Grinstead's sister believes she's still alive, close to home - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Grinstead's sister believes she's still alive, close to home

November 4, 2005

Irwin County- Nearly 80 searchers on ATVs combed farm and rural areas near the community of Wray looking for any sign Grinstead. The ever-growing search gives family members hope.

"She may not be well, but I do feel like she's alive," says Anita Gattis.

Gattis says though it's been 13 days since anyone's seen or heard from her younger sister, she refuses to give up.

"I did not come to Ocilla to make friends. I came to find my sister, and if I make enemies along the way, that's okay too," she says.

While search teams continue to scour the county, the family has a private recovery agent on the case. Gattis says clues he's found lead back to her sister's car.

"Her vehicle was unlocked. That's very uncharacteristic of Tara. She always locks it, always, always, always. There's some question about the position of the seats. She was short, 5'3". That's a big red flag," Gattis says.

She also says the front of Grinstead's car was covered in bugs, leading Gattis to believe it had been driven throughout the night.

"I think that she left with someone that she knows, either under false pretenses, or maybe she left genuinely thinking she was going for a legitimate reason, and that it got ugly after that."

Gattis and her family are pleading with those responsible for Grinstead's disappearance to call their private tip line and let her go.

"If it was somebody and you had no intention of it snowballing like this, she will be picked up and law enforcement will not be notified until she is safely returned."

Gattis says she's praying that's soon, so her sister will be home in time to celebrate her birthday on November 14th.

The family's private tip line goes directly to a voice mail recorder. That number is 912-386-2564.

There will be a candlelight vigil for Grinstead at 7 P-M at the Irwin County Courthouse. Gattis says many of her sister's students and fellow pageant contestants helped organize the event.

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