Arrest Made in Cold Case Murder of Georgia Beauty Queen After Tip Leads to Suspect

Tara Grinstead vanished without a trace 12 years ago.

An arrest has been reported in the disappearance of a Georgia beauty queen, the latest development in a cold case that has left authorities baffled for more than a decade.

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Ryan Alexander Duke, 33, was taken into custody this week and charged with the slaying of pageant winner Tara Grinstead, who vanished without a trace from her home in the small town of Ocilla.

Authorities said Duke was arrested Wednesday after getting a tip from a citizen with information.

Grinstead was 30 at the time of her disappearance and was the three-time winner of a local beauty contest. She was also a contestant in the 1999 Miss Georgia Pageant and a high school history teacher.

Osjha Domenicone won the Miss Georgia Pageant the year Grinstead competed.

"She was just a beautiful person inside and out," Domenicone told Inside Edition. "She was a wonderful friend. We would go shopping together and pick out talent dresses." 

Grinstead's 2015 disappearance triggered a massive search and national interest.

The mystery held particular interest for Georgia native Nancy Grace, who told Inside Edition: "This is a case that has haunted not only me but a whole town." 

Grinstead was declared legally dead in 2010, but her body has never been found.

"We still don't know where her body is," Grace told Inside Edition. "We still don't know exactly what happened to her." 

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“An individual came forward and reported that they had information into Tara’s disappearance,” authorities said Thursday.

Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Grinstead’s mother, Connie, said: “We always knew it would be solved, we just did not know when."

Duke graduated from the high school where Grinstead taught. It's not clear whether they knew each other.

He is being held without bond. 

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