State, federal agencies join Grinstead search -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

State, federal agencies join Grinstead search

November 2, 2005

Ocilla -- It's become one of the largest missing person searches in Georgia history. Thirty-year-old Tara Grinstead has been gone for 12 days. And now, GEMA and the Office of Homeland Security are involved in the search.

And officials admit that hope is fading in the search for Tara Grinstead. "The more time that goes by, the worse the situation looks," says Irwin County Sheriff Donnie Youghn.

Officers still have little to go on, but one piece of evidence stands out, a white latex glove found in Tara Grinstead's front yard.

An eerie silence envelopes the neighborhood where Grinstead's house sits, surrounded by yellow law enforcement tape. A contrast to the noise and activity a few blocks away at a growing command center.

About two miles down the road, cadaver dogs sniff around ponds. "We don't know what happened to Tara, Dawn," says Sheriff Youghn.

But each passing day leads them to believe she's likely the victim of a crime.

"I'm thinking there's a possibility that Tara left with somebody that she knew." Maybe a man? "Yeah, probably a man, you know, friend," says the sheriff.

Do Youghn think she left on her own free will? "That I'm not sure about. There are so many scenarios that could happen. She could've left on her own free will and thought that they were just going to do up to the store and right back."

When Tara Grinstead disappeared, her car was found at home, unlocked, with $300 cash in the console. Inside her bedroom, a crooked lamp shade and an alarm clock found on the floor, but not a typical crime scene where a violent struggle occurred. "You know the scene of a crime when you see one," Youghn said.

Did her bedroom look like the scene of a crime? "No."

Did her house look like the scene of a crime? "Not to me."

What about her yard? "Uh, now, the only thing the house did not, you know, look like there was a struggle or anything took place like that. Now there was a latex glove that was found in the yard."

A single latex glove, the only solid piece of evidence investigators are talking about. What does it mean? "It could indicate a stranger or it could indicate somebody that she knew not very well or somebody that was prepared," Youghn said.

Prepared for what? Investigators don't know, but they're not giving up. How long realistically will you search for Tara? "We're not gonna stop, Dawn, until we cover the whole county," Youghn said. "We're going to be able to look on those maps and say we've searched all those places. Some places two or three times. Unless something breaks in this case, I'm looking to be doing this another seven, eight, nine days, if we've got enough help to keep going."

Keep going on a search that's now making national headlines. We all watched on the national news when Natalee Holloway disappeared in Aruba, and Lori Peterson in Modesto, California and now, all of a sudden, the national spotlight is on Irwin County, Georgia, population 9,000. "Yeah," said Youghn.

Did you ever imagine? "No. And I wish it wasn't."

The sheriff says there's no reason to think that Tara is even in Irwin County, and he encourages everyone in South Georgia, especially farm owners, to walk around property and look for any clues in this case.


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