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monkalup
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monkalup
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May 16th, 2006, 7:16 pm #11

http://www.crimelibrary.com/news/origin ... ships.html

Relationships Could Provide Clues to Missing Woman's State of Mind



by Seamus McGraw

OCILLA, GA — (Crime Library) For months before her sudden and mysterious disappearance last week, Irwin County High School teacher and former beauty queen Tara Grinstead was troubled by two contentious relationships, one with her estranged long time boyfriend, and the other with a former student who had become almost obsessed with her, according to sources familiar with the young woman's history.

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In fact, in the days leading up to her disappearance, sources say, Grinstead was so overwrought that she missed school one day and left early on another.

Whether either of those relationships can shed light on Grinstead's whereabouts, or on her fate remains an open question. But investigators have said they are considering both as they try to determine what happened to Grinstead, a 30-year-old teacher from small town Hawkinsville Georgia, who was last seen after a local beauty pageant on Oct. 22.



Tara Grinstead


Investigators are also trying to determine the origin of a latex glove — the kind used by paramedics, doctors and police officers — on the front lawn of her home after she was reported missing.

So far, authorities are dealing with the young woman's disappearance as a missing person's case. It is possible sources say that Grinstead, who is said to have been "on an emotional roller coaster," over the breakup of her long term relationship, a relationship that she had hoped would lead to marriage, may have engineered her own disappearance, or taken some other drastic steps. But neither have investigators from the Ocilla Police and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation ruled out the possibility that Grinstead, a well-known and popular teacher, may have been the victim of foul play.

Former Student Interviewed

Among the relationships that have attracted the attention of authorities is the missing woman's dealings with a 20-year-old former student. The student had apparently become smitten with Grinstead, and on at least one occasion, was so aggressive that Grinstead called police when he showed up at her home and began banging on her door. The young man was charged with disorderly conduct. Authorities interviewed the man on Monday.

Friends and others familiar with the probe say that her sometimes-stormy relationship with long time boyfriend Marcus T. Harper may help authorities piece together Grinstead's state of mind before she disappeared.



Tara Grinstead

According to several sources who spoke on condition that they not be named, the couple began their relationship six years ago, and it was, in most respects, a classic small town romance. Harper, who could not be reached for comment for this story, had, according to friends of Grinstead, a fascination with law enforcement, and a driving desire to join the local police department, while Grinstead, a church going teetotaler, focused her attention on education and on the local beauty contest which she had once won.

In fact, according to several sources, Grinstead was deeply in love with Harper, he had a key to her home, a source said, and she had anticipated that someday they would marry. But that all changed after 9-11 when Harper left the police department and joined the U.S. Army, becoming a member of the Rangers, an elite branch of the special forces. He served, according to friends in both Iraq and Afghanistan. But during his stint in the military, and later as a contractor working in Iraq, the relationship changed.

According to one source, Harper became disenchanted with the relationship and, the source said, the couple began to bicker frequently. There was never any hint of violence between the pair, according to several sources, and in April, they finally broke up. By all accounts, Grinstead was deeply distressed by the breakup.

In fact, although she dated at least one other man, one friend told Crime Library that she remained deeply in love with Harper. In mid October one friend said, Grinstead had made efforts to reconnect with Harper, and when he resisted, she became so overwrought that she took a long drive and had to pull over and call for assistance to get home. The next day, uncharacteristically, she called in sick to school. A few days later, when a policeman from a neighboring community whom she had dated turned up at school, she left early. That too was unusual for the highly devoted and motivated ninth grade teacher.

More Questions Than Answers

It is unclear when Grinstead and Harper last saw each other, although according to several witnesses, he was in the town of Fitzgerald on the night of Oct. 22, which was the night of the annual Sweet Potato Festival and beauty pageant that Grinstead had attended. According to authorities, Grinstead had left the pageant and gone to have dinner at the home of the former local school superintendent and his family. She was last seen around 11 p.m.

She was reported missing Monday morning when she failed to turn up a school. Police responded to her home and found little out of place. The clothes she wore that night were found in the home, as was her cellular phone, which according to sources familiar with her habits, she never left behind. Authorities still don't know whether it is significant, but a clock had fallen to the floor and broken, and one of the meticulous young woman's lampshades was askew.



Tara Grinstead


Her car was parked outside — again, uncharacteristically it was unlocked, but her pocket book and keys were missing. Authorities also are perplexed by the discovery of a single latex glove on the front lawn.




Lauran

"If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth." The late, great Roberto Clemente.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
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May 16th, 2006, 7:18 pm #12

http://www.crimelibrary.com/news/origin ... icity.html

Tara Grinstead Publicity Mixed Blessing



By Marilyn Bardsley

OCILLA, GA (Crime Library) It's difficult to cover a story adequately without going to the epicenter of activity, so Monday afternoon I drove the 3-plus hours from Crime Library's headquarters in Savannah to Ocilla, Georgia, to meet the people of the community and interview individuals who were particularly close to Tara Grinstead, the gorgeous young history teacher who mysteriously disappeared sometime after having dinner with friends late Saturday night, Oct. 22.

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I arrived at the "Command Post" for the efforts to find Tara (which is actually the Irwin County Senior Citizen Center which has been temporarily pressed into service until Tara comes home) just in time to watch Court TV's Nancy Grace broadcast segment on Tara. The huge hall was completely packed with the scores of volunteers and rescue workers who methodically organized and executed the search. All eyes were on a big-screen TV that catapulted this small Georgia city into the national spotlight.



Tara and her dog, Dolly Madison


Tara disappeared either Oct 22 or 23, but her neighbors and police did not understand she was missing until Monday, Oct. 24 when she did not show up at the Irwin County high school where she taught 11th grade history. In the space of one week the story of her disappearance went from local to regional to national coverage on the same news shows that saw their ratings increase with stories like the Natalee Holloway case in Aruba.

The entire "Command Post" operation has been very well organized both in the search and publicity efforts. A huge van from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency stands outside with state-of-the-art mapping equipment so that the teams of helicopters, planes, ATVs, search volunteers, canines and horses are deployed in the most efficient manner. Inside are the many citizen volunteers who feed the searchers, arrange for media interviews, supply fliers, photos and a host of other important support services. And there are two local professional photographers, Jannis and Andy Paulk, who have created and updated www.findtara.com.

There is an excitement that comes with watching Anita Gattis, Tara's very attractive and articulate sister and local friends of Tara being interviewed on Court TV, MSNBC and Fox News night after night. The national publicity reinforces the determination of the volunteers and brings in additional resources from outside the immediate community. The reward fund has rocketed from $20,000 a few days ago to $80,000.

But there is also a downside.

If Tara doesn't come home soon either on her own volition or through the efforts of rescue workers or others with information about where she is, the media spotlight may bring unwelcome intrusion into the lives of people close to Tara.

Yesterday, when interviewing Tara's father, Billy Grimstead, and her stepmother, Connie, I could sense that they were alarmed at the prospect of every detail of Tara's life being dissected and displayed for review and analysis by millions of strangers.

Tara's former boyfriend of six or so years, Marcus T. Harper, has declined interviews on the advice of his lawyer, according to his father, Larry. Even Larry does not want to comment to the media about his son. I can't say that I blame them. There are bound to be questions asked that are very intrusive. It's almost a "no-win" situation. On the other hand, if the media wants information about a person they will find it somewhere flattering or unflattering.

In the case of Tara's disappearance and similar cases, the media attention "is a deal with the Devil" quoting one of Crime Library's authors, Seamus McGraw. "Families and friends [of the missing people] trade the most intimate nuggets of details about their loved ones' lives for the prospect of getting them back."


Lauran

"If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth." The late, great Roberto Clemente.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
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monkalup
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May 16th, 2006, 7:22 pm #13

http://www.crimelibrary.com/news/origin ... clues.html

Tara Grinstead on Emotional Roller Coaster



by Seamus McGraw

OCILLA, GA (Crime Library) — It's been nearly two weeks since Georgia high school teacher and former beauty queen Tara Grinstead mysteriously vanished, and despite a massive search effort, frustrated investigators and volunteers have still not found any significant clues to her whereabouts or her fate.


Tara Grinstead


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It's not for lack of trying.

Although authorities remain tightlipped about the probe, sources say that in the days since her disappearance, investigators have interviewed scores of people, including her estranged former boyfriend, Army veteran and former Ocilla police officer Marcus Harper. So has 20-year-old Anthony Vickers, a young man who reportedly nurtured a crush on Grinstead and was arrested earlier this year on a charge of disorderly conduct after banging repeatedly on the door of Grinstead's home. Heath Dykes, a police captain from a neighboring community described by one source close to Grinstead as a "friend of hers since they were kids" has been interviewed by investigators.

In a brief telephone interview with Crime Library, Dykes said he had last
seen Grinstead "weeks prior to her going missing." Dykes, who has been
cooperating with investigators, declined to comment further. "I've been a
close friend with her family and her for quite some time, we're from the
same home town. But I really can't make a lot of comment due to the ongoing
investigation. It really wouldn't be fair for me to make any comment that
would jeopardize the investigation....I just want her to be found."

Sources familiar with the probe say at least one of the men — Vickers — agreed to submit to a polygraph test. Authorities declined to discuss whether the interviews had yielded any useful information. None of the men could be reached for comment.

"We're interviewing everybody as you always would in a missing persons case," said John Bankhead, spokesman for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which has taken a major role in the search for Grinstead. "That relates specifically to people she might be seeing and others, so we've got all that covered."

Investigators are also said to be poring over Grinstead's phone records and have taken custody of her home computer and the hard drive of her computer at Irwin County High School, searching for any information.

While Bankhead declined to specifically discuss the steps investigators are taking, he did acknowledge, "we have leads." So far, those leads have not given them enough hard evidence to determine whether Grinstead vanished or whether she was the victim of foul play.

The bottom line, authorities say, is that they don't yet know whether a crime was committed. And the interviews are focused as much on determining Grinstead's state of mind at the time of her disappearance after a local beauty pageant on Oct. 22 as they are on eliciting hard information as to her whereabouts

A clearer picture has emerged in recent days of Tara Grinstead's state of mind. According to several sources, the young woman had been on "an emotional roller coaster" following the break up of her six-year relationship with Harper, a former police officer who joined the Army Rangers after 9-11 and later became an independent contractor working in Iraq.

Several sources familiar with Grinstead's personal life said though the couple bickered frequently toward the end of their courtship, Grinstead, who had long hoped that she and Harper would marry, remained deeply in love with him. "I do believe she still had feelings for Marcus," said one source who discussed the relationship with Grinstead several times before her disappearance, "but she saw that it was going nowhere." Others close to Tara Grinstead say she may have harbored hopes that they would reunite.

In fact, in mid-October, one friend said, Grinstead had made efforts to reconnect with Harper, and when he resisted, she became so overwrought that she took a long drive and had to pull over and call for assistance to get home. The next day, uncharacteristically, she called in sick to school. A few days later, Dykes, a policeman from nearby Perry and long-time friend of both Grinstead and her family, a confidant whom she had recently been dating turned up in Ocilla. She left school early. That too was unusual for the highly devoted and motivated eleventh-grade teacher

What's more, Grinstead was under additional pressure as she struggled to complete a round of studies so she could begin the process of obtaining her doctorate in education.

Grinstead was last seen on the night of Oct. 22, which was the night of the annual Sweet Potato Festival and beauty pageant that Grinstead had attended. According to authorities, Grinstead left the pageant and went to have dinner at the home of the former local school superintendent and his family. She was last seen around 11 p.m.

She was reported missing Monday morning when she failed to turn up at school. Police responded to her home and found little out of place. The clothes she wore that night were found in the home, as was her cellular phone, which according to sources familiar with her habits, she never left behind. Authorities still don't know whether it is significant, but a clock had fallen to the floor and broken, and one of the meticulous young woman's lampshades was askew.

But friends and others close to her say that despite the pressure there is little chance that she simply ran away of her own accord. Describing the 30-year-old as a "grounded, Christian woman," they say it is unthinkable that she would have simply walked away from her life, from her students who idolized her, and her family without a word. Furthermore, they note that nothing in her behavior in the days leading up to her disappearance indicated that she might be planning an escape. Just days before she vanished, a neighbor told the Crime Library, she purchased a significant amount of groceries. Known to be deeply devoted to her dog, Grinstead made no arrangements for its care, one person familiar with the probe said.

Equally disturbing is the fact that when Grinstead vanished, she left behind her car

which she uncharacteristically left unlocked as well as a significant amount of cash and all the clothes she owned except for what was on her back.

Without a car and with little cash, friends note, it is unlikely that Grinstead could have made it far. There is no easy access to public transportation, and it would have been difficult for Grinstead, who was well-known in the tiny rural Georgia community, to have slipped out of town unnoticed.

Still, investigators and volunteers continue to search the area for any sign of Grinstead. A reward for information about her whereabouts has reached $80,000 and is reportedly growing, and the community is rallying around her family. Later today, for example, cheerleaders in her hometown of Hawkinsville have scheduled a march to call attention to her case, and a moment of silent prayer is scheduled outside Taylor Regional Hospital, where one of her relatives practices medicine.

But privately, even those closest to Grinstead admit they are starting to lose hope that she will return home safely.

"I can't fathom that she would leave under those circumstances," said one person who had frequent heart-to-heart talks with Grinstead. "I can't see any possibility of that. I think they're just going to find her buried somewhere
Lauran

"If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth." The late, great Roberto Clemente.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
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May 16th, 2006, 7:27 pm #14

http://www.crimelibrary.com/news/origin ... riend.html

Private Agent brings new leads to Tara Grinstead Probe



By Steve Huff

Ocilla, GA (Crime Library) -Autumn comes slowly to Georgia. By the end of October, nights are cooling, but many trees still hold greedily onto their green. Sometime around Halloween, though, the first frost might fall. Soon thereafter, as November moves in and the daylight hours dwindle, leaves start to change. The further south you move, the less likely you are to see stark gold and crimson slashes in the trees because South Georgia is home to a great many pines, green year round.

The people searching in and around Ocilla, GA, for 30-year-old Tara Grinstead, a former beauty queen and well-liked high school teacher at Irwin County High School, had no time to notice the change of seasons. Saturday, November 5 ended with no sign of her, and set a grim milestone — the former Miss Tifton, GA, 1999, had been missing for two weeks.


News of the pretty history teacher's disappearance spread slowly at first. The Sunday after she vanished, October 23, her mother grew worried, and even called Tara's neighbors and asked them to check on her. Still — everyone has an off-day, even Tara Grinstead. In the months since she'd broken up with long-time boyfriend Marcus T. Harper, a former Ocilla, GA, police officer and Iraq veteran, Tara had experienced more ups and downs than those close to her had ever seen. After all, she'd been with Harper for 6 years.


After Harper's turn in the military, though, many around him seemed to feel something about him changed. Whatever the change was, it appeared to be the end of his relationship with Grinstead.


Tara Grinstead was devastated by the breakup. More than once she had an uncharacteristic emotional breakdown. Perry, GA, police captain Heath Dykes, a childhood friend, came to visit her at Irwin County, High.

By the close of Saturday, November 5, Tara's past problems with some of the men in her life were public knowledge in a way the very private Grinstead would never have wanted.

Much had been made in news reports on various cable networks of Anthony Vickers, the 20-year-old former student of Grinstead's who had allegedly developed a crush on her. At one point, Vickers had been arrested for pounding on the door to Grinstead's residence. Searches were done on property owned by the Vickers family in Wray, GA, on November 4, to no avail.

In a move perhaps considered curious by some, the Grinstead family also hired a private "agent" to assist in the search, who could be reached by a private, anonymous tip line. According to Tara's sister, Anita Gattis, the hired investigator had by November 4 discovered some interesting new clues about what may have happened to Tara Grinstead the night of October 22. Speaking with Albany, GA, NBC affiliate, WALB, Gattis said, "Her vehicle was unlocked. That's very uncharacteristic of Tara. She always locks it, always, always, always. There's some question about the position of the seats. She was short, 5'3". That's a big red flag..."


Some wondered about an unnamed juvenile who had once been in Grinstead's homeroom at Irwin County High. After the history teacher received a series of very threatening phone calls, a trace on her phone determined he was the source. It is unclear what measures were taken, but he was moved from her class.

Friday, November 4 probably saw one of the more dramatic developments to date in the ongoing search for Tara Grinstead — in an interview with CBS anchor for "The Early Show," Hannah Storm, Anita Gattis revealed that though Grinstead had sought to re-unite with former love Marcus Harper, they had fought prior to Tara's disappearance:

"They had had a very bad argument, I just found out, several days before she went missing, concerning an 18-year-old that he was dating. My sister did not think that (the 18-year-old's) parents would approve of a 30-year-old dating an 18-year-old. I'm told that she threatened to tell the parents, and they had a very heated argument over this."

Gattis also mentioned that Harper had hired a lawyer. When Marilyn Bardsley of Court TV's Crime Library tried to speak with Harper earlier in the week, his father said that he would not comment on the advice of a lawyer, and Harper's father declined to speak as well.

The mystery continued to unfold. The night of November 5, Atlanta NBC affiliate WXIA reported that the search in Irwin County would continue for at least 7 more days.

Though there were these curious developments in the second week of the search for Tara Grinstead, there were still no known sightings of the former Miss Tifton, nor any concrete evidence as to her fate. Only a hint came from a source close to the investigation as the third week began — a hint that the answer to the question of what happened to Tara Grinstead could be close:

Some things were found today that would lead you to believe that Tara could be found soon. I wish I could elaborate but I can't...

The same source expressed a concern that had troubled very few in the area before... that none of the men questioned by authorities about their relationship to Tara might be involved. That she might have fallen prey to a stranger, or someone with whom she had only a tangential acquaintance.

Perhaps in a small city like Ocilla, that fear embodied an idea of the worst sort of fate for a missing person — that they fell into the hands of a random stranger.

Last edited by monkalup on May 16th, 2006, 7:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Lauran

"If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth." The late, great Roberto Clemente.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
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May 16th, 2006, 7:34 pm #15

http://www.crimelibrary.com/news/origin ... inues.html

One Aspect of the Search for Tara Grinstead Has Been Completed, But the Probe Continues



by Seamus McGraw

OCILLA, GA (Crime Library) —



After nearly two weeks of efforts combing nearly 400,000 acres of fields, swamps and scrubland authorities in rural Irwin County have not found any sign of Tara Grinstead, although articles of clothing and jewelry have been found throughout the county and have been sent to Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).

The probe continues, and investigators still have hope of finding her or some clue to her fate.

"It's actually two separate items," said John Bankhead, a spokesman for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the state agency assisting in the search for Grinstead. "The Sheriff's Department was in charge of the search of the county...and yesterday they completed the last grid...and so the physical search...is completed. The missing person's investigation by the Ocilla Police Department with us assisting is continuing."

Family members say they will continue to search with volunteers, among them teachers, for Grinstead. A private investigator hired by Grinstead's family will also join in the search for the 30-year-old who vanished on the night of Oct. 22, the night of the annual Sweet Potato Festival and beauty pageant that Grinstead had attended. According to authorities, Grinstead left the pageant and went to have dinner at the home of the former local school superintendent and his family. She was last seen around 11 p.m.

Tara Grinstead was reported missing Monday morning when she failed to turn up at school. Police responded to her home and found little out of place. Her car was parked in the driveway, though the driver's seat seemed to have been pushed farther back than the diminutive Grinstead would have preferred. The clothes she wore that night were found in the home, buried under a pile of other clothing. Her cellular phone was also recovered at her home, though sources familiar with her habits, say it was highly unusual that she left it behind.

T-Shirt, Glove, Still Being Tested

So far, authorities have been unable to determine whether any of that is significant and investigators have turned up few other leads in the case. A women's t-shirt, emblazoned with the logo Irwin County Women's Softball and similar to several such garments owned by Grinstead have been sent to a crime lab for testing, though so far, authorities have not been able to link the shirt to Grinstead. "I don't know that there's any connection and it's doubtful that there may be," Bankhead told Crime Library. Bankhead declined to comment on a latex glove recovered in Grinstead's front yard on day one of the investigation. That glove has also been sent for testing, sources say, though so far, that too, has failed to yield any conclusive evidence about its origin.

Meanwhile, investigators continue to quiz those closest to Grinstead hoping to learn new details that could help locate the woman or at least help them determine what happened to the well-liked 11th grade history teacher. Among those quizzed is her ex boyfriend, Marcus Harper, a former Ocilla police officer and Army veteran of the Afghan and Iraq campaigns who now serves as an independent contractor in Iraq. Authorities have also interviewed Capt. Heath Dykes, a Perry police officer and long time friend and confidant both of Grinstead and her family, as well as Anthony Vickers, a 20 year old former student who was once arrested after pounding on Grinstead's door.

All of the men have been cooperating with authorities and none have been named as suspects. Although her family and many of her friends believe she was abducted, with no significant clues to Grinstead's whereabouts or condition, authorities don't even know whether a crime has been committed. But that hasn't dulled the buzzing speculation on the Internet and on cable television news channels, speculation that has begun to turn this once close knit community into a hotbed of suspicion where gossip and innuendo — often inaccurate — are frequently traded as fact.

Innuendo and Gossip Complicate Probe

It was that rampant speculation, sources say, that prompted attorney Thomas Pajadas to allow his client, Marcus Harper, to be interviewed earlier this week by Fox News commentator Greta Van Sustern, a decision that might be considered risky in the superheated atmosphere of the Grinstead probe but which Pajadas seems to have believed was necessary to counter what he took to be unfounded speculation and misinformation circulating about his client.

In the interview, Harper — who was shot in profile reportedly in part as a safety precaution because of his job as an independent contractor who has worked in Iraq — challenged Internet reports that he and Grinstead had argued publicly just days before her disappearance, an argument which allegedly centered on women Harper was said to have been seeing. He said that he had last seen Grinstead about 9 a.m. on Oct. 14 when the woman, who by all accounts was deeply distressed over their breakup — turned up at his house. Harper said that Grinstead had threatened to commit suicide, though after a short interruption in the taping, Harper added that Grinstead had returned later that day and asked him for a hug, apparently indicating that it would be the last time.

Sources close to Grinstead have acknowledged that the young woman was "on an emotional roller coaster," following the break up, but say they saw no evidence that she was suicidal, noting that on Oct. 14, Grinstead had left Harper's house, spent some time in a tanning bed and then went for a pleasant visit with relatives.

Authorities investigating the case say the Internet — where speculation sometimes ossifies into a facsimile of fact — may be complicating their investigation somewhat. But they also acknowledge that they continue to mine those Web logs and Internet sites for potential leads and to identify and locate people they can speak with including friends, associates and paramours of those people they've already interviewed.
Last edited by monkalup on April 10th, 2009, 2:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
Lauran

"If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth." The late, great Roberto Clemente.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
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May 16th, 2006, 7:36 pm #16

http://www.crimelibrary.com/news/origin ... teers.html

New Phase in Search for Tara Grinstead



By Marilyn Bardsley

Ocilla, GA (Crime Library) - Tara Grinstead's family and the Ocilla community was shocked when recent headlines suggested that the search for Tara had been called off. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The reality is that the intensive 2-week initial effort to search the 358 square miles of Irwin County involving 50 law enforcement and safety agencies using helicopters, planes, ATVs, horses, etc. was completed.


However, a number of focused search activities are on-going. Volunteers are signing up for searches on weekends and law enforcement is searching based upon the specific leads it receives.

A considerable amount of attention has been focused on a latex glove the kind used in medical, forensic and many other applications found on Tara Grinstead's front lawn shortly after she had gone missing and before the forensic experts from Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) had examined the premises. The latex glove appeared fresh and its presence was difficult to explain. Dr. Larry Gattis, Tara's brother-in-law, believes that GBI will make an announcement on the glove in coming days.



Tara Grinstead's family has hired a private "agent." Connie Grinstead, Tara's stepmother, explained to Court TV's Crime Library that the private agent was hired "to help us in the search for Tara. We need all the help we can get." To dispel any suggestion that the family was not happy with the efforts of law enforcement, she added, "GBI is doing a wonderful job."

Anonymous tips can be placed to the private agent by calling 1-912-386-2564. A reward of $80,000 is being offered.

One recent rumor that is being run to ground is that an unidentified man had called Tara some 22 times in one day and had professed his love repeatedly. It is unclear at this point whether any such individual exists, but if he does, law enforcement is sure to want to speak to him.



Tara Grinstead, 30, is a stunningly attractive, gifted and dedicated 11th grade history teacher at the IrwinCountyHigh School. She lives in Ocilla, GA, with her German Shepard Dolly Madison and her cat Herman Tallmadge. On Saturday, Oct. 22, she attended a beauty pageant and then had dinner with some friends. She returned home shortly after 11 p.m. and has not been heard from since.

Tips can also be made to the Ocilla Police Department, 1-220-468-TIPS (8477)


Lauran

"If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth." The late, great Roberto Clemente.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
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May 16th, 2006, 7:44 pm #17

http://www.crimelibrary.com/news/origin ... pects.html

Search for Tara Grinstead Goes Beyond County, Known Friends



by Seamus McGraw

OCILLA, GA (Crime Library) —


Update: Nov. 19:

Beginning shortly, Texas Equusearch, the internationally known non-profit search and recovery team that recently wrapped up its search for Natalee Holloway in Aruba, will begin combing Ocilla and its surroundings. Team members who began arriving in Ocilla Friday, volunteered to join the search for Tara, a company spokesman said Friday.

—————

They're far from giving up hope, they say.

But as the friends and family of Tara Grinstead conclude the third week of their so far fruitless search for the missing high school teacher and beauty queen, they are slowly coming to the realization that the ultimate answer to the mystery of her disappearance may lay far outside the boundaries of the rural Georgia county she called home.


A source familiar with the law enforcement efforts and the family's private endeavors to find her told Crime Library that while everyone involved in the search remains committed to seeing it through to the end, they are becoming less optimistic that the missing woman will be found alive.

But they do plan to broaden their search, not just for Tara or physical evidence that might shed light on her fate, but also to identify people with whom she might have come in contact during her regular travels to and from her graduate studies and elsewhere in the region.

Tara, who would have turned 31 this week her birthday was marked by a subdued gathering of friends, students and co-workers at her home vanished Oct. 22, the night of the annual Sweet Potato Festival and beauty pageant that Grinstead had attended. According to authorities, Grinstead left the pageant and went to have dinner at the home of the former local school superintendent and his family. She was last seen around 11 p.m.

She was reported missing Monday morning when she failed to turn up at school. Police responded to her home and found little out of place. Her car was parked in the driveway, though the driver's seat seemed to have been pushed farther back than the diminutive Grinstead would have preferred. The clothes she wore that night were found in the home, buried under a pile of other clothing. Her cellular phone was also recovered at her home, though sources familiar with her habits, say it was highly unusual that she left it behind.

In the days immediately following her disappearance, the local authorities together with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation launched a massive manhunt, sending platoons of cops and volunteers out to scour the roughly 400,000 acres of Irwin County. Two weeks later, after every quadrant of the county had been searched, the official search was called off, though Tara's family and volunteers have continued to run their own search.

In the days since, there have been moments when the searchers believed they were close to finding an answer. Several days ago, for example, when a remote house outside of Ocilla burned to the ground, searchers thought that their worst fears might be realized. "The rumor was out that Tara had been found in the burned house," a source said. "They took cadaver dogs out there and they thought they were on the trail, they kept going to one spot in the house, and GBI went through the house, shovel by shovel, but didn't findanything."

As it turned out, the source said, "cadaver dogs are trained to identify body fluids, even long after they evaporated and (authorities concluded) that there had been a baby in the house at one time."

While authorities say they still have no evidence to suggest that Tara was the victim of foul play the probe officially remains a missing person's case there has been rampant speculation on the Net that Tara might have been abducted. Among others in her life, three men became the focus of much of the speculation on the Internet; Marcus Harper, the former Army Ranger who she dated for six years before an emotionally charged breakup last spring, Anthony Vickers, a 20-year-old former student who had once been arrested after pounding on her door, and Capt. Heath Dykes, a married police officer from nearby Perry with whom had enjoyed a close relationship. All have been cooperating with authorities.


Privately, sources familiar with the investigation say they are increasingly convinced that none of the men have any significant information about Tara's disappearance, and that it is even more unlikely that any of them had anything to do with it.

Challenging a report in the National Enquirer that "a married police officer," had called Tara some 20 times before her disappearance, the source said it would make sense that Dykes, who was privy to the emotional distress Tara had been suffering as a result of her breakup, would have repeatedly to reach the woman he regarded as a close friend and confident. In fact, though Tara was not officially reported missing until Monday the 24, several people had noticed her absence on Sunday and some, Dykes among them, had telephoned her home looking for her.

That same source said they also believe that it would have been impossible for Harper, who has provided a detailed and verified account of his time during the hours when Tara is believed to have vanished, to have had a hand in her disappearance.


And in strange twist, Vickers has also apparently found his way out from under the cloud of suspicion. According to the source, the young man received a frantic telephone call from a woman the other day. The woman was so emotional that Vickers couldn't understand her, and thought it might have been Tara. He immediately notified police who traced the call and found that it had been a wrong number dialed by an inarticulate and emotionally overwrought stranger. The coincidence was so bizarre the source said, and Vickers was so certain that the woman on the other of the phone was Tara, that the source and others are convinced that it could not possibly have been a ploy.


Lauran

"If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth." The late, great Roberto Clemente.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
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monkalup
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monkalup
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May 16th, 2006, 7:47 pm #18

http://www.crimelibrary.com/news/origin ... _less.html

One Aspect of the Search for Tara Grinstead Has Been Completed, But the Probe Continues



by Seamus McGraw

OCILLA, GA (Crime Library) —


For the past few days, members of Tara Grinstead's family have been harboring a secret fantasy that maybe, just maybe if they hope and pray hard enough, the 30-year-old high school teacher and former beauty queen might just throw open the door on Thanksgiving Day, sidle up to the dinner table and the month-long nightmare will be over.

It would , of course, take a miracle for that to happen and miracles are in short supply these days in rural Irwin County, a community still rocked by the young woman's disappearance on Oct. 22.


Absent a miracle, the search for the missing woman continues, authorities and family members say. Equusearch, the Texas-based search and rescue operation has just begun its detailed work, going over much of the same ground that an army of searchers combed inch by inch before the official search was concluded two weeks ago. Volunteers continue their hunt for Tara as well, and a reward for information about her whereabouts or her fate has now reached $90,000.

Officials from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation have said they too remain on the case, which is still officially classified as a missing person's investigation, though they maintain that there have been no major developments in the case.

There are some people close to Tara, however, who have begun to question whether the GBI and the other agencies involved in the investigation are pursuing the case as aggressively as they once did.

In the days immediately following Tara's disappearance, they note, investigators quickly identified and interviewed most if not all of the major players in her life in and around Ocilla. They talked to her close companions and confidants, including Capt. Heath Dykes, a Perry police officer who Tara often turned to in times of stress. They interviewed Anthony Vickers, a love-struck 20-year-old former student who was arrested months before her disappearance after banging repeatedly on the teacher's door. And they talked at length with her ex-boyfriend, Marcus Harper, a former local cop and Army Ranger. The end of that six-year relationship left Tara emotionally shattered, and Harper had even suggested that Tara had contemplated suicide, though her family and close friends discount that.



Marcus Harper and Tara


Authorities even trolled the Internet, which continue to be rife with speculation, rumor and innuendo about Tara's personal life to locate other potential witnesses, among them young women who had dated Harper Tara had been heard fuming about at least one of Harper's 18-year-old companions. But after all the interviews, authorities maintained, that they were no closer to discovering Tara's fate.

Privately, some of those closest to Tara wonder whether the investigation is winding down.

Stones Left Unturned



Tara Grinstead


As evidence they point to the fact that even now, more than four weeks after the investigation began, investigators have still not interviewed professors, classmates, and others at the university in Tifton where Tara was completing her studies in advance of beginning studies for her doctorate in education. As one source familiar with the probe put it, "GBI hadn't been down there andwhy would they not?"

Though authorities maintain their investigation is ongoing, some close to Tara fret that "they may have already decided this is no crime, this is a runaway, and if they've decided that, they may not be beating the bushes that much."

John Bankhead, a GBI spokesman, declined Tuesday to discuss specific elements of the investigation. But in similar missing person's cases, investigators sometimes decide that interviews in far-flung locations would be unlikely to yield significant new evidence, Bankhead said. It's also possible, he suggested, that investigators might still decide to focus on Tifton and other locales she might have frequented.

"We'll let the facts take us where we're going," he said. "At this point, we don't even know of she's alive or dead."

Tara's supporters contend that Tifton could prove a rich vein for information.

At the very least interviews with fellow students, professors and others who had contact with Tara outside of the tightly constricted community in Ocilla might be able to shed more light on her state of mind, one source familiar with the probe said. They may also be able to suggest other leads, the source said. Perhaps, the source suggests, there was another man in her life. Maybe she had developed other relationships in Tifton and Valdosta where she also studied that might offer a clue. So far, those avenues of investigation have not been explored, the source said.

And that means that despite all the energy that has been exerted, both by the cops and the public, the question of what happened to Tara remains an open question.

Early on, of course, there was some speculation that the young woman who vanished from her home after returning home from the annual Sweet Potato festival and dinner with friends, may have committed suicide.

Even now, those closest to Tara discount that possibility. They note that she left no note, and that authorities arriving at her house Monday morning found little out of place. Her car was parked in the driveway, though the driver's seat seemed to have been pushed farther back than the diminutive Grinstead would have preferred. The clothes she wore that night were found in the home, buried under a pile of other clothing. Her cellular phone was also recovered at her home, though source familiar with her habits, say it was highly unusual that she left it behind.

"I mean have you ever heard of anybody going to such lengths to get away cleanly?" the source asked. "If I'm going to kill myself why would I care about making it look like I disappeared?"

What's more the statistics argue against that possibility. Women who attempt suicide most often do it at home and use pills or other comparatively clean methods, and in the vast of majority of cases, unlike men, they fail on the first attempt. There is no indication that Tara had pills, or that she had ever tried suicide before.

But in the absence of any evidence of suicide, and with no hard evidence to suggest that she was abducted or worse, other options must be considered. For weeks now, some close to Tara have been pressing her friends and others who knew her about the possibility that she might have changed her appearance and simply taken off to start a new life, perhaps alone, or perhaps in the company of someone else.

Given Tara's history, that seems unlikely, those closest to her say. "Everybody I question I ask them the same thing; is there any possibility that she might go off to pursue a different existence somewhere?" the source said. "I keep getting the same answer; 'no way'."

"She's never colored her hair, the make up's been the same for years, she's always absolutely perfect," the source said. "I mean she is meticulouseven on a bad day she looks like she just stepped out of Vogue magazine."



Tara Grinstead


But as the other theories about her fate fall by the wayside, the source said, Tara's loved ones are carving out room in their hearts for the remote possibility that she did engineer her own disappearance. "That can't be excluded," the source said. Certainly, for that to have been the case, there would have to have been a sea change in Tara, the source said, "a real breakdown, worse than anything she had ever had before."

Tragically, in the weeks since her disappearance, the normally reserved people of Ocilla, including those close to Tara, have begun for the first time to talk openly about just how distraught the young woman was. "Obviously, she was heading into something and there was lots of warning signs," the source said. "I'm beginning to get pissed off at the people who saw themand didn't tell anybody."

But given those upheavals in Tara's life, the pressure of her studies and her job, the emotional torment of coping with the end of her long time relationship with Harper, given her displeasure of his choice of at least one young woman to replace her, and the possibility that there might have been other personal struggles that have not yet come to light, Tara's die-hard searchers are no longer willing to dismiss the possibility that she simply ran away.

"I have to include that as possibility," the source said. "Ignore that and I might be ignoring a possibility of finding her and getting her backwhen you touch all the horses in the forest, you know, you start looking for zebras."


Lauran

"If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth." The late, great Roberto Clemente.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
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monkalup
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May 16th, 2006, 7:52 pm #19

http://www.crimelibrary.com/news/origin ... earch.html

New Search Planned for Tara Grinstead



by Seamus McGraw

OCILLA, GA (Crime Library) — Authorities, backed up by the high-tech equipment of the Texas-based search operation EquuSearch are preparing to make one last comprehensive foray through the back woods of Irwin County looking for any trace of missing school teacher and former beauty queen Tara Grinstead.

Over the past two weeks, members of the team have done an aerial survey of the most remote areas of the county, and after breaking for the Thanksgiving holiday, plan to launch a massive search effort, comparable and perhaps larger than the intense volunteer driven effort that concluded last month, said Irwin County Deputy Sheriff Allen Morgan.

"We want to find some areas of interest, areas that we want to search again," Morgan said. "We're going to have a major search...we just want to make sure the areas are being covered thoroughly. "We want to be able to tell the family that once we're through this county again that it's clear, that she's not here."

The search is scheduled for Dec. 10 and 11, Morgan said.

The EquuSearch team, which has garnered national headlines for, among other things, its recent work in Aruba searching for missing Alabama teen Natalee Holloway, has targeted specific areas of the county to canvass during the two-day hunt for Grinstead. Specifically, they have been looking at rugged backlands and deeply wooded areas, Morgan said, and that is where the volunteers will be deployed.

We're going to check these thick wooded areas, places maybe you couldn't check good riding a four-wheeler or on horseback. We're going to walk them," Morgan said.

The fact that authorities are holding off their search for nearly two weeks may be an indication that they hold out little hope of finding the 30-year-old high school teacher, at least not alive.

But family members still hope that searchers will find some clue about what happened to her after she vanished the night of Oct. 22 after the annual sweet potato beauty pageant, and just a week before the annual sweet potato festival.

So far, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, together with the Ocilla police and the Irwin County Sheriff's Department, have turned up few leads, and the disappearance remains officially a missing person case.

In the weeks since she vanished, authorities have interviewed dozens of people. Among them are her former longtime boyfriend, Marcus Harper; Heath Dykes, a Perry police officer who had long been close to Grinstead; and Anthony Vickers, a 20-year-old former student whose crush on the teacher had apparently made him belligerent enough to bang on her door one night. He was charged with a disorderly persons offense in that incident, but authorities have said that all three have cooperated with investigators and none has been named as a suspect in her disappearance.

More Men in Tara's Life

In fact, authorities have not ruled out the possibility that she might have engineered her own disappearance.

In the meantime, those closest to Tara have been conducting investigations of their own, and have identified three other men who dated Grinstead in the months after her emotionally charged breakup with Harper. They are hoping to meet with them to discuss the young woman's state of mind in the weeks before she vanished.

It was not immediately clear whether authorities have interviewed the three men.


Lauran

"If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth." The late, great Roberto Clemente.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
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May 16th, 2006, 7:56 pm #20

http://www.crimelibrary.com/news/origin ... hting.html

Tara Sightings & New Timing Questions



by Seamus McGraw

OCILLA, GA (Crime Library) — Family and friends of missing high school teacher and beauty queen Tara Grinstead have been on an emotional roller coaster this week. It's not just because of the heightened grief they feel as the holidays approach, but because twice in the past week, they've had their hopes lifted by possible sightings of the missing woman, only to find that the reports are at best inconclusive and at worst, just plain wrong.

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"It is tough," said one family member who has spent countless hours searching for the young woman who vanished Oct. 22, after spending the day helping young contestants prepare for an annual beauty pageant and the evening with friends.

The first possible Tara sighting came last weekend when a truck driver told authorities that he had seen a woman at a Coneco truck stop 30 miles outside of Birmingham, Alabama who seemed to match the description of the 30-year-old high school teacher.

According to law enforcement sources, the driver told police that the anonymous young woman had struck up a conversation with him and asked to use his cellular phone — Tara had uncharacteristically left her cell phone behind at her home when she vanished.


John Bankhead, a spokesman for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Tuesday that his agency had contacted authorities in Alabama, and they had investigated but found little reason for hope. By the time Alabama authorities arrived, Bankhead said, the woman had vanished. "We've got a number of these sightings, obviously, and I don't know why this one got more publicity than the next one," Bankhead said. "It's probably because this one had more concrete information."

In this case, the driver was able to provide a detailed description both of the woman and of his encounter with her. GBI has since sent fliers and additional information about Tara's case to Alabama, but authorities there believe that the woman described by the truck driver may be another woman, a local, who had recently been released from jail.

"I need to leave myself open," Bankhead said, "but I think they know who this truck driver spoke to," and she was not a missing beauty queen.

Meanwhile, authorities are also probing at least one more potential sighting. Details on that incident are sketchy, but according to sources familiar with the investigation, authorities have received a report that a woman who seemed to resemble Tarawas spotted sobbing in the passenger seat of a dark colored SUV. Her hands were reportedly covered with some kind of garment, leading some to suggest that it was possible that she was shackled. Authorities are investigating the report, but so far, it has yielded no solid information and there is little hope that it will. Even so, a private investigator hired by the family and the GBI have been probing the report.

Authorities have still not determined what happened to Tara and her case officially remains a missing person's investigation. So far, authorities have found no evidence to suggest that she was kidnapped, and they have not ruled out the possibility that the young woman engineered her own disappearance or worse. She was, by all accounts, emotionally devastated by the breakup of a long time relationship, who was actively seeking a romantic involvement to replace it, and who was under immense pressure as she worked to begin her doctoral studies in education.

But there is reportedly at least one new wrinkle in the case, which if it pans out, could challenge the accepted timeline of the case.

Investigators have been talking to at least two witnesses, one a teenaged boy and the other a neighbor of Tara's who has since moved, who have independently offered suggestions that the young woman may have vanished later than previously thought, a source told Crime Library.

Authorities have so far believed that that Tara vanished no later than Sunday morning. But one of the new witnesses, a source said, claimed that they had seen Tara's car leave her carport Sunday morning and return Sunday afternoon. And the teenaged boy has reportedly told investigators that he saw Tara driving through town on Sunday afternoon.

That conflicts with the statements of other witnesses who have insisted that Tara's car had not moved all day Sunday, although when investigators examined it, they found that the drivers seat had been moved further back than would have been comfortable for the diminutive school teacher.

And as investigators and family members review the timeline of Grinstead's disappearance, they acknowledge that one piece of potential evidence, which had been thought to be fraught with possible significance, has no significance to the case at all.

Early reports had placed great significance on an alarm clock found beneath Tara's bed after she was reported missing. The clock was six hours off, and there had been widespread speculation that perhaps the clock had somehow been stopped, perhaps during a struggle in the room.

But it turns out, according to a source familiar with the case, that the clock was actually a keepsake, Tara's childhood alarm clock. It had not kept proper time in years and had long been six hours off, but Tara had apparently kept it for sentimental reasons.
Last edited by monkalup on April 10th, 2009, 2:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
Lauran

"If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth." The late, great Roberto Clemente.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
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