Tara Grinstead has been missing a decade

Tara Grinstead disappeared in 2005 (Source: WALB)
Tara Grinstead disappeared in 2005 (Source: WALB)
Published: Oct. 22, 2015 at 8:42 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 22, 2015 at 9:49 PM EDT
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Her car and other items were at her home
Her car and other items were at her home
Wendy McFarland
Wendy McFarland
Police Chief Billy Hancock
Police Chief Billy Hancock

OCILLA, GA (WALB) - Today marks 10 years since the last time Tara Grinstead was seen alive. To this day, the mystery behind the Irwin County school teacher's disappearance remains unsolved.

It's very obvious that Tara Grinstead is still very much in people's minds. 'Missing' posters are all over town, and to this day, there's been no evidence of Grinstead.

Ocilla is your typical small town South Georgia city.  But the city hasn't been the same since October of 2005. "We kind of went from a safe community where nothing could happen to a feeling of, 'wow, we're not safe in our own homes anymore,'" said Irwin County High School teacher Wendy McFarland.

Tara Grinstead, former Beauty queen and Irwin County high school teacher, attended the annual pageant in town. That was the last time anyone saw her alive. 

"We just realized something's wrong because Tara was never late. And she would never, ever not come to school without notifying somebody," said McFarland.

Police immediately went to her home. They found her cell phone and car all still there but the 30 year old teacher was gone.

"My initial thoughts were that this was easily explainable. That she had drove off with somebody and that she would drive up anytime and wonder why we were in her yard," said Ocilla Police Chief Billy Hancock.

A glove with DNA and a partial print was found in the yard and investigators tested more than 200 men. None came back positive. Search parties scoured Irwin and surrounding counties for weeks.

"We had a lot of other agencies that assisted with that and to this day, no results of Tara Grinstead," said Chief Hancock.

Police Chief Billy Hancock still pours over evidence ten years later looking for clues. There have been numerous attempts since 2005 to locate Grinstead.

Most recently investigators drained a pond in Ben Hill County in hopes of finding her remains but came up empty. "There's always that hope that were finally going to get some closure and so far, it has just continued to be a let down," said McFarland.

Chief Hancock insists the case hasn't gone cold. "We still hope and pray that one day, that some information or technology will change in order that we may be able to solve this case and bring some resolution to the family," said Chief Hancock.

But after 10 years, the question lingers, what happened to Tara Grinstead?

The most recent search in February was thought to be one of the most credible tips in the case, but nothing was found.

Chief Hancock admits that was deflating for everyone involved.

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