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Missing Woman: Tara Grinstead - GA - 10/22/2005


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#81 Denise

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 04:46 PM

http://www.alliednew..._302113918.html

Service marks anniversary of teacher's disappearance

From staff reports
THE TIFTON GAZETTE (TIFTON, Ga.)

OCILLA, Ga.
A dogged determination to find missing teacher Tara Grinstead was evident Saturday night among the soft candlelight and heartfelt words spoken at a memorial service for the former beauty queen.

The old Irwin County High School football stadium in Ocilla was the site of the service marking the second anniversary of Grinsteads disappearance. A small group of family and friends attended.

Grinstead vanished from her home on Oct. 22, 2005 after attending the Georgia Sweet Potato Pageant in Fitzgerald, where she had assisted some of the contestants with their hair and makeup. When she didnt show up for work on Monday, co-workers at Irwin County High School called the Ocilla Police Department.

At the stadium Saturday, luminaries on the field and a display of photographs of Grinstead with friends and family members lined one of the bleachers in the stadium. Helium-filled balloons were released during the ceremony. Friends distributed Justice for Tara T-shirts with the 229-468-0667 tip line number on the front and a Bible verse, Matthew 10:26 (Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.) printed on the back. Buttons with photographs of Grinstead with Santa Claus and the www.findtara.com Web site were available at the ceremony.

The case has garnered national media attention. Hundreds of people joined in the search after Grinsteads disappearance and scoured the county looking for her. Family members, friends and other volunteers who have searched for clues to her disappearance want to keep Grinsteads case in the spotlight.

If we dont, Im scared shell be raked under the rug and forgotten, said Nelda Walker, director of the Tara Command Center at 121 N. Cherry St. in downtown Ocilla.

Walker, who taught school with Grinstead, said tips continue to come into the center.

People will come by and pick up flyers and take them with them on out-of-town trips, Walker said.

Walker said that solving the case of Grinsteads disappearance remains a top priority with local and state law enforcement agencies and that the Find Tara group of volunteers are determined as ever.

We arent going to stop searching until we get her home, Walker said. We have to give the family closure.

Grinsteads mother, Faye Grinstead, said it is a daily struggle to keep going since her daughter disappeared. The only thing that keeps her going, she said, is the hope that her daughter is alive.

Its the hardest thing Ive ever gone through in my entire life, Grinstead said. Its indescribable.

Its just her being gone for whatever reason. I cant see her or be with her. Shes just gone from me.

Grinstead said she has a strong support system in friends and family.

Grinsteads sister, Anita Gattis, spoke at the memorial. Gattis spoke of how her sister has missed two of her birthdays, two Christmases, two Easters and two Mothers Days with her family. Gattis added that her sister had missed the deaths of two of her uncles, Faye Grinsteads brothers, who have died since she disappeared. She said that she and others are determined to find the answers to her sisters disappearance.

They may not be the answers we want, but we will find the answers, Gattis said.

Gattis said that it still sometimes seems as if she has just seen her sister and talked with her, even though Tara has been missing for two years.

The night Grinstead went missing, local police found her car in the driveway and unlocked. In her bedroom, a bedside lamp was turned over and broken. When asked if she believed Grinstead knew her abductor, Walker said she knew Grinstead well enough to know that she would not have let a stranger inside her home.

If she didnt know them, she would not have opened the door, Walker said. The struggle wasnt at the door; it was in the back of the house.


#82 K-9 Handler

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 09:25 PM

Hello everyone,

Denise invited me from C&J to this great forum. I would like to share a little about who I am and want I do on this case. I have been involved in Tara case for almost 2 years now. I have been on every search since Feb 06. I am also the Director of Public Relations/Search and Rescue with the Tara Center. I am currently a K-9 Handler with a search and rescue group in central Georgia and have been doing that for over a year now. I have previous K-9 handling experiance as well. Please know that we are still very active in searching for Tara and we still get tips even after 2 years. If anyone has any questions please feel free to ask. Thank you all for the care and love that you all share for the missing and their families.

Sincerely,
K-9 Handler

#83 Kelly

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 09:58 PM

Hello everyone,

Denise invited me from C&J to this great forum. I would like to share a little about who I am and want I do on this case. I have been involved in Tara case for almost 2 years now. I have been on every search since Feb 06. I am also the Director of Public Relations/Search and Rescue with the Tara Center. I am currently a K-9 Handler with a search and rescue group in central Georgia and have been doing that for over a year now. I have previous K-9 handling experiance as well. Please know that we are still very active in searching for Tara and we still get tips even after 2 years. If anyone has any questions please feel free to ask. Thank you all for the care and love that you all share for the missing and their families.

Sincerely,
K-9 Handler


Hello, and welcome!

Thank you for helping Tara's family. I am glad to hear that the case is still active with tips coming in. I'm sure that helps the family to feel some hope they will get answers.

I'm not sure what type of questions you are soliciting, but do keep in mind that public case discussion is not a part of the functionality of this forum. It is for news and support only, so that it remains as a safe harbor for the families of the missing.

Please let me know if you have any questions about the forum or our organization.

Regards,

Kelly Murphy, Mother of Missing Jason Jolkowski
President and Founder,
Project Jason
www.projectjason.org

Please help us in our mission as a 501 c 3 nonprofit: http://projectjason....y-campaign.html

If you have seen any of our missing persons, please call the law enforcement agency listed on the post. All missing persons are loved by someone, and their families deserve to find the answers they seek in regards to the disappearance.


#84 Denise

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 04:49 PM

http://www.walb.com/...92&nav=menu37_3
Tara Grinstead Still Not Forgotten

Updated: Dec 5, 2007 06:13 PM CST
November 27, 2007

Hawkinsville - - It's a mystery that grabbed headlines two years ago - the disappearance of popular Ocilla school teacher Tara Grinstead. Long after the national spotlight stopped shining on the case, Grinstead's family and friends continue to remember and honor her. Tuesday, they held a special ceremony in her hometown.

All you have to do is say the name Tara here in South Georgia and everyone knows who you're referring to. It's probably why so many people came out in her honor.

Candles in their hands represent the light that burns in their hearts.

"I've known Tara since she was a child, she lived next door to my family," says Pam Griffin.

That light brought them all here.

"We hope one day we will find Tara."

Friends, family, and supporters gathered at the Pulaski County Courthouse for a tree dedication. It's planted just outside of the courthouse.

"We did a maple tree. It has its prettiest colors in the fall. The fall was Tara's very favorite time of year," says Tara's older sister, Anita Gattis.

She is overwhelmed the city of Hawkinsville came out to support.

"It's great to have something in Hawkinsville, where she is from, where she was raised, where she had spent her life, and where she called home."

A minister from home stopped by to share her experiences with the beloved teacher. Like the time Tara wrote him from Ocilla where she was working. She asked him a question.

"If it would be possible if I could send her a box of offering envelopes that she might be able to send her tithe to the church regularly. It just struck me. I don't have members calling me to ask for offering envelopes," says Minister Don McClung.

He says it shows her dedication to help others. Part of the reason they planted a tree. To have something tangible to remember her by, something to keep their light shining.

"I think it's a wonderful thing for the community," Griffin said.

Some hefty reward money is being offered in the search to find her. $100,000 for any information leading to an arrest. Another $100,000 for her safe return.

Supporters continue to operate a web site with updates and information about the search to find Tara.

#85 Linda

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Posted 28 December 2007 - 06:51 PM

http://www.charleypr...stead_tara.html

Tara Faye Grinstead

Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Posted ImagePosted Image
Posted ImagePosted Image
Above Images: Grinstead, circa 2005

Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

Missing Since: October 22, 2005 from Ocilla, Georgia
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date of Birth: November 14, 1974
Age: 30 years old
Height and Weight: 5'3, 100 - 110 pounds

Distinguishing Characteristics:
Caucasian female. Brown hair, brown eyes. Grinstead has a small tan-colored birthmark on the front of her shoulder. Her ears and navel are pierced.
Clothing/Jewelry Description: Possibly black sweatpants and gray New Balance sneakers.

Details of Disappearance

Grinstead was last seen at approximately 11:00 p.m. on October 22, 2005 at an acquaintance's residence in the vicinity of the 700 block of west 3rd Street in Ocilla, Georgia. There was a Miss Sweet Potato pageant and Grinstead, a former beauty queen, was helping others with their makeup. She left the residence and evidently arrived at her home in the vicinity of street Alder Street and west Park Street in Ocilla. She has not been heard from since.

Grinstead missed church services the following day, which is atypical of her behavior. She was employed as a history teacher at Irwin County High School at the time of her disappearance, and was reported missing on October 24 after she failed to show up for work and did not notify anyone she would be absent; this behavior is uncharacteristic of her. Authorities checked Grinstead's house and found it locked. Her car, the clothes she was last seen wearing, and her cellular phone were at her home, as were her cat and dog. The only items missing were her purse, keys, and the earrings she was last seen wearing. A single latex glove was found on the front lawn. Grinstead's bedside alarm clock had fallen on the floor and was broken, some beads were scattered across the floor, one of her bedposts was damaged and her bedroom lampshade was askew, but there were no other indications that a struggle had taken place. Her car was found unlocked and there was cash inside. Her loved ones stated it was uncharacteristic of her to not lock her car. The car seats were also reportedly adjusted to fit a person taller than Grinstead.

At the time of her disappearance, Grinstead lived alone and was unmarried. She had previously ended a six-year relationship with her boyfriend. Grinstead's ex-boyfriend was questioned in her case, as was a former student of hers who had been arrested for harassing her. Both maintained their innocence in her disappearance.

It is uncharacteristic of Grinstead to leave home without informing anyone of her whereabouts and without making arrangements for the welfare of her pets. Her loved ones believe she may have been abducted, but little evidence is available as to her fate.

Investigating Agency
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Ocilla Police Department
229-468-7494
OR
229-468-8477



#86 Denise

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Posted 12 January 2008 - 11:48 AM

http://www.albanyher.../20080112n6.htm

Suspect to be questioned about Grinstead case

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is seeking a link between an accused murderer and a missing school teacher.

J.D. SUMNER 

PERRY - Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents say they want to talk with police in Dawson County to see if accused murderer Gary Hilton had any connection to the disappearance of an Ocilla school teacher two years ago, despite differences in the cases.

GBI Special-Agent-in-Charge Gary Rothwell said Friday that his office is interested in speaking with agents working the murder of 24-year-old Meredith Emerson, who was found dead after going for a hike in the North Georgia mountains. They say they're doubtful that the suspect, Gary Michael Hilton, had any involvement.

The 61-year-old Hilton has been charged with malice murder and is being held in Dawson County. Leon County, Fla., authorities said Friday they intend to charge Hilton with the murder of 46-year-old Cheryl Hodges Dunlap, who was found dead in the Apalachicola National Forest.

Hilton may also be charged in connection with the deaths of a couple in North Carolina.

But Rothwell said that investigators are eager to chat with agents in Buford about any possible link between Hilton and missing Ocilla teacher Tara Grinstead, who vanished in October 2005 after a beauty pageant.

"The agent in charge of the investigation up there is very familiar with the Grinstead investigation, and so we're interested in talking with them about the case,"Rothwell said. “But initial indications, at least the published reports, would suggest that what happened to the hiker and what happened in the Grinstead case are different in many ways and probably aren't connected."

Hilton, a former contractor in the Atlanta area, pointed police to Emerson's body, which was found decapitated in a wooded area in Dawson County. Preliminary autopsy results show that Emerson was bludgeoned to death.

Without going into detail, Rothwell said that the methods used to kidnap and kill Emerson and Dunlap don't mesh with the facts of the Grinstead investigation.

While the two victims Hilton is suspected of murdering were apparently abducted and killed in wooded areas, Grinstead was last seen at her home in Ocilla after a local beauty pageant.

"Right now, every law enforcement agency in the three-state area with open missing persons investigations are calling for information about him," Rothwell said. "We're just one of the ones in line."

Rothwell said the investigation is still open in the disappearance of the former beauty queen and said that it will be until she's found.

"I'm not retiring until we find her," Rothwell said.

#87 Denise

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 04:50 PM

http://www.sundaypap...06/Default.aspx

TARA GRINSTEAD: ANOTHER MISSING GA. WOMAN'S CASE REMAINS UNSOLVED

By Josh Clark

The murder of Meredith Emerson, the disappearance of Cayle Bywater and other, possibly related cases involving missing women have renewed interest in the case of another missing Georgia woman. Tara Grinstead, a beauty pageant winner who earned her Masters degree and was working on her doctorate while she taught history at Irwin County High, went missing from her home in Ocilla the night of Oct. 22, 2005.

Her ex-boyfriend, Iraq War veteran and former Ocilla police officer Marcus Harper, and several other people have been investigated in the disappearance.

After Harper and Grinstead broke up, she apparently found that Harper, then 30, was dating an 18-year-old. Her sister, Anita Gattis, told the nation during a 'CBS Early Show' interview days after her sister's disappearance that she had been told that Harper and Grinstead had a â"very heated argument." 

Suspicion around Marcus Harper continued to expand after a tip came in that on the night Grinstead disappeared, a truck had been seen speeding down Green Road, a rural route located south of Ocilla. In and of itself, this information would have hardly been useful, but Marcus Harper's mother lived on Green Road, and the tip was apparently sound enough to prompt a search party, which began combing a 100 acre area along the road in March of 2006.    

Things went a bit awry, however, after Harper's mother, the sole landowner along the Green Road area who had not given permission to have her land searched, called the sheriff, complaining that she was being harassed by searchers. The sheriff came to the Harper property and reportedly threatened to lock up at least one member of the search party if they didn't stay away from Mrs. Harper's land.

Harper has an alibi for his whereabouts around the time Tara Grinstead went missing. But he wasn't the only person Grinstead knew who was living under a cloud of suspicion down in tiny, close-knit Irwin County following the woman's disappearance. At least two of her students had tried to create relationships with Grinstead at Irwin County High. Anthony Vickers, a former student of Grinstead's, had been arrested after he was found at her house one night. He was investigated, and his parents' property searched, but nothing was found. Another student, who remained unnamed, had been removed from her class after police found he was responsible for a series of threatening phone calls to Grinstead.

The trail appears to have grown cold over the last two years, but Tara Grinstead's family continues to hope for her safe return. For more information, visit www.findtara.com. If you have any information on the whereabouts of Tara Grinstead, please call the Georgia Bureau of Investigation at 478-987-4545.



#88 Kelly

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 09:11 AM

We have been informed that Tara's mother has passed away. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Kelly Murphy, Mother of Missing Jason Jolkowski
President and Founder,
Project Jason
www.projectjason.org

Please help us in our mission as a 501 c 3 nonprofit: http://projectjason....y-campaign.html

If you have seen any of our missing persons, please call the law enforcement agency listed on the post. All missing persons are loved by someone, and their families deserve to find the answers they seek in regards to the disappearance.


#89 Denise

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 06:04 PM

I am so sad that she passed away without finding Tara.  May she rest in peace.

#90 Denise

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Posted 01 July 2008 - 07:55 PM

http://www.macon.com...ory/393675.html

GBI releases new information in Tara Grinstead case

By Amy Leigh Womack

PERRY --The Georgia Bureau of Investigation wants to know whose DNA and fingerprint are on a glove found near the home of an Ocilla woman missing for nearly three years.

The GBI released the new evidence today in the Tara Grinstead case, hoping it could lead to an answer of where the young teacher has been since her disappearance sometime after 11 p.m. Oct. 22, 2005.

The new evidence was aired tonight on CBS's "48 Hours" news magazine TV show.

Although it has previously been reported that police found the glove outside Grinstead's house, Gary Rothwell, special agent at the GBI's Perry office, said today investigators withheld information about the DNA for investigative purposes. But when the GBI was contacted by "48 Hours" about producing a TV segment about Grinstead's disappearance, agents saw an opportunity to generate phone calls from people with new information about the case.

At the time of her disappearance, the 30-year-old former beauty queen, a Hawkinsville native, had moved to Ocilla as a student teacher. After falling in love with the town, Grinstead accepted a full-time job teaching high school history.

When she didn't show up for work on a Monday morning in October 2005, co-workers called police. They found her cell phone inside the house where she lived alone. Her car was outside, unlocked. Her purse and keys were gone.

Police officers found the latex glove in Grinstead's yard, just a stone's throw from her front stoop, Rothwell said.

But Grinstead was never found.

Rothwell did not identify as a suspect the person whose DNA was found in the glove, but he said that person could help lead to a break in the case.

"We believe it is a critical element to solving the case," Rothwell said.

Rothwell said the DNA has been analyzed and agents know it's a man's DNA. But they haven't identified the man.

Over the course of the investigation, he said, agents have compared the DNA to dozens of men who knew Grinstead or who were associated with her.

"None of them matched," Rothwell said.

The DNA also has been entered into Georgia and national databases, but still no matches.

Agents also recovered a fingerprint from the glove, but Rothwell said it isn't of sufficient quality to enter into a database for comparison.

The "48 Hours" show also examined the similar disappearance of an Orlando, Fla., woman three months after Grinstead vanished.

Like Grinstead, Jennifer Kesse disappeared with no sign of forced entry into her home or a struggle. Only Kesse's keys and purse were missing.

Orlando investigators have uncovered grainy surveillance footage showing an unidentified person existing Kesse's car. Authorities say that person could be Kesse's abductor.

Rothwell said early in the investigation, GBI agents spoke with Orlando officers and shared information, but there's no obvious connection between the two cases.

"There's nothing concrete," he said. "But it was worth looking at."

Even though it's been nearly three years since Grinstead disappeared, Rothwell said the case is being actively investigated on a daily basis as agents reinterview witnesses and reassess evidence in hopes of finding a breakthrough.

Anyone with information about Grinstead's disappearance is asked to call the GBI at (478) 987-4545, (229) 468-8477 or (800) 567-8477.

There is a $100,000 reward for her safe return. There is another $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whomever is responsible for her disappearance..

"If there's somebody with information, we want that information," Rothwell said. "We don't want them to assume we know something. We might not know."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

http://www.macon.com...ory/392672.html

Disappearance of Tara Grinstead to be on '48 Hours'

By Amy Leigh Womack

New information regarding the mysterious disappearance of a Hawkinsville native is supposed to be featured on "48 Hours" on CBS tonight.

Tara Grinstead, a 30-year-old schoolteacher in Irwin County, disappeared from the house where she lived alone sometime after 11 p.m. Oct. 22, 2005.

When Ocilla police searched her single-story home, they found the clothes she wore that night and her cell phone. Her car was outside, unlocked.

Grinstead's purse and keys were gone. Her pets were inside, unharmed.

Police said there was no clear sign of a struggle, although investigators found a broken lamp inside her bedroom and her alarm clock under a bed.

A latex glove was found outside.

There were no signs of forced entry.

Two years later, Gary Rothwell, special agent in charge of the GBI's Perry office, confirmed the GBI has shared new information in the case with the news show.

Rothwell declined to comment on the new information until after the show.

A statement released by "48 Hours" hints that the show also will feature the disappearance of an Orlando woman from her home.

Jennifer Kesse vanished in a similar manner to Grinstead and just three months later.

Investigators have uncovered a clue - grainy surveillance footage showing an unidentified person who authorities believe could be Kesse's abductor, exiting her car, according to the statement.

Authorities ask anyone with information on Grinstead's disappearance to call the GBI at (478) 987-4545, (229) 468-8477 or (800) 567-8477.

There is a $100,000 reward for her safe return. There is another $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whomever is responsible for her disappearance.

The show will air at 9 p.m. tonight.


----------------------------------------------------------

http://www.tiftongaz..._179194729.html

Tara Grinstead story to appear on '48 Hours'

by Angie Thompson/senior reporter

TIFTON - "Nightmarish" and "confounding' are words used to describe the October 2005 disappearance of teacher and former beauty queen Tara Grinstead from her home. Those who watch the 9 p.m. Tuesday airing of CBS's "48 Hours' segment "Stolen Beauty' could learn about new evidence, and investigators hope more leads come in from viewers.

"The story involving Tara has moved all of us greatly,' said CBS "48 Hours' correspondent Peter Van Zant. "Tara's disappearance is nightmarish for all of us."

Grinstead vanished from her Ocilla home on Oct. 22, 2005 after attending the Georgia Sweet Potato Pageant in nearby Fitzgerald, where she had assisted some of the contestants with their hair and makeup. When she didn't show up for work on Monday, co-workers at Irwin County High School called the Ocilla Police Department. There were no signs of forced entry into Grinstead's home, no sign of a struggle and only her pocketbook and keys were missing. A latex glove was found in her front yard.

The case has garnered national attention and hundreds of people joined in the search for Grinstead. Family, friends, co-workers and law enforcement scoured the county trying to find any clue they could to solve the mystery and give family and friends some answers. A $100,000 reward is being offered for Grinstead's safe return and another $100,000 for information leading to arrest/conviction of the person or people responsible.

Van Zant said the CBS crew working on Tuesday's "Stolen Beauty" segment got involved with the case and began shooting video a month after Grinstead's disappearance. At first, he said, people in Ocilla were wary of being "used and exploited" in the media, but they began to realize that we were very serious about this and dedicating weeks of time and hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce the show.

Van Zant said that he and the CBS crew were impressed with what a tight-knit community Ocilla is and how deeply the community cares about the case.

"We are hoping it (the show) will do some good and lead to some answers in the case," Van Zant said.

Before her disappearance, Grinstead was a teacher at Irwin County High School. She was a former Miss Tifton and had competed in the Miss Georgia pageant as well.

"Tara is a classic beauty and someone you related to right away," Van Zant said.

GBI Special Agent Gary Rothwell said the case has been "confounding" because Grinstead was well-known and a very active member of the community.

"It's a lot of information to cipher through," Rothwell said.

Rothwell said that television shows like "48 Hours" can be valuable to investigations and hopes someone will come forward with information that they have been withholding because they were either afraid or thought that the information wouldn't be taken seriously.

"There's no way to know if it is important if they don't come forward," Rothwell said in a telephone interview Friday from his Perry office.

Three months after Grinstead's disappearance, Jennifer Kesse vanished from her Orlando, Fla., home. She was also a young, beautiful and successful woman and there was no sign of forced entry and no sign of a struggle. Her keys and purse were also missing. Authorities have grainy surveillance footage showing an unidentified shadowy figure who they believe could be Kesse's abductor emerging from her car that was parked at a nearby apartment complex.

Van Zant said the similarities between the cases brought investigators on the Grinstead and Kesse cases together and the CBS crew followed Georgia investigators to Florida. An e-mail from CBS claims that investigators uncovered a clue that they believe is essential to solving the cases, but neither Van Zant nor Rothwell would comment on that subject.

#91 Denise

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Posted 01 July 2008 - 08:01 PM

http://www.cbsnews.c...in4219397.shtml

Stolen Beauty
A Young Teacher And A Financial Analyst Vanish. Are Their Cases Linked?


July 1, 2008

(CBS) Tara Grinstead, an 11th grade history teacher in Ocilla, Ga., disappeared without a trace in October 2005. Three months later, another young woman, Jennifer Kesse, also vanished in Orlando, Fla.

There were some similarities in the cases, leading investigators to wonder: are these disappearances somehow linked?

Student Dana Wilder remembers feeling a sense of dread when she heard an announcement in school that teacher Tara Grinstead should report to the office.

Dana was sitting in class at Irwin County High School on that Monday, Oct. 24, 2005. "I knew something was up then. I knew Tara would just not come to school. I think it got all the student's minds worried," Dana remembers.

Besides being a beloved teacher, 30-year-old Tara was also a mentor and friend to Dana, especially when it came to Tara's passion for beauty pageants.

Just two days earlier, Dana had been at Tara's house with some other girls to get ready for a big local event in this small town, the "Miss Georgia Sweet Potato" pageant. "She was in a great mood. Which of course, whenever she did hair and makeup for any pageant girls she was in a great mood," Dana remembers.

Tara's stepmother Connie and father Billy say Tara fell in love with pageants as a teenager. Besides winning crowns, the pageant victories also fulfilled another goal for Tara: money for school.

But none of her successes meant more to Tara than winning the title of Miss Tifton in 1999. Best friend Maria Hulett says the title meant Tara could now fulfill her lifelong dream of competing in the Miss Georgia pageant. "It was, for her, more than a dream come true. It was the chance for her to be really proud of herself," Maria remembers.

Tara didn't place in the competition, but was thrilled when her friend Osjha Anderson won. Her friends say after the Miss Georgia pageant, Tara refocused on her career in education. "She wanted to be a principal. She was well on her way," Osjha says.

By the fall of 2005, she was teaching by day and taking classes by night; she applied for a doctoral program. Tara was even filling in as an assistant principal from time to time.

Everything seemed to be going so well, until that October morning.

By the time Police Chief Billy Hancock arrived at Tara's house, nobody had seen or heard from Tara for 34 hours. "When I arrived the car was parked in the carport. You could actually see it as you were pulling up," he remembers.

Hancock says the fact she had gone missing but her car was still there was "certainly a red flag."

But maybe most disturbing was a latex glove, found laying in the front yard.

Hancock noticed that inside the house everything appeared to be normal. "I walked through the house. No apparent sign of struggle, no forced entry," he remembers. "Her cell phone was in the charger by the nightstand. Her pocketbook and keys were missing."

Asked what his gut feeling was as he walked through that house, Hancock tells Van Sant, "I did have kind of a gut feeling that something was wrong."

At 11 a.m., Chief Hancock called Gary Rothwell, a special agent at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Rothwell's initial impression? "It appeared that Tara may have left on her own. However, we had a glove, a latex glove that we couldn't explain. That glove indicates foul play to us."

He was also intrigued by something else found at Tara's house: a business card found wedged in the front door of Tara's home.

Investigators sealed the house, and took Tara’s car and the glove in for processing. Then they started reconstructing her last known movements.

On the last day she was seen, Saturday, October 22, Tara spent the day with Dana and the pageant girls at home, then went to the Miss Georgia Sweet Potato pageant that evening.

At 8 p.m., she stopped by the house of a neighbor and stayed there for a half hour before going to a cookout a few blocks from her home.

According to Rothwell, she remained at the cookout until about 11 p.m., when she left to go home. Rothwell says they found the clothes she wore at the cookout on the floor of her bedroom, leading investigators to believe that she had come home from the cookout.

But from that moment on, he says they "have no idea" what happened to her.

Hours after Tara was reported missing, Irwin County students and teachers sprang into action. "We made flyers and at 11 o’clock at night people wanted to go put these out everywhere. We all wanted Tara back. And we were willing to do whatever we could," Dana remembers.

Volunteers and local authorities joined in a massive search for the missing teacher. But in a place the size of Irwin County, finding Tara was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

So far, GBI investigator Gary Rothwell has had very few clues in the case. "There was no sign of a struggle, no sign of forced entry, there's no windows broken," he explains.

Tara's car was still in the carport, but her purse and keys were missing. It looked to investigators like Tara may have left with someone she knew. "No one in close proximity to her residence heard any screaming that night. So, if you accept the premise that she left in a vehicle. Yes, it would be likely she left in one that was driven by someone she knew," Rothwell says.

Investigators put Tara's life under the microscope and soon discovered it was not as simple as they expected. "One of the things that made this case so complicated is that she did have several romantic relationships that occurred in relative proximity to one another," Rothwell says.

Investigators first focused on her ex-boyfriend, former cop and Army Ranger Marcus Harper. "We learned that Tara and Marcus had had a relationship lasting approximately six years," Rothwell says.

It had been a stormy romance. "Their relationship had been troubled for the last two years. And during that time they both had dated other people. But Tara was absolutely in love with Marcus," Connie says.

But just two weeks before she disappeared, Marcus told Tara their relationship was over for good. Connie says Tara was "absolutely devastated."

Marcus told journalist and TV host Greta Van Susteren the last time he saw Tara was a week before she vanished when she begged him not to leave her. "She approached me crying, she was very irrational, and she told me that if she found out I was dating someone, she would commit suicide," he said.

But Osjha says this doesn't sound like the Tara she knew. "She's never said anything remotely similar to me ever any time."

Rothwell doesn't believe Tara committed suicide either. "The circumstances just don't fit a suicide. And given the search for her, we believe she would have been found by now. It's very difficult to hide your own body," he points out.

On the last night Tara was seen, Marcus says he was at a bar with friends, then rode around town until dawn with a former partner on the local police force. "Mr. Harper provided an alibi and it was essentially substantiated," Rothwell says.

And there was no history of violence in their relationship.

But Tara had been the target of a violent outburst before, ironically by one of her former students. In March 2005, Anthony Vickers, a former student of Tara's, tried to force his way into her house.

Friends say Tara had taken Vickers under her wing. "He was just kind of a troubled kid and that would be her nature," Osjha explains.

But he may have become obsessed with her. "She talked about the fact that he would call and he would rely on her and she knew it was getting too much for her. I just kept telling her, 'You know Tara, something's wrong,'" Maria remembers.

Could Anthony Vickers have been involved in Tara's disappearance? Rothwell says investigators looked into that possibility extensively but that at this point "can't draw a connection."

And remember the business card investigators had found at Tara's front door? "It was certainly a piece of evidence that we’re interested in. I mean it's a business card stuck in the door of a person that’s now missing," Rothwell says.

It turns out the card was left by a police officer from a nearby town, a married man. A neighbor told 48 Hours he was a frequent visitor to Tara's house.

"He had been there apparently Sunday night looking for or trying to get her to the door. And he said he did not get an answer," Connie tells Van Sant.

The man also left almost two dozen messages on Tara's answering machine the weekend she disappeared.

Asked if Tara had put herself in a position in her life where she may have created jealousies or given someone a motive to murder her, Maria says, "I think the fact that she was beautiful and other people paid attention to her would obviously make some people jealous. I think she was afraid of the possibility of someone hurting her from being angry at her, having reactions to her dating people."

None of the men the GBI were most interested in would agree to speak to 48 Hours on camera; all deny any involvement in Tara's disappearance. The GBI says although they all have alibis, nobody's alibi covers the full 34-hour period during which Tara vanished. So for now, no one has been ruled out.

For two and a half years, the GBI has continued to investigate anyone and everyone Tara knew. "We've collected DNA samples from every person she might have had a romantic relationship with, interviewed them," Rothwell says.

And Tara's family and friends remain frustrated. "I believe there is a piece of the puzzle that is missing. And when that piece of information comes in, it will lead us to the answers of what happened to Tara," Connie hopes.

Ever since Tara disappeared, the GBI has refused to name any suspects in the case, and has remained tight-lipped about any evidence they have, until now: Rothwell says that latex glove could be a significant piece of evidence.

Just days after Tara went missing, Rothwell sent the glove to the GBI crime lab in Atlanta. Trace evidence specialist Larry Peterson wasn't optimistic. "It's my experience from past cases that latex gloves like this had a relatively low rate of success," he explains.

But in this case, investigators caught a lucky break: against all odds, investigators had recovered DNA-male profile DNA-from the glove.

And besides the DNA, Rothwell says they also got a fingerprint. But when they compared the DNA and fingerprint to the men in Tara's life, there was no match.

There was no match nationally, either. Still, investigators can't eliminate any of the men in Tara's life, since they might have had an accomplice. "We always have to consider the possibility of a third party. Either someone was involved in getting a third party to harm Tara or that Tara was harmed by accident and a third party was used to help cover up the crime," Rothwell says.

For two and a half years the GBI kept the DNA evidence secret, hoping they would find a match. But now they’re hoping someone from the 48 Hours audience can help solve this case.

"We hope there's someone who knows something, has a person that they know was involved in this case and was withholding that information for fear that we were not going to be able to prove it. Well we'll be able to prove it. We want one of those persons, if they have that type of information, to come forward," Rothwell says.

As astonishing as it seems that someone could disappear without a trace, and that a stranger might be involved, shortly after Tara disappeared, the GBI learned of another case of a beautiful young woman who vanished, this one in Orlando, Fla., exactly three months after Tara disappeared. The similarities were eerie.

Asked if there could be a link between the cases, Rothwell says, "Possibly. It’s something we really, really need to consider."

Even as a child, people were drawn to Jennifer Kesse, says her mother Joyce. "She walked into a room and people noticed her. She was just so vibrant and really full of life," Joyce remembers.

By the time she was in her twenties, her father Drew says Jennifer had blossomed into a beautiful young lady, and her career as a financial analyst was taking off.

Her family and friends say she was very practical when it came to safety; she regularly used what she referred to as "safe phone calls." "She would always be on the phone with somebody walking from the store to her car, her car to home," Joyce explains.

By January 2006, 24-year-old Jennifer seemed to have everything going for her: she had bought a brand new condo in Orlando, had been promoted at work, and there was a new man in her life.

Rob Allen, a 32-year-old Englishman, lived two and a half hours away in Fort Lauderdale. The couple had been dating for a year and saw each other every other weekend. "We'd communicate four, five, six, seven times a day, every day. She became my best friend," Rob says.

In January 2006, Rob and Jennifer took a vacation to St. Croix. "It was just perfect," Rob remembers. "A lotta cocktails. A lotta sun. A lotta beach. We had an awesome time. We joked we should just stay there and just not come back to the real world."

But the real world was about to intervene: they flew back from vacation on Sunday, Jan. 22, and Jennifer stayed at Rob's Sunday night. "She'd left my house at six Monday morning and then drove straight to Orlando and had a full day at work," Rob says.

That evening, Jennifer spoke to Rob again. It would be the last time they would talk.

The first clue something was wrong came the next morning when Jennifer failed to show up for a meeting at work. Her co-workers at Westgate Resorts couldn't reach her on her cell phone or at home, so they called her parents.

Joyce called the manager of Jen's apartment complex. He went to her unit - Jennifer wasn't there, and neither was her car.

Jennifer's parents and her brother Logan raced the two hours from their home in Bradenton, Fla., to Jen's condo. Asked what he saw when he went inside, Logan tells Van Sant, "Clean apartment. Shower was wet. Blow dryer out. Clothes on her bed. Other than that, the apartment was completely normal."

Just like in Tara's case, there were no signs of forced entry, and no signs of a struggle. Jen's luggage was still in the front hall, untouched. But her purse, her keys and the cell phone, which she always kept with her, were missing.

Detectives checked for activity on her ATM card and "pinged" her phone to pinpoint its location. There was no response. At 7 p.m., police Sergeant Roger Brennan says they entered her into the system as a missing person and issued an alert for both Jennifer and her car.

"The key thing we were trying to do at this point, starting from 8 on is to find Jennifer's car, Jennifer, her phone, her property. So we started with her car," Brennan recalls.

Police soon learned when Jennifer was on vacation, her brother Logan and some of his buddies from out of town had stayed in her condo. One of his friends left a cell phone there. Could Jen have left her condo after she hung up with Rob at 10 p.m. to try to mail the cell phone?

Less than an hour after Jennifer was declared "missing," Sgt. Brennan started searching the streets of Orlando, looking for Jen and her car.

Once police learned of Jennifer's concern for safety, they realized she wouldn't have gone out at night alone to mail that cell phone. They now believed she must have been abducted the next morning.

"Her condo was just as if she'd gotten ready for work and took off out the door for work," says Orlando homicide Detective Joel Wright. "And since her door was locked and there were no signs of forced entry, a good deduction would be that she did make it at least out the door."

The next day, detectives interviewed family members and boyfriend Rob. "They started asking me if you'd had an argument with her, or if you'd had disagreements or you'd done something to her. I mean, it was kinda nerve-wracking," he remembers.

But nothing raised suspicions, and Rob's alibi checked out. He was at work two and a half hours away in Fort Lauderdale that day and his cell phone was pinging down there.

"I would consider Rob not a suspect," Wright says.

Meanwhile, huge numbers of volunteers and police were looking everywhere for Jennifer.

Two days after Jennifer’s disappearance, investigators got a major break in the case when her car was spotted at a housing complex just a mile from her condo.

Luckily, there were security cameras nearby. When police checked the tape, they watched as someone pulled her Chevy Malibu into the lot. Then, a ghostly figure emerges (video) from Jennifer’s car and calmly strolls away as if on an afternoon walk.

This person is the main suspect in Jennifer's abduction, and should be easy to identify. But because the security cameras only take a photo every three seconds, his face is obscured on the surveillance footage.

Investigators can't even say for sure if the person is a man or a woman - all they know is it's someone 5'3" to 5'5" tall.

"Now the clothing looks to be maybe someone who is a painter or some type of worker," Wright remarks, commenting on the clothing.

The inside of Jennifer's car provided more frustration for investigators and her family: there was no sign of a struggle, no blood, no identifiable fingerprints except for Jennifer's.

But there was one item found that bothered detectives: a DVD player.

That DVD player hadn't been stolen. Asked what that tells him, Sgt. Brennan says, "It didn’t appear that it was a robbery. Didn’t appear that it was a car theft. It didn't appear that it was a carjacking."

Bloodhounds were called in to track any scent from Jennifer’s car. Brennan says one of those dogs essentially tracked back to her complex.

Could Jennifer's abductor be someone who lived in her own complex? Detectives discovered there was extensive remodeling going on, including some work in Jennifer’s own unit, and Jennifer had complained to her family that some of the workers were making her feel uncomfortable.

Asked what she said, Joyce says, "They would stop and stare. …Leering stares is what she would say."

"Were these guys mostly day workers?" Van Sant asks.

"It was large groups of crews that had traveled together. And many of them were staying right there in several of the units in the complex itself," Wright says.

In fact, of the 447 units in Jennifer’s complex, only 250 were occupied at the time, and workers were allowed to live in the empty units. But Brennan says tracing these people is "extremely difficult."

Police could not search all of the units in Jennifer's complex because many were privately owned. They also couldn't count on getting any reliable forensic evidence from Jennifer's condo. "Anywhere from a half dozen to two dozen people were in the condo over the course of the first 24 hours," Brennan says, explaining that that contaminates the crime scene.

At this point, the best clue in Jennifer’s disappearance remained that grainy video.

Two years after Jennifer's disappearance, her family and friends are still looking for her, and Orlando police are still looking for the person in that surveillance video. "We were hoping that somebody would come forward and say 'Oh yeah, that’s my boyfriend' or 'That’s my cousin.' But that didn’t happen," Brennan says.

Detectives have followed up on more than 1,000 tips in all 50 states, but so far nothing.

For Jennifer’s best friend Lauren and her boyfriend Rob, it’s like living in a constant state of limbo. "You don’t know if you can grieve because you haven’t truly lost them and you can’t heal because you haven’t found them. You wake up every day hoping that’s going to be the day you’ll get an answer," Lauren says.

"My life’s on pause right now. It’s like as the time progresses, it doesn’t get any easier," Rob says.

Losing Jen has left Rob wondering about a life they could have had, and wrestling with things left unsaid. Asked if he had fallen in love with her, Rob says, "I never admitted that to her but that’s something that I struggle with. Just the fact that those three simple words, that I never got to the chance to say that before this horrific event happened."

In Ocilla, Ga., the unsolved case of Tara's disappearance now hinges on finding a DNA match to that glove found outside her home.

"The one thing this case is not is cold," says GBI investigator Gary Rothwell, who says the Grinstead case file has grown to become the agency's biggest active investigation.

Rothwell - who believes this case will be solved - and his team are hoping for a breakthrough. They are in Orlando, Fla., meeting for the first time with detectives in the Jennifer Kesse case.

"We’re comparing notes, looking to see if anyone in their investigation pops up in our investigation," Roger Brennan comments.

But after three hours behind closed doors, it's clear they aren't getting the answers they were hoping for. "Their case appears much more likely to involve a stranger abduction, whereas we can't make that conclusion," Rothwell explains.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Two beautiful, beloved women - for everyone touched by the disappearance of Tara and Jennifer, hope now rests on a DNA match, or someone, somewhere, who will have the courage to share what they know with police.

"Someone has to do the right thing?" Van Sant asks Jennifer's father Drew.

"Yes, and it’s time. It’s been time. And it’s time right now," he says.

"I really want to see justice take place for Tara. I want the person who's responsible he held accountable for it," Tara's stepmother Connie says.

"We'll never give up," Jennifer's mother Joyce vows. "We will never give up the hope of finding her and bringing her home."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tara Grinstead Case: If you have any information about Tara's disappearance, please contact the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Tipline: 1-800-597-TIPS.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jennifer Kesse Case: If you have any information about Jennifer's disappearance, please contact CrimeLine.

Tipline: 1-800-423-TIPS.


#92 Denise

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Posted 03 July 2008 - 08:20 AM

http://www.macon.com...ory/393808.html

TV show, DNA search put focus back on missing Ocilla woman

By Amy Leigh Womack - awomack@macon.com

PERRY --The Georgia Bureau of Investigation wants to know whose DNA and fingerprint are on a glove found near the home of an Ocilla woman missing for nearly three years.

The GBI released new evidence Tuesday in the Tara Grinstead case, hoping it could lead to an answer of where the young teacher has been since her disappearance sometime after 11 p.m. Oct. 22, 2005.

The new evidence was aired Tuesday night on CBS's "48 Hours" news magazine TV show.

Although it has previously been reported that police found the glove outside Grinstead's house, Gary Rothwell, special agent at the GBI's Perry office, said investigators withheld information about the DNA for investigative purposes. But when the GBI was contacted by "48 Hours" about producing a TV segment concerning Grinstead's disappearance, agents saw an opportunity to generate phone calls from people with new information about the case.

At the time of her disappearance, the 30-year-old former beauty queen, a Hawkinsville native, had moved to Ocilla as a student teacher. After falling in love with the town, Grinstead accepted a full-time job teaching high school history.

When she didn't show up for work on a Monday morning in October 2005, co-workers called police. They found her cell phone inside the house where she lived alone. Her car was outside, unlocked. Her purse and keys were gone.

Police officers found the latex glove in Grinstead's yard, just a stone's throw from her front stoop, Rothwell said.

But Grinstead never was found.

Rothwell did not identify as a suspect the person whose DNA was found in the glove, but he said that person could help lead to a break in the case.

"We believe it is a critical element to solving the case," Rothwell said.

Rothwell said the DNA has been analyzed and agents know it's a man's DNA. But they haven't identified the man.

During the course of the investigation, he said, agents have compared the DNA to dozens of men who knew Grinstead or who were associated with her.

"None of them matched," Rothwell said.

The DNA also has been entered into Georgia and national databases, but still no match has been found.

Agents also recovered a fingerprint from the glove, but Rothwell said it isn't of sufficient quality to enter into a database for comparison.

"It is one of the most extensive investigations undertaken by the GBI," Rothwell said during an interview for the TV program.

The "48 Hours" show also examined the similar disappearance of an Orlando, Fla., woman three months after Grinstead vanished.

Like Grinstead, Jennifer Kesse disappeared with no sign of forced entry into her home or a struggle. Only Kesse's keys and purse were missing.

Orlando investigators have uncovered grainy surveillance footage showing an unidentified person exiting Kesse's car. Authorities say that person could be Kesse's abductor.

Rothwell said early in the investigation GBI agents spoke with Orlando officers and shared information, but there's no obvious connection between the two cases.

"There's nothing concrete," he said. "But it was worth looking at."

Even though it's been nearly three years since Grinstead disappeared, Rothwell said the case is being actively investigated on a daily basis as agents reinterview witnesses and reassess evidence in hopes of finding a breakthrough.

"If there's somebody with information, we want that information," Rothwell said. "We don't want them to assume we know something. We might not know."


If you have information
Anyone with information about Tara Grinstead's disappearance is asked to call the GBI at (478) 987-4545, (229) 468-8477 or (800) 567-8477.

There is a $100,000 reward for her safe return. There is another $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whomever is responsible for her disappearance.


#93 Denise

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 08:52 AM

http://edition.cnn.c...beauty.missing/

Missing beauty queen was mending broken heart

Former beauty queen disappeared after dinner with friends
Clothes found on bedroom floor; car was unlocked with seat pushed back
Tara Grinstead had a complicated personal life, but big plans for future
$200,000 reward offered; to report a tip, call 229-468-TIPS

By Rupa Mikkilineni
Nancy Grace Producer
   
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Tara Grinstead, a 30-year-old schoolteacher and former beauty queen, attended a Saturday night beauty pageant and then left a dinner party, telling friends she was going straight home. She has not been seen since that night -- October 22, 2005.

Tara Grinstead, a former beauty queen who taught at a Georgia high school, was last seen on October 22, 2005.

Friends and family called Grinstead the next day, but couldn't reach her.

The following Monday, when she did not show up for work at Irwin County High School, co-workers called police and reported her missing.

When police arrived at her home in Ocilla, Georgia, they found the clothes she wore Saturday night piled on her bedroom floor. Her cell phone was charging in the wall outlet, and her car was parked in the driveway.

Her purse and keys were missing.

A latex glove found in Grinstead's front lawn was sent to a laboratory for DNA testing. The results were inconclusive.

Grinstead's family says she was a very tidy person and would never leave her clothes on the floor. They said she never went anywhere without her cell phone.

They found it strange that her car doors were unlocked and that her car seat was pushed back way too far for someone her size. She was petite -- 5 feet, 3 inches tall -- and typically kept the seat much closer to the steering wheel.

Also strange: An envelope full of cash was found on her dashboard, and her dog and cat were abandoned. Neither police nor family could say where the money came from or whether it belonged to Grinstead, and her sister and friends say Grinstead was an animal lover who wouldn't leave her pets without making arrangements for them.

The house showed no signs of a break-in or struggle, but Grinstead's bedside clock was found under her bed, and the time it displayed was six hours off. A lamp that was broken into two pieces was propped against the wall on her nightstand.

Co-workers and students at Irwin County High say the 11th-grade teacher was well-liked. She always seemed to be happy and appeared to lead a charmed life. She was beautiful, popular, dedicated and determined.

She was applying for a doctoral program in history and making plans for a very bright future, said her sister Anita Gattis.

But there were hints of trouble in her personal life. Grinstead's boyfriend of six years left her broken-hearted a year before, but had returned to town just a few weeks before she disappeared.

He was dating a much younger woman but continued to call Grinstead. The former couple had argued a week before her disappearance, Grinstead's sister said.

Then there was Grinstead's young former student, who claimed to have had an affair with her. Police records show that she had him arrested for coming to her house and harassing her. Later, those charges were dropped.

And Grinstead had lodged a complaint with the police department against one of its officers. The officer was friendly with her former boyfriend, and on the night Grinstead disappeared, the two men were seen together in his patrol car, on what is known in police circles as a "ride-along."

Police characterize their investigation as a missing-person case. Investigators are not ruling out the possibility of foul play, but without more evidence, they say it is also quite possible that Grinstead may have just walked away from all the drama in her personal life.

Grinstead's family and friends insist she is not the kind of person to go off on her own without being in touch with her family. They emphasize that the circumstances surrounding her disappearance are highly of out of character for her. They are certain she was abducted.

Police have not named any suspects but continue to hope for tips that could help their investigation. The total reward offered is $200,000 -- $100,000 for Grinstead's safe return and $100,000 for tips leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for abducting her. To report a tip, call 229-468-TIPS.


#94 Denise

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 08:05 PM

http://www.associate...rmer.html?cat=8

Disappearance of Tara Grinstead, Former Beauty Queen, Still a Mystery

By Sarah F. Sullivan, published Sep 30, 2008

On the evening of October 22, 2005, 30-year-old schoolteacher, Tara Grinstead, disappeared near her home in Ocilla, Georgia. After attending a beauty pageant and dinner party, she told friends she was going straight home. After she didn't show up for work on Monday, Grinstead, a former beauty queen, was reported missing, according to CNN.

Police found the clothes she wore Saturday night on her bedroom floor. Her cell phone was charging, her car was parked in the driveway and her purse and keys were missing. Adding to the confusion, Grinstead's car doors were unlocked, the car seat was pushed back too far for Grinstead's 5-foot, 3-inch frame and an envelope full of cash was found on the dashboard.

Her boyfriend of six years had broken up with Grinstead a year before, but had recently returned to town. Though he was dating someone, he continued to call Grinstead and they had argued a week before her disappearance. Though police are not ruling out the possibility of foul play, they also believe it is possible, according to CNN, that Grinstead may have "walked away from all the drama in her personal life."

Every day, 2,300 Americans are reported missing. The National Center for Missing Adults tracks about 48,000 "active cases," though the number has skyrocketed by nearly 11,000 due to the recent hurricanes.

Protocol for missing adults is different mainly because the person is an adult. Because of this, it is assumed that they can care for themselves. When they go missing, there is a chance that they went somewhere without telling anyone. Because of this "right," adults cannot be declared missing until it can be proven, usually after twenty-four hours.

If a loved one or friend goes missing, it is important to take necessary action and to not panic. Once you have sufficient reason to believe your loved one is missing, contact family and friends to ask if they know where they could be. Keep a record of everyone to whom you speak (name, date, time, phone number). Report the person missing to the police. Be sure to mention if the person had a physical or mental illness, was depressed or was acting out of character recently.


#95 Linda

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Posted 01 October 2008 - 08:40 PM




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Project Jason profile

Name: Tara Faye Grinstead
Classification: Endangered Missing Adult
Date of Birth: 1974-11-14
Date Missing: 2005-10-22
From City/State: Ocilla, GA
Missing From (Country): USA
Age at Time of Disappearance: 30
Gender: Female
Race: White
Height: 63 inches
Weight: 100 pounds
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Brown
Complexion: Light
Identifying Characteristics: Pierced ears, pierced navel, small tan colored birthmark on front of shoulder.

Circumstances of Disappearance: Unknown. Tara was last seen at approximately 11:00pm at an acquaintance's residence in the vicinity of the 700 block of W. 3rd St. in Ocilla, GA. She left the residence and arrived at her home in the vicinity of S. Alder St. and W. Park St. in Ocilla, GA. It is unknown at what time she arrived. Her vehicle, the clothes she wore, and cell phone were found at her residence which was locked.

Investigative Agency: Ocilla Police Department
Phone: (229) 468-7494
Alternate Phone: (229) 468-8477
Investigative Case #: 2005-10-24-065



#96 Denise

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Posted 02 October 2008 - 07:32 AM

http://www.postchron...212175545.shtml

Missing Beauty Queen: The Tara Grinstead Case

by Mitch Marconi

Tara Grinstead, former beauty queen and 30-year-old school teacher, has been reported missing after a sequence of several disturbing events.

Tara Grinstead went missing on the night of October 22, 2005. She had attended a Saturday night beauty pageant and then left a dinner party, informing friends of her plans to go home.

#97 Denise

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 08:38 PM

http://www.macon.com...ory/504249.html

Missing teacher's family seeks closure

By Phillip Ramati

Sandy McClurd sums up her friend Tara Grinstead best with a story.

McClurd, who coached cheerleading with Grinstead at Irwin County High School, said Grinstead was having trouble one day getting through to her history students about why the American colonies revolted against the British Empire. So she handed out play money to students and then began taxing them on what seemed like every possession they had; book bags, belt buckles, notebooks and more.

The students would say to her, :But we need these things!" McClurd recalled with a chuckle. "When the kids ran out of money, she got the school's DARE officer to 'arrest' them by locking them up in the teachers lounge. So the students revolted and put together picket signs against her. She was thrilled that they went and did this on their own."

There were many reasons why Grinstead was among the school's most popular teachers, McClurd said. Grinstead believed every senior deserved a yearbook, and she would often lend money to the seniors who couldn't afford one. She believed every senior should go to the senior prom, and she would lend money or dresses to students who couldn't afford to dress up for the event.

This year, members of Irwin County's senior class were all freshmen when Grinstead, a former Miss Tifton, disappeared without a trace from her home on Oct. 22, 2005. As another year has passed, her friends and family hope that something, a clue, a witness, some break in the case, will present itself so that they can find out exactly what happened to Grinstead that night and they can find some closure.

Not knowing for certain if Grinstead is dead or alive has been the most difficult part of the ordeal, said Connie Grinstead, Tara's stepmother.

"Some days, I do have some hope," she said. "Every time I see a story where someone was found after being missing, it ignites hope. I think "if it happens in that case, maybe it can happen with (Tara)." I know the chances of finding her are slim, but I haven't closed that door."

Connie Grinstead points out the case of a Missouri boy, Shawn Hornbeck, who was kidnapped in October 2002 and found alive in 2007. Still, she said, she carries a little more optimism than Tara's father, Richard.

"I probably have a little more hope than my husband does," she said. "It's just very frustrating. You're sitting on the fence. You can't give up hope, but you can't move forward. We really need closure, regardless of the outcome."

THE INVESTIGATION

Getting answers any time soon may be unlikely.

In July, the CBS news magazine '48 Hours' ran a segment on Grinstead's disappearance, as well as that of a Florida woman named Jennifer Kesse, who vanished three months later under similar circumstances.

In both cases, there were no indications of a break-in at the home or signs of a struggle. The victims' keys and purses were missing. Like Grinstead, there has been no trace of Kesse.

The '48 Hours' segment prompted a new rush of tips and leads, said GBI Special Agent Craig Rotter. Rotter would not discuss specifics about the case, but he said the GBI was still following up new leads as a result of the tips.

"The show generated a lot of information and new leads," he said. "We're constantly following leads. I'm not going to get into specifics, but it's an open and active case."

Despite similarities in the two cases, it doesn't appear that the disappearances of Grinstead and Kesse are linked. But Connie Grinstead said she and her husband keep in regular contact with Kesse's family in a show of mutual support.

Rotter declined to say if the GBI thinks there might be a chance that Grinstead is alive, or whether agents believe she was kidnapped from her home or left on her own accord. Grinstead's family and friends don't believe she disappeared voluntarily. It wasn't in her nature to leave like that, they said.

Rotter said the GBI is reviewing all the evidence it can, but he declined to say what it is they are looking at. He also wouldn't say if there is a suspect or a person of interest in the case.

"We do have physical evidence," he said. "We are pursuing the same type of investigation whether it is a missing person or a homicide."

Ocilla Police Chief Billy Hancock said the community remains very interested in finding out what happened to Grinstead. A massive search in the area in the weeks following her disappearance yielded no trace.

"We're still looking to find out information," Hancock said. "It's still a mystery to us. We still get calls about it, but it's mostly psychics. We don't have anything real promising. ... She will always be in the forefront of people here. They want closure. They want to find out what happened."

TRYING TO MOVE ON

Oct. 22 passed by quietly this year for Grinstead's family and friends. Billy and Connie Grinstead, who live in Birmingham, Ala., received lots of calls and messages from well-wishers.

There was no vigils or ceremony in Ocilla for Grinstead like there have been in years past, though. McClurd said residents are getting ready for the county's annual Georgia Sweet Potato Festival.

Those closest to Grinstead didn't say a whole lot about the anniversary on the day it happened, she said.

"The day is such a sad day," she said. "We don't talk about it. We just make eye contact. (Wednesday), I couldn't even talk about it."

"It was a very sad day for us" Connie Grinstead said. "We chose to stay close to home. We cried. We talked about the good times."

There won't be a lot of relief for anyone, those who knew her said, until there are answers.

"The whole community (of Ocilla) is devastated still," Connie Grinstead said. "It's a small town where everyone pretty much knows everybody. There are a lot of people still hurting over this, and it's not going to get any better until she is found."

#98 Jenn

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 05:15 AM

http://www.ajc.com/n...ght-123959.html

Blairsville case puts highlight on other missing persons


By MEGAN MATTEUCCI The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 7:19 a.m. Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Connie Grinstead should be happy to have more tips coming in to help find her missing stepdaughter, but all she can do is cry and pray.

The hunt for a missing Blairsville mom Kristi Cornwell has spawned more tips to come in for Tara Grinstead, a south Georgia teacher who was reported missing almost four years ago.

"It is not a cold case. A tip came in as recently as last week," Connie Grinstead said Tuesday. "I still get phone calls. It's amazing to me that people have not forgotten."

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has spent the past two weeks searching for Cornwell, who was reportedly abducted while walking near her parents' Blairsville home. The search for Cornwell, a 38-year-old former probation officer, has captured media attention across the nation.

While the Cornwell case has brought in a few hundred tips, the Grinstead mystery has attracted thousands of tips and remains the GBI's largest case file. Grinstead has garnered more tips than other case in the GBI's history, Special Agent Gary Rothwell said.

"It's the darndest case I've ever seen," said Rothwell, a GBI agent for 28 years. "We get information on that case all the time, just not information that is leading us anywhere. Typically with a case like this - even high profile cases - information diminishes. But we get information on the Grinstead case all the time."

As of Tuesday, there were 421 women over the age of 18 missing in Georgia, according to GBI spokesman John Bankhead. The majority of the cases have turned 'cold,'leaving investigators and families at a standstill.

For investigators, it means an open case file, random emails from psychics claiming to have the answer and having to let down family members.

For Connie Grinstead, not knowing what happened to her stepdaughter is harder than having to say goodbye at a funeral.

"We already lost her, but add on top of that we don't even know what happened to her," said Grinstead, of Birmingham. "You are still stuck in time, sitting on fence and can't get off on either side because you don't know."

Tara Grinstead was a 30-year-old high school history teacher and former beauty queen. She was last seen Oct. 22, 2005 at a cookout about six blocks from her Ocilla home in south central Georgia.

She got a call on her cell phone and left. She didn't show up at work the next day and her family has not heard from her, Rothwell said.

Grinstead's cell phone, dog and cat were left in her house and there were no signs of a struggle. But her purse and car keys were gone, despite her car still sitting in the driveway, Rothwell said.

A cell phone call is also the last contact investigators have for Cornwell, who was talking to her boyfriend Douglas Davis in Atlanta when she was reportedly abducted.

Douglas told investigators Cornwell complained a car was following her. He then heard signs of struggle and Cornwell say "don't take me," Davis said.

Investigators have combed sections of three states, interviewed sex offenders and reviewed hundreds of tips in the Cornwell case, but received no “significant” leads, Bankhead said Tuesday.

This week, U.S. Marshals spent two days traipsing through woods in North Carolina after Fox's "America's Most Wanted" received a tip following Cornwell's family's appearance on the show.

"We didn't think [the tip] was reliable from the beginning," Bankhead said Tuesday. "But we're checking into everything. You have to."

The GBI said it prioritizes each tip based on the information, the caller's knowledge of the individual and investigators' ability to check it out.

Much of the time, the number of tips depends on the amount of media attention a case receives. The Grinstead case appeared on CBSâ' '48 Hours,' along with regional media.

"You got cases in Atlanta that don't receive that kind of attention," Bankhead said. "We don't make the decision about the media. We prioritize leads, not cases."

In the majority of missing person's cases, the victim usually knows their attackers, Bankhead said.

While the possibility a missing person simply left without telling anyone always exists, the GBI said in each of the cases they investigate it appears a crime occurred. Last year, the GBI went through all missing person cases in its files and trimmed the list by about 100 women who had returned on their own, Bankhead said.

Despite some cases growing cold, the GBI said it never assumes a person is dead until they find the individual.

In some cases, tips come out of nowhere like when a caller said Mary Shotwell Little, a newlywed reportedly abducted from a Buckhead parking lot in 1965, was under a garage floor in Forsyth County. The tip came in 30 years after the woman went missing. Agents dug up the floor, but found nothing, Bankhead said.

Little remains on the GBI's list, a list that Connie Grinstead reviews frequently.

"Until we find her, we can not totally shut the door on hope," Grinstead said about her stepdaughter. "When I saw the Kristi Cornwell story, I felt sick to my stomach because I know what is ahead for that family. I know they are just beginning that journey."

Grinstead said she lights a candle on a Web site for her missing stepdaughter and posts a message each morning. She said she wants the Cornwell family to know that tiny steps like that help.

"If you start to think about what ifs, all the maybes and possibilities, the pain becomes unbearable," she said. "Somebody may have taken our loved ones, but they can never take our precious memories of them. They are ours forever."



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#99 La Vina

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 12:54 PM


NamUs - National Missing Persons Data System-Tara Grinstead # 445



#100 La Vina

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 07:35 PM

http://www.orlandose...0,4319208.story

Man who claims he killed Jennifer Kesse expected in Georgia courtroom today


December 4, 2009
Willoughby Mariano and Bianca Prieto
Orlando Sentinel


A man investigators said posted YouTube.com videos claiming he killed missing Orlando woman Jennifer Kesse and more than a dozen other people testified in a Georgia court Friday.

Suspected "catchmekiller" Andrew Haley said he was frightened when he talked to law-enforcement officers trying to find the true identity of the Internet video poster.

"I was scared that I was going to go to jail," Haley said in court, according to a report by The Times of Gainesville, Ga. "I thought I was wanted for murdering someone, all because of a game."

Haley testified in an attempt to have statements he made to law enforcement thrown out. Judge David Burroughs denied the request, Hall County District Attorney Lee Darragh said.

Haley is charged with tampering with evidence and providing false statements in connection with two YouTube.com videos posted under the name "catchmekiller." In the recordings, a man claims he is a serial killer, and to find him, viewers would have to follow a series of clues.

Investigators do not believe Haley is an actual serial killer.

Drew Kesse, father of Jennifer Kesse, helped bring the videos to the attention of law enforcement.

A request to throw out evidence from a seized laptop computer also was denied. Haley's pregnant wife was being treated in a room at Northeast Georgia Medical Center where one Internet posting was traced, according to court testimony, according to the report from The Times.

Jennifer Kesse was abducted from her Orlando condominium near the Mall at Millenia on Jan. 24, 2006. Her case is unsolved.

The "catchmekliller" also implied he killed missing Georgia woman Tara Grinstead, a high school teacher and former beauty queen. Grinstead was featured on CBS's 48 Hours in the same episode that highlighted Kesse's disappearance.

Grinstead disappeared three months before Kesse did, and investigators wondered whether the incidents were connected. At one point, detectives met to discuss their cases, but did not establish they were linked.





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