and time Bo has an immunity deal so I think they think they're untouchable, which is kind of not an okay thing to feel like in my opinion. I mean, honestly at this point I don't even want to talk about it anymore. I don't want anything to do with this. It was just weird. It was an honestly weird experience. I'm pretty indifferent about my feelings in all this, like, I don't know if I should have spoke up earlier when you first mentioned it to me, but the truth is like, how the fuck should I have known.
You know what, dude, at this point in my life, I'm saying fuck Bo, like, yeah, we were friends, he told me this and I dismissed it as fucking pure gossip. But at this point, I'm a fucking normal guy, like this is fucking wrong. Like, the fact that Bo has immunity and he's my friend, like, I think that's wrong. I think Bo deserves to go to fucking jail, just as much as anybody else does. Whatever he told me is probably right on par with whatever he told the GBI with his immunity deal. You know what I mean, so whether or not I mean, I doubt it, man. I mean, Bo's not a fucking dumb, fucking individual. He's actually a highly intelligent guy. So I have a feeling that he will not deviate from his original story.
I feel like I'm fucking working with you now or I guess I am. It is a small town. These fucking people are, they know each other, everyone knows each other. I went to Ocilla once, to Bo's farm. We visited there once and the fucking Sheriff rolled up to the fucking house, and it's like, hey, how it's going everybody, hey, Bo how's it going. Like they fucking know each other, man, like it is absolutely one of those things where it's like, yeah, we all want to get the truth, but, like how many people are actually fucking complicit. Who the fuck knows.
It's so funny, it's just like all this shit, like I think Bo got spooked by your podcast. I really do. The fact that he's sitting there, fucking trolling people too, it's like, does he have any fucking remorse for any of this shit, I don't think he does dude. I think the GBI just is happy with the case being settled, which is absolutely fucking unfortunate.
Payne Lindsey: So Darrin was an old friend of Bo's who got roped into this mess because at one point in time Bo told him he knew where a dead body was and when it became time for the GBI to corroborate Bo's story Darrin was one of the first people on the list and he told the GBI everything he told me, and as for the other people Bo told, he didn't know all of them. Just the ones that Bo had sent in a text message. Bo's text message said this: Emily, two guys from Ocilla, Brooke, my cousin, and possibly others I don't remember telling. I've learned that Emily is Bo's ex-wife and Brooke is Bo's current girlfriend. But as for the two guys from Ocilla, and his cousin, we still don't exactly know. But one thing's for sure. It was Bo's girlfriend Brooke, that brought the tip to the GBI through her mom, so if anyone besides Bo knew the truth, it will be her. Brooke has to know everything.
If you haven't heard the news yet, last week there was some pretty major movement in this case. On Thursday, May 4, was Ryan Duke's arraignment. At the Irwin County courthouse in Ocilla.
Newsclip: 33 year old Ryan Duke's arraignment is scheduled at the Irwin County courthouse at 9:30 tomorrow morning at Judge Melanie Cross' courtroom. An arraignment is a formal reading of charges against the defendant and the defendant is expected to enter a plea before the court.
Payne Lindsey: The day had finally come, for Ryan Duke to hear his official charges listed in the court of law, a long awaited step for justice in the Tara Grinstead case.
Newsclip: The feeling inside the courtroom this morning matched the weather outside for most of south Georgia today. The public was rained on, everyone was anticipating Ryan Duke to walk through the doors.
Payne Lindsey: But then he didn't. Ryan Duke didn't show. In his place was his attorney.
Spokesperson From Courtroom: All rise. Order. Irwin Country Superior Court is now in session. The Honorable Melanie Cross presides.
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation ... "
Please be seated.
Good morning everybody
Petition 1 State of Georgia vs ...
Payne Lindsey: It didn't sound dramatic, but what Ryan Duke's attorney filed was not what everyone was expecting. So what exactly did this mean, did Ryan Duke just waive the arraignment.
Philip Holloway: It's, hell, it's a not guilty plea in waiver of arraignment. Waiver of arraignment entered, not guilty plea by his lawyer.
Payne Lindsey: Ryan Duke essentially pleaded not guilty to the murder of Tara Grinstead, who saw that coming?
Newsclip: Ryan Duke was arrested in Irwin County for the murder of Tara Grinstead, waived his arraignment hearing today in Irwin County Superior Court, that waiver is an automatic plea of not guilty.
Duke was not there but his attorney, John Mobley, waived the arraignment on behalf of Duke. That means that Duke acknowledges that he's aware of the charges against him and he is entering an initial plea of not guilty.
Law experts say it's highly likely he won't be tried in Irwin County. It will take a lot of time and money but the court will have to find another location to try him. That location has to have a similar demographic as Irwin County.
Payne Lindsey: After the announcement, I talked with Dusty Vassey.
Dusty Vassey: I'm sure you heard,
What have you heard. What have you heard too. Ryan Duke, his attorney, entered a not guilty plea. He also entered a omnibus motion and discovery request. Which is a five page document basically asking for all the prosecution's evidence.
Creating this five page document to ask for discovery, a lot of the evidence, it seems like he's preparing for trial. Out of decency you wouldn't want to make someone have to copy all the evidence in this case unless you were preparing to go to trial. He's asking for every interview, every police report, every, everything related to the case, and the evidence is supposed to be the largest case file in GBI history.
Payne Lindsey: I caught up with Philip Holloway to help break down everything that's currently happening.
Philip Holloway: Ryan Duke waived his arraignment, that simply means that he told the Judge through his lawyer, I don't need to have the charges read out loud. We've got a copy of the indictment. He's represented by competent counsel, there's no need to have a formal arraignment process. The attorney also filed various pre-trial motions including a motion for discovery, which means that they're asking the prosecutor to send them a copy of everything they've got in their case file.
Now, this is an extremely large case file from an investigative perspective. It's likely that it can take quite some time maybe even weeks or months just simply to get the material to the defense counsel. Then the defense counsel has to digest each and every item of evidence. So for everyone to do their job they're going to have to look for any factual defenses, any legal defenses, or anything else that might be in their client's benefit before they make the decision about whether or not to take the case to trial. That's how it typcially works, of course, there can be an exception in any case and this case as we have already seen has proceeded like none other in many ways.
So while what I've just described is the traditional way, it doesn't mean it's necessarily going to happen that way but this is a procedural thing. The plea of not guilty can be changed at any time but in order to do his due diligence his lawyer is ethically obligated to go through all this material. Before you cut a deal to plead someone, even if it's to a reduced sentence or a reduced charge, you've got to do your due diligence. You've got to make sure that you look for legal and factual defenses, things that can help your client in the event that you may have overlooked something. So you don't want to overlook anything, you want to be thorough and careful and get it done right.
Ultimately the decision about whether to go to trial is one that the defendant and only the defendant can make. It's usually done after consultation with counsel and perhaps family members, but in any event it's Ryan's decision to make and his alone. If a plea offer is made the DA would convey that to his lawyer who would then be ethically obligated, regardless of what the offer is, he has to take it to the client and let the client consider it. The judge ultimately would have to decide whether or not a fair trial could be had in Irwin County. I don't think really there's any disagreement that there's just no way that you could pick a jury in Irwin County that has not developed some opinions about this case and probably holds onto those opinions very strongly and could not listen to the evidence and base their decision just on what they hear in the courtroom and the chances are very high it's just 99.9% or higher that it would have to be moved.
There's just no way, and the minute the judge would have to pick a jurisdiction in the State of Georgia that has similar demographics to Irwin County. And if you've ever been to Irwin County like you and I have, you know that the demographics there are fairly unique. So, it's going to be a challenge for the judge to find a place in the State of Georgia to have a trial. But that, in and of itself, is a tall order and it takes awhile to logistically set everything up for a change of venue. You've got to move not only the defendant who's in custody so that means law enforcement is involved. You've got to move court staff to someplace else in the state. You've got to provide housing for the judge. You've got to provide housing for the defense team, you've got to provide housing for the witnesses. Basically you just pick up the entire circus and move it on the road. The only thing different is that the jury would come from another county.
Payne Lindsey: Based on how specific the indictment documents were stating that Ryan Duke used his hand, singular, it seemed likely that in some capacity he confessed to the crime. But maybe that wasn't the case. I asked Philip about that.
Philip Holloway: Even if he did confess or if he made some incriminating statements, you got to keep in mind it doesn't necessarily mean they're going to be admissible. One of the things that the attorneys will do will be to evaluate the circumstances surrounding the way law enforcement obtained the statement or the confession if there was one. They've got to make sure that it was freely and voluntarily given, that it wasn't made in violation of his Miranda rights, if he was in custody and he was interrogated without having his Miranda Rights read to him that would affect whether or not his statement can be used against him. It would almost be malpractice to rush into a really quick, fast-track plea deal without going through everything.
This has been said to be the largest criminal case file in the history of the State of Georgia or with the GBI and I've seen some very, very large case files in my career and those files sometimes take years to resolve. If they've got to look through every item of evidence this could take a while. They need to look for any evidence that's exculpatory in nature. There's a lot of things in this case file, no doubt, that are completely irrelevant to these defendants. Because as we've seen there's been lots of leads that were followed up on that didn't amount to anything, but if you were going to defend this case and you were going to say, it really wasn't my guy, then the defense is going to have to explore all of that. So they're going to have to go through all these leads that turned out to be dead ends to see if they were in fact dead ends or did the GBI misinterpret something, did they overlook something, did they just simply not follow up on something that they should have when other leads or tips were coming in.
While the parties are trading the evidence back and forth, and there is a reciprocal obligation if the defense has any evidence that they want to use in their case in chief, there's an obligation that they give most of that stuff over to the prosecution as well. But the flow of information is almost entirely one directional in these cases and from the defense perspective it's probably a lot like drinking from a fire hose because they've got a lot of stuff just coming at them really fast.
While that's going on they're going to explore the legality of any statements, they're going to look into any plea deals that may be in works for, maybe a witness like Bo Dukes, one of the things they filed is a motion to reveal the deal. So any specifics of any plea deals or promises of leniency or immunity deals, anything that's been offered to Bo Dukes will have to be given over in detail to Ryan Duke's attorney. So that they can use it in the event of a trial, so it would work like this, when Bo takes the stand to testify, and he's cross-examined, the jury gets to hear all of the details about the price that the State is paying him basically for his testimony.
Paying him in the sense that he's getting huge a benefit and the idea would be to cast him in the light that, you know, you're just saying this because this is what the prosecution wants you to say and you're doing it so that you can avoid very serious consequences. You're doing this so you can avoid a criminal conviction. Really isn't it true that it's the other way around, you're just saying this because this is what the prosecutor and his plea deal has induced you to do.
If he has some particular incentive to testify in a certain way, it goes directly to his motive to fabricate testimony or to change testimony or to say things that aren't necessarily 100% accurate. So if Ryan's case goes to trial Bo is going to have to testify and he's going to have to satisfy that condition of truthful testimony and cooperation because if he doesn't live up to his part of the deal, then the deal can be revoked.
Payne Lindsey: So Ryan says he's not guilty, at least according to what his attorney filed in court and as far as we know it appears that Bo may have some sort of immunity deal. If Bo deviates from the truth, or if he doesn't hold up his end of the bargain he could lose that immunity. This means assuming Bo sticks to his original story he's going to have to implicate Ryan in court. He's going to have to step out from behind that gag order and make that statement public. This means Bo will have gone from helping Ryan dispose of Tara's body to incriminating his once roommate and ultimately having him convicted of murder. So now it's Bo word versus Ryan's word, and either one or both of them are lying.
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As much information as there was flying around Ocilla there was still very little we knew about what actually happened to Tara. The GBI claims Ryan Duke killed Tara with his hand. Late in the night of October 23, 2005. After unlawfully entering her home with the intent to commit a theft and then Bo Dukes comes into the picture and allegedly helps Ryan cover up the crime by disposing of Tara's body but that's pretty much all we know. How did Ryan get to Tara's house? Was he on foot? Did he drive? Was he driving a black truck? And how did Ryan manage to get Tara's body from her house all the way out to the pecan orchard in Fitzgerald completely undetected.
Still, so many unanswered questions, but recently some new information surfaced that supposedly came directly from the Grand Jury. If you remember all the members of the Grand Jury in this case were presented with the State's evidence against Ryan Duke but they were sworn to secrecy. But just last week something pretty interesting happened. Dusty Vassey who was originally on the grand jury decided to opt-out received a letter in the mail, as did all the other members of the Grand Jury. The letter read this:
Dear Mr. Vassey,
Circumstances following the April 12 meeting of the Grand Jury require inquiry into the means by which certain information presented at the Grand Jury was released publicly. We would like to meet with you prior to the next scheduled meeting of the Grand Jury. In that regard I have scheduled time to meet at the Irwin County courthouse at 9:00 a.m. on May 2, 2017, in order to accomplish this inquiry.
Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
So was there a leak from the Grand Jury, it certainly sounded like it. Dusty went to the courthouse on May 2 as instructed. I called to ask him about it.
Dusty Vassey: Essentially they were looking for a Grand Jury leak. They were looking for how information leaked from the Grand Jury became public knowledge. Waited for a little bit, they started calling names and pulling people out. By the time I got out there were only two left. They called me back to a room and there were two posters on Up and Vanished that they were asking about and I'm not going to say their names.
Payne Lindsey: Apparently two different people from the Up and Vanished discussion board had leaked information from the Grand Jury and the GBI wanted to know who.
Dusty Vassey: You know, they asked me for, what my screen name was on there, and of course everybody knows I'm [inaudible 00:31:07] and they asked me if I had any contact with those two people, or if I was familiar with them, and I, one of them sounded familiar and it turns out that's the one I had tried to reach out to. The other one I didn't, I didn't recognize the name but I probably had read some of their posts. You know, I didn't really have any information for what he was looking for, so when he gets to the end, he says, do you have any more information that pertinent to the investigation? And I said, well, maybe.
Payne Lindsey: Right before Dusty met with the GBI he released an article on his blog, at rationaltoafault.com in his article Dusty claimed to have talked to someone who received information from the Grand Jury, this was not the same person the GBI was looking for from the Up and Vanished discussion board. This was someone different. The GBI obviously asked him about this.
Dusty Vassey: They asked me for my source that I wrote about, which wasn't the one they were looking for. But I wouldn't given 'em the name, not even their screen name on Up and Vanished. They asked me like three times so I told them, you know, I've decided as a, you know to be a journalist and it's not, I mean, not even just as a journalist. If somebody's asked me to protect their word, you know, to keep their name confidential, you know, that's a human decency thing to me.
Um, you know, they said we're investigating a crime and it's serious but to me it's serious to keep your word to somebody too, so they asked me like three times and, I mean, they weren't cool with it. But they didn't push me too hard either or try to intimidate me or anything. Even I seen, I felt intimidated by the situation but they didn't overtly try to intimidate me or pressure me too hard. They just asked like three or four times maybe. You know they told me not to report on things that came from the Grand Jury and the GBI agent called the District Attorney in, they talked and then they called me back there again and told me I shouldn't report on things that may have come from the Grand Jury.
And I said I don't know that came from the Grand Jury and they said well, you were told it came from the Grand Jury as if that was the end of it or whatever, but I personally feel like I don't know what happened in the Grand Jury room 'cause I wasn't part of the deliberations. So what was ultimately of even excusing me from the Grand Jury if I can't report on something that didn't come, as far as I know, from the Grand Jury room.
Payne Lindsey: Dusty stuck to his guns and didn't reveal his source to the GBI or even me for that matter, the details about what information did exactly emerge from the Grand Jury leak are a little murky. But from my own source I've gathered it was said that Ryan Duke was inside Tara's home when she was asleep, when she woke up, he hit her. And the next morning he wrapped her body in a blanket and took her out to the orchard. If anything this made things seem even more confusing, but apparently the GBI felt that these statement had some merit.
So I found myself in a weird position now. We've come a real long way in learning the truth about what happened to Tara Grinstead. But we've been left with what feels like even more questions. And even if there is a trial it could be months or even years before we know the true. And still then the GBI could keep this case open indefinitely. All we can do is keep searching and hold onto the hope that one day the truth will finally come out.
Every story has an ending, sometimes they're puzzling or even unsatisfying. But in real life you can't control the narrative. Sometimes you only get bits and pieces of the truth.
Sheriff: A few days ago an individual came forward and reported that they had information into Tara's disappearance. Our case agent Jason Citdal was sent out to conduct an interview. Through these interviews enough probable cause was discovered so we could swear out an arrest warrant charging Ryan Alexander Duke with the murder of Tara Grinstead.
Payne Lindsey: But in Tara Grinstead's story we're going to get the whole truth.
Unknown Woman Source: When are you going to get your story straight, Payne?
You want the true story or do you want going to fit right in?
You want the truth. Here's the truth.
I found out on January 10, what happened to Tara.
Votes will be everything.
Payne Lindsey: This is Brooke, Bo Dukes girlfriend. ... She decided to come on record and set the story straight.
Brooke: It had just all been coming to a head. He knew that I was over some of his behaviors, he knew that I just over the relationship, and I told him, I was like, what is it? And I said, whatever it is, I said, you need to tell me. I said, you have you tell me what it is. But I made him tell me everything.
He showed me where Tara lived and just kind of drove me around. He then took me out to the orchard.
Payne Lindsey: This podcast has always been about getting to the truth. So with that being said this story isn't quite over yet.
Brooke: I mean it's just kind of a scary place. It's, It's very scary now to me. He had took me out there and then he showed me the path they had taken her down.
Payne Lindsey: Starting with Episode 19 on May 22, I'll be playing for you all my calls with Brooke in hopes of getting one step closer to providing the closure that Tara's family and this community deserves.