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The Disappearance of Tara Grinstead


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A new podcast from the creators of Up and Vanished and HowStuffWorks.

The true story of a city’s deep secret.


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A collaboration between Up and Vanished and the new film adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express.


Episode 1: Cold As Alaska

Filmmaker Payne Lindsey sets out to produce a true-crime documentary and discovers an intriguing unsolved missing persons case from Ocilla, Georgia. We are introduced to high school teacher Tara Grinstead, who was last seen on October 22, 2005, and the basic facts of her disappearance. Payne meets and interviews Dr. Maurice Godwin, a private forensic detective who worked on the case. Payne also chats with his grandma, who lives near Ocilla and might have a lead for him.

Episode 2: White Rabbits

Payne Lindsey travels to Ocilla and meets with Dusty Vassey, reporter for the local newspaper. He also talks with his grandma’s friend Melba, who has a tip that may or may not mean something. Maurice Godwin warns Payne against chasing after “white rabbits,” leads that send you running in circles but don’t lead anywhere. Payne also interviews Noah Griffin, a friend of Tara’s from the beauty pageant circuit.

Episode 3: The Alibi

Payne and Maurice discuss the prime piece of evidence, the blue latex glove found outside Tara’s house with some kind of DNA evidence on it. Was it dropped before or after family friend Heath Dykes came to the house to check on Tara? Payne talks to Anthony Vickers, a young man who was arrested for trying to break in to Tara’s house, and also investigates the alibi of Marcus Harper, Tara’s ex-boyfriend. He then interviews dog trainer Tracey Underwood, whose cadaver dogs have searched hundreds of acres in Irwin County, hunting for Tara’s scent.

Episode 4: Snapdragon Road

Payne has a rather creepy experience collecting soil samples from a body-sized mound of dirt in a crawlspace underneath a house in Ocilla. He then examines Tara’s emotional state in the days and weeks before her disappearance. Finally, Payne interviews former fire marshal Vernon Singley regarding a suspicious house fire on Snapdragon Road, at the one site where cadaver dogs had possibly identified Tara’s scent.

Who is Tara Grinstead

Tara Faye Grinstead was born in Hawkinsville, Georgia to Billy and Faye Grinstead on November 14, 1974. During her upbringing in Hawkinsville, she was a cheerleader and an active member of the Baptist church.  After high school, she went on to Middle Georgia College to pursue higher education and become a teacher. Subsequently, she earned a Master’s Degree in Education from Valdosta State University. She was planning to pursue a doctorate degree at the time of her disappearance.

In 1998, Tara began teaching at Irwin County High School in Ocilla, GA. She was a devoted and well-liked 11th grade history teacher. She was compassionate and truly cared for her students outside of the classroom, even allowing one to temporarily live with her after the student’s house burned down. According to friends and family, Tara was widely known for her generous and trusting nature.

About the Podcast

Season 1 of Up and Vanished explored the 2005 disappearance of beauty queen and high school teacher Tara Grinstead in Ocilla, Georgia. The cold case was the largest case file in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s history, with no arrests in 11 years. The podcast quickly drew attention, both in South Georgia and nationwide.

As the people of Ocilla began talking about the case again, new leads and stories emerged. In February 2017, the GBI arrested two suspects for Grinstead’s murder. Up and Vanished will continue to provide updates on this no-longer-cold case as the criminal trial proceeds in 2018.

A second season of Up and Vanished, covering a completely different true crime story, will debut in early 2018.

Missing since 10.22.2005