Ryan Alexander Duke looked down as he shuffled into the Irwin County Courthouse in shackles Thursday afternoon to hear charges against him in the killing of teacher Tara Grinstead.
Chains dragging on the hardwood floor clanked as Duke walked into the courtroom wearing a green- and white-striped jumpsuit.
Duke, 33, hardly spoke and kept his head down as new details emerged from arrests warrants signed by GBI special agent Jason Shoudel.
Just after 5 p.m. Thursday, Chief Magistrate Heather Culpepper read allegations charging Duke with murder, aggravated assault, burglary and concealing a death.
Two hours earlier, J.T. Ricketson, the GBI special agent in charge of the Perry office, shared few details about the allegations against Duke, who had graduated from Irwin County High School a few years before the former beauty queen vanished without a trace.
The warrants alleged that Duke burglarized Grinstead’s home at 300 W. Park Street, just a few blocks from the courthouse.
Duke “willfully used his hands in an offensive manner to cause bodily harm” to Grinstead, the warrants read.
When she disappeared Oct. 22, 2005, Grinstead’s cellphone was charging in the bedroom, but her purse and keys were missing.
Her white Mitsubishi was parked outside, unlocked. A broken lamp in the bedroom was the only sign of trouble.
For 11 years and four months, investigators had no clue where she was or what happened.
According to the warrants, Grinstead was killed inside her home and her body removed.
A tip led authorities to Duke, who once played football at the high school.
With scraggly, unkempt hair and a beard, Duke ignored reporters’ questions as he was led into the courthouse and up the stairs.
He declined to ask the judge any questions as the case was bound over to Superior Court.
Chase Phillips, who graduated from Irwin County High months before Grinstead disappeared, played football with Duke.
“He never seemed like a person that would do something like this,” Phillips said. “She was a fine person, meant a lot to a lot of people.”
Phillips said the arrest brings closure for the community.
“Some people stressed more than others over wanting to know what’s happened to her,” he said.
Asked if he thinks authorities will ever find her body, Phillips said: “I doubt it.”