ABBEVILLE, Ga. — On day three of Bo Dukes’ trial, a GBI officer took the stand and played a nearly hour-long confession in which Dukes talked about how Tara Grinstead, a former beauty queen and high school teacher, was killed and disposed of.
Grinstead vanished from her home in Ocilla, Ga. in Irwin County in 2005, garnering national attention. More than a decade later, Dukes and his classmate, Ryan Duke, are facing charges in her disappearance and murder.
In the taped confession, Dukes, wearing a light-colored polo shirt, describes without emotion what he said happened to Grinstead.
GBI Agent Shoudel presented the video recording in court Wednesday. The interview took place at the Rochelle Police Department on Feb. 21, 2017. The video showed Dukes and Shoudel talking, nearly one year after their previous recorded interview in June 2016, where Dukes denied speaking about burning a body to his Army buddy, John McCullough.
The interview was recorded just before Ryan Duke’s arrest for allegedly killing Grinstead.
Bo Dukes trial: A confession and DNA evidence
In the recording, Dukes described what happened the weekend Grinstead went missing in 2005. He said that Saturday night, there was a party at his trailer in Fitzgerald. He said he drank, passed out and Ryan woke him up the next morning.
“I didn’t believe him. He asked me to come down to the pecan orchard and I went with him and we drove to the back and he showed me where the body was,” Dukes said in the video recording. “I freaked out kinda … asked him what the hell happened.”
According to Bo, Ryan confessed that he broke into Grinstead’s home using a credit card to open the door. Bo claimed that Ryan told him he got into bed with the high school teacher and strangled her to death.
Bo told Shoudel that Ryan told him he’d used Bo’s white Ford F-150 to move her body to the pecan orchard and stopped at a laundromat dumpster to throw away her keys on the way.
In the next day or few days, Bo said he told Ryan's brother, Stephen, what Ryan had told him. Bo said he then traveled to the pecan orchard with Ryan, where Ryan showed him Grinstead's 'unclothed' and 'discolored' body.
"He'd only been [to the orchard] a few times, I was surprised he found the place," Dukes said, in the recording.
Bo said he saw marks on her neck, and together, they burned her body for two days.
"It's stuff you can't even tell a therapist," Bo said, in the recording. "You want to talk to somebody, and you can't tell them."
Photos | Tara Grinstead missing 12 years
After playing the taped confession, Shoudel told the court that he, Bo and another agent went to the Hudson Pecan Company pecan orchard to determine where the body could have been burned in 2005.
Pictures of the visit were shown to the jury, showing Bo standing in the general area of the burn site, on the outskirts of the orchard near some pine trees.
In late February 2017 after the meeting with Bo, Shoudel said he went to visit Ryan at his residence on Pleasure Lake Lane and interviewed him at the Ocilla Police Department.
Shoudel said he went to the orchard with Ryan soon after, who was in custody at the time and in handcuffs. He said Ryan pointed out the same general area of the orchard Bo pointed before as the location where they burned the body.
Defense Attorney John Fox began to cross-examine Shoudel, asking how investigative summaries are done and entered into the case file. Further along in the questioning, Shoudel revealed Bo's DNA taken during the June 2016 interview didn't match anything on file.
CATCH UP ON TRIAL COVERAGE |
Missed any part of our trial coverage or want to see full testimony from each witness? Check out our YouTube playlist of the complete trial here.