Constance “Connie” Beard was a courageous young woman from a family of modest means who attended Lakeview and East Lake Middle Schools and then Ringgold High School in Ringgold, Georgia. She resided with her mum, probably a stepfather, and at least two siblings (Jeremy Lee, possibly — first name Jeremy and a Jeremy Lee is listed in her stepfather’s obituary, and Bridgett Westmoreland Shirley) in the Sherwood Forest Mobile Home Park in the Graysville/Boynton region of Ringgold, between Ringgold, GA, and Chattanooga, TN.
The Young Lady
She is recalled as a courageous, warm, very fiery young lady, who was faithful to friends and very optimistic, and also very open to other people regardless of race or ethnicity. She was known to reassure people who were not optimistic, and to generally be compassionate and kind.
She told her mum that she was going to visit and stay over with her boyfriend on Friday, July 17, 1998, in Dalton, GA, about 25 minutes from her house in the Boynton region of Ringgold (between Ringgold and Chattanooga). She seems to have reached and stayed at the home without incident that Friday evening and was last noticed by her boyfriend as he went to work the following morning.
Her sister, Bridgett (Westmoreland) Shirley, said, “My aunt got a phone call from Connie [which seems to have been from her boyfriend’s apartment after he left for work] to check to see if my aunt made it home. Then, my aunt said, that Connie told her, Look, I’ll have to call you back because someone’s knocking on the door,” Shirley said.
Shirley told they never found out who was knocking on the door and they never heard from or saw Connie ever again.
Her boyfriend (news articles say his name is “Corey Butler,” but his real name seems to be Cory Larry Butler) appears to have called her mum, Frida Grimes and documented her missing the afternoon of Saturday, July 18, 1998, in Whitfield County, GA, when he came home from job and discovered her gone without explanation. Her family reached the police instantly, but were brushed off — they seem to have believed that she had run away, but the family did not acknowledge this, as she was close with her mum and other relatives. They glanced for her from the date of her disappearance until her corpse was discovered.
The boyfriend does not appear to be much of a suspect — he does not appear to have known her very well, he was substantiated to be at work with independent confirmation before she vanished, and he has no criminal history. Facebook pages begun by an interested non-family member mention an uncle with whom she was very close, probably unusually, but I can’t find his name or any specifics on him. Normally, she appears to have been close with her family, including nieces and aunts, and to have stayed in routine touch with most of her extensive and blended family. It would have been incredibly unique for her to go any duration of time without being in connection with her family, and she unexpectedly was not making any sort of contact.
Her family’s horrible fears were realized when skeletal remains were discovered in a shallow grave four months later in “a very rural region” in Murray County, GA on Sunday, October 11, 1998, by some utility employees. Reports are dubious on where precisely they were discovered — pictures seem to indicate it was a power line easement on a mountain. This would be about 20-40 minutes from her house and the boyfriend’s apartment, depending on where precisely she was in the county — there’s a lot of regions that might be interpreted as “rural.”
There has been slight coverage or apparent law enforcement activity since her casualty — I’ve posted one of the more recent articles below. An article from June of 2020 explains that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is working on the case, but Beard is not documented among their unsolved killings on their site. Her family and friends proceed to look for resolution and to advocate for bigger attention and advancement toward an arrest.