As investigators reportedly discovered new evidence in a renewed search for Tara Grinstead’s remains following last week’s murder arrest, a judge issued a gag order preventing anyone with knowledge of the investigation to publicly discuss the case.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge J.T. Ricketson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday that investigators have been searching a south Georgia pecan farm and had uncovered evidence.
“We’re hopeful we can find her remains and that’s why we are there,” GBI Special Agent in Charge J.T. Ricketson said, declining to provide further specifics.
Grinstead, a schoolteacher and beauty pageant winner, vanished in October 2005. There were very few known leads in the missing persons case for 11 years, until last week when the GBI announced that an arrest had been made in Grinstead’s apparent murder. Ryan Alexander Duke was charged with murdering the then-30-year-old teacher at her Ocilla, Georgia, home. He had been a student at Irwin County High School in Ocilla where Grinstead taught.
The GBI continues to withhold specifics on the cause of Grinstead’s death, saying only that Duke allegedly killed her with his hands. The GBI has also not revealed a potential motive.
On Tuesday, a judge issued a gag order preventing investigators, family members, court personnel and potential witnesses from discussing the case. Duke has not yet entered a plea. Superior Court Judge Melanie Cross explained the rationale in the written order, obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
The Court has considered and weighed the issue and hereby finds that there is a reasonable likelihood the Defendant’s sixth amendment right to a fair trial by an impartial jury may be prejudiced by extra judicial statements.
As Crime Online‘s Nancy Grace pointed out in an appearance on Good Morning America last week, police made an arrest in the 11-year-old missing persons case very quickly after a tipster reported new information to investigators, who had not previously been looking at Duke as a possible suspect.
“Somebody knew about this,” Nancy said. “I don’t think the case is over.”