ATLANTA -- A popular podcast host says his series might have contributing to an arrest made in the 2005 disappearance of Georgia beauty Tara Grinstead.
Grinstead, a 30-year-old teacher at Irwin County High School, went missing in October 2005. After years of investigation, authorities announced an arrest on Thursday.
Ryan Alexander Duke, 33, is charged with murder in Grinstead’s death. According to arrest warrants, Duke is accused of burglarizing Grinstead’s home, attacking and killing her, and then working to conceal her death.
Duke had not been on investigators’ radar before new developments came to light over the last week, authorities said.
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Payne Lindsey, the host of the “Up and Vanished” podcast, devoted 12 episodes to Grinstead’s disappearance. According to Lindsey, more than 15 million listeners heard his series, and he believes it helped spark renewed interest in the case.
"I like to say that the podcast opened up the avenue for communication,” Lindsey said. “It made people comfortable again.”
Attorney Page Pate voiced skepticism that the podcast had anything to do with Thursday’s arrest.
“They had someone walk into the office and give them information with sufficient info to make the arrest, and I haven't heard anything to suggest the podcast had anything at all to do with that,” Pate said.
Podcasts and documentaries that take an in-depth look at criminal case have become commonplace, with Serial and Making a Murderer gaining popularity in recent years. But they come with questions about both legitimacy and whether they help or hinder investigations.
The original GBI investigator of Grinstead’s case, Gary Rothwell, has spoken strongly recently about the names of innocent people have been dragged through the mud by “opportunists”.
Lindsey did not express regret for naming others in his podcast in conversations about potential suspects.
“No, I don't feel guilty naming anybody, you know I always made a really strong point to be very open honest and sincere about whatever I was saying. I never came out and said I think this, if someone told me that, I would play it for you,” Lindsey told 11Alive's sister station WMAZ.
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