FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2006, file photo, teacher Tara Grinstead is displayed on a billboard in Ocilla, Ga. New court documents suggest that within weeks of a south Georgia teacher’s disappearance, two of her ex-students told friends at a party they had killed her and burned her body. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Ryan Alexander Duke and Bo Dukes made the admission a month after Tara Grinstead was reported missing in October 2005. (AP Photo/Elliott Minor, File)

Documents: Suspects in missing teacher's death admit slaying

August 17, 2018 - 8:35 pm

ATLANTA (AP) — New court documents suggest that within weeks of a south Georgia teacher's 2005 disappearance, two of her ex-students told friends at a party they had killed her and burned her body.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Ryan Alexander Duke and Bo Dukes made the admission a month after Tara Grinstead was reported missing in October 2005. Court documents filed this week in Irwin County Superior Court say their comments were reported to police but they weren't arrested until 2017.

Duke's attorneys say in court motions that because it took so long to arrest them, all but the murder charge should be dropped, due to the statute of limitations.

"It is undisputed that Irwin County law enforcement knew of these crimes within months of the disappearance of Tara Grinstead," a court motion states. "In fact, a search of the area where Ms. Grinstead's body was allegedly burned was conducted ..."

Grinstead, 30, an Irwin County High School teacher and former beauty queen, was last seen on Oct. 22, 2005, when she left a cookout and said she was going straight home. Two days later, she was reported missing when she didn't show up to teach history.

Because Duke and Dukes were identified as suspects later in 2005 but not charged until 2017, all but the murder charge should be dropped, Duke's public defenders claim in one of two dozen motions filed in the past week.

"Duke and Dukes were identified as suspects and known to law enforcement in 2005," the motion states. "By a generous application of the statute of limitations of four years, the statute would have run (expired) near December of 2009."

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation declined to comment and referred questions to the district attorney who could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

In another motion, Duke's attorney asks that his indictment be dismissed because the language used is too "vague, ambitious and indefinite." In April 2017, a grand jury indicted Duke on six counts, including malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, burglary and concealing the death of another.

In June 2017, Dukes was indicted on charges including concealing a death, tampering with evidence, and hindering apprehension of a criminal.

A hearing on the motions has been scheduled for Sept. 20 in Irwin County

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Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com

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