Tara Grinstead murder: Bo Dukes found guilty of concealing death

Published: Mar. 20, 2019 at 11:17 AM EDT
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By: Associated Press

March 21, 2019

ABBEVILLE, Ga. (AP) -- A jury has convicted a Georgia man of concealing the death of a teacher whose slaying remained a mystery for more than a decade after her body was burned to ash and bone fragments in a rural pecan orchard.

Bo Dukes was the first of two suspects to stand trial in the 2005 death of Tara Grinstead. The fate of the teacher and former beauty queen didn't come to light until the men were arrested in 2017.

Prosecutors in Wilcox County charged 34-year-old Dukes with covering up Grinstead's death by lying to police in a 2016 interview about the case. But Dukes's defense attorney said they failed to prove he intentionally lied.

News outlets report it took the jury less than an hour to convict Dukes on four counts, including two of making a false statement, hindering the apprehension of a criminal and concealing the death of another.

Dukes's friend, Ryan Duke, is charged with murder in Grinstead's death. His trial is scheduled for April 1.

By: Associated Press

March 20, 2019

ABBEVILLE, Ga. (AP) -- A Georgia man confessed on video that he helped burn the body of a slain high school teacher for two days until "it looked like it was all ash."

Bo Dukes tells a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent in the recorded interview that he helped Tara Grinstead's killer burn her body in a pecan orchard in October 2005.

Prosecutors played the video Wednesday for a Wilcox County jury hearing the first trial in Grinstead's slaying. The teacher and beauty queen's disappearance remained a mystery for more than a decade until Dukes and his friend were charged in 2017.

Dukes is charged with helping conceal Grinstead's death and lying to police in an earlier interview. His friend Ryan Duke is charged with Grinstead's murder. His trial is set for April 1.


March 20, 2019

ABBEVILLE, GA (WALB) -- Day three of the Bo Dukes trial got underway Wednesday morning in Wilcox County following explosive testimony on Tuesday.

Eleven people took the stand, but it was one of Bo’s army buddies who testified that he blew the whistle about Duke’s involvement in burning the body of Tara Grinstead.

WATCH LIVE: We're back in Wilcox County for day 3 of the Bo Dukes trial in the Tara Grinstead case. Read a recap of day 2: https://bit.ly/2CEjk07

Posted by WALB News 10 on Wednesday, March 20, 2019

That army buddy was a key witness in this trial. He revealed what Bo told him about disposing of a body and the call he made to law enforcement was played for the jury.

On Wednesday, the prosecution showed the court a video of an interview with Bo Dukes. In the video, Dukes admitted he helped dispose of the body, and said they spent two days burning it.

Dukes said he told Stephen Duke, Ryan’s brother, on Monday about what happened over the weekend. He said that they loaded her body into his Ford F-150 and Ryan Duke drove the truck to the pecan orchard near Fitzgerald.

Tara Grinstead’s body was face up and wasn’t clothed. He also said there were marks on her neck.

On the GBI video, Dukes said that he told several people about the death of Grinstead what had happened. He gave the GBI the phone numbers of several people he told the story to in 2007 or 2008. He said most people thought he was making up the story.

Dukes said in his interview that Ryan Duke told him he strangled Tara Grinstead on her bed. He said they threw her keys and purse into a dumpster before disposing of her body during his interview with the GBI.

Dukes said he was shocked Ryan Duke could find the orchard because he had only been there a few times. He said he helped move Grinstead’s body.

Dukes showed the GBI approximately where they burned her body in the orchard on a photograph during his interview.

During his interview with the GBI, he said they got the wood to burn the body from a shed. The two men left the fire and let it burn overnight. He thinks Grinstead was wearing a belly button ring when this all happened. After two days it looked like the only thing left was ash.

In his interview, Dukes said that he still doesn't know why Duke killed Grinstead.

The two men had a conversation about not saying anything about what happened, but he told Brooke Sheridan and his ex-wife about what happened. Dukes said he finally came forward because he wants this to be over in his interview.

The GBI asked Bo Dukes about reaching out to Ryan Duke to ask him about talking to the GBI.

Dukes said he has returned to the site where Grinstead’s body was burned multiple times.

When asked about talking to Duke, Dukes said he was worried about Ryan putting a bullet in his back. He said that it has bothered him that Grinstead’s family never knew what became of her.

Ryan Duke was not known to carry guns or knives. Dukes had never seen Duke behave in a violent manner, he said in the interview.

“He was like, 'Well man I need to tell you something.' And that’s when I was pretty much shocked,” said John McCullough.

McCullough met Bo Dukes in basic training where they became what he described as “battle buddies.”

He testified that Dukes told him about Ryan Duke asking him to borrow his truck after he killed their former teacher Tara Grintstead in 2005.

McCullough: He had said that technically he killed Tara to him.

Lawyer: The friend had said that?

McCullough: Yes. That he had beat her and accidentally strangled her and killed her and he didn’t know what to do. So he needed her truck to move her body.

McCullough said he tried reporting what Dukes had told him multiple times, but no one would listen.

That’s when he called the GBI which prompted this recording:

McCullough: He said he killed her. They got in an argument or whatever. And then I was like what are you talking about? And he was like you know he killed that girl on the bulletin board. You know came to borrow my truck and he was upset and all this other stuff so I told him I’d help him.

And something even more chilling was revealed in the recording.

McCullough: “You know it takes over 12...1200 degrees to burn human bones?”

It’s believed Grinstead’s body was taken to a Pecan Orchard in Ben Hill County and burned.

Dukes’ uncle, Randy Hudson, who owns the property, testified he had warned his nephew in 2005 about burning on the land.

“He just didn’t listen and he could have done a lot of harm," said Hudson.