Dive team searches Irwin Co. creek for Tara Grinstead remains

Dive team searches Irwin Co. creek for Tara Grinstead remains
The man accused of killing Tara Grinstead, a teacher and former beauty queen, made an appearance in court Monday.

By Stephanie Springer - bio | email OCILLA, GA (WALB) –Divers spent much of the day in an Irwin County creek looking for the remains of a school teacher who disappeared five and a half years ago.

Tips in the Tara Grinstead case continue to come in. Investigators say the one that led them to that creek Tuesday is the most substantial they've gotten in a year.

A neighbor who claims to have called in the tip to the sheriff says just a few days after Grinstead disappeared he saw two men acting very suspiciously down by the creek. He says it has been weighing heavy on his heart, so felt it was time to tell someone.

For years, law enforcement agencies from near and far exhausted countless hours searching lakes, ponds, streams and woods for the remains of Tara Grinstead. "We've gotten several tips on where she might be," said Investigator Stephen Rogers.

She disappeared after attending the Georgia sweet potato pageant in 2005, but there have been no solid answers as to what really happened to the Irwin County teacher. "Apparently some new leads came in on the case and anytime a new lead comes in you always have to go out and follow that lead,"said Lisa Maxwell, Thomas Co. Dive Team Commander.

It's the first time investigators have been led to this creek on Daisy Road. "This is the first time this creek has been searched," said Rogers.

The Sheriff contacted the Thomas County dive team after he got a tip from someone in the county that her remains could be near or in the water. "Very rarely do we get called for old cases but it does come up," said Maxwell.

Today an 8 person dive team spent hours searching the creek, estimated to be about ten foot deep for any evidence in the case. "This is the first time we have been up here for this case," said Maxwell.

And with zero visibility, divers had to comb through the mud, "These divers get out they are physically exhausted because they are going through the mud," said Maxwell.

For more than five years, investigators have gotten hundreds of tips on her whereabouts but they say this is the most substantial tip they've gotten in about a year. But the litter and fishing line in the water, has made it a little challenging for searchers. "You got people who come out here and park and throw beer cans fishing line..who else knows what else they are throwing in here," said Maxwell.

No one has ever been arrested in the Tara Grinstead case.

Investigators say no evidence was found today and they say they don't plan to return to the scene unless any new details arise.

Last year, a court declared Grinstead legally deceased.

Investigators say they'll continue to look into credible tips in her disappearance.

If you have any information on this case call the Irwin County Sheriff's office or the Ocilla Police Department.

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