Missing teacher's birthday celebrated - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Missing teacher's birthday celebrated

November 14, 2005

Ocilla- A tribute Monday night to missing teacher Tara Grinstead on her 31st birthday. It's been more than three weeks since friends and family last saw Grinstead, but they haven't given up hope.

Birthday balloons and banners decorate Tara's small home, but it's not a celebration. Grinstead is still missing.

"I don't know where she's at or what she's doing. I just hope she knows I have her in my heart on her birthday," says Tara's sister, Anita Gattis.

With candles in hand, Anita and nearly 200 other people in Ocilla honor her sister's birthday. "I have faith she's going to come back to us and she's going to unwrap the rest of her presents when she gets back," says Gattis.

"We will not stop hunting for Tara, searching for Tara, until we bring her home," says Tara's neighbor, Susan Oakley

Friends pray for the Irwin County teacher who disappeared 23 days ago. "If you can see this and keep her and not give her back to us, then you have thicker skin than any of us here have," says Oakley.

Prayer bags line the front of Tara's house. They light a path for Tara's way back home. "I wish she could be here to all we've done for her," says former student Kenyatta McDonald.

As a crowd listens to a CD of Tara singing, others decorate her doorstep with gifts and roses."This summer my house burned down. We lost everything. Ms. Tara was right there all the way. She got me everything I needed," says McDonald.

"She was a wonderful person and she would do anything for anybody," says former student Brett Walker.

While Tara's birthday is bittersweet, the community has a message for their friend, neighbor, and co-worker. "We're never going to stop looking for you. And you will be home and we will find you," says neighbor, Susan Oakley.

If you have any information about Tara Grinstead's disappearance, call the anonymous tip line at 229-468-TIPS.

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