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Georgia man sentenced to 25 years behind bars in coldcase – Bo Dukes, 34, helped his best friend dispose and burn the body of a strangled teacher who disappeared in 2005

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Bo Dukes was given the maximum sentence by a Wilcox judge on Friday, after a jury found him guilty of helping to conceal Tara Grinstead’s murder
Dukes, 34, from Georgia was sentenced to 25 years in prison after confessing to helping his best friend Ryan Duke dispose and burn the body of the teacher
The high school teacher and former beauty queen was 30 when she vanished from  her home in Ocilla, in October 2005
 I ‘failed Tara’ and ‘cowardly, callous and cruel’ for helping to hide her death – A tearful Dukes apologized to the victim’s family
During the four-day trial, the court heard how Dukes’ friend, Ryan Duke, broke into Grinstead’s home using a credit card and strangled her to death
He then elicited the help of Dukes to move her body into the forest of a pecan orchard and then burn her body to ash over the course of two days 
Dukes’ mother, Dixie Hudson, pleading for leniency asked told the court her was a decorated veteran
She prayed the court to rehabilitate her son rather than placing him behind bars
The judge instead granted the request of the victim’s family to issue Dukes the maximum possible sentence 

A Georgia man was sentenced to at least 25 years in prison on Friday, after he admitted to helping burn the body of a teacher whose grim end in a rural pecan orchard remained a mystery for more than a decade.
Bo Dukes, 34, was issued the maximum sentence by a Wilcox County judge on Friday, after a jury found him guilty of concealing the death of Tara Grinstead in 2005.

Before the judge’s verdict was issued, the decorated veteran offered a tearful apology to Grinstead’s family.
‘I’m truly sorry. Your long suffering has been unimaginable,’ Dukes said in court, turning from the judge to address the dead woman’s family. ‘My actions were cowardly, callous, and cruel. I was more interested in self-pity and self-preservation than doing the right thing for Tara and for you.’
A high school teacher and former beauty queen, Grinstead was 30 when she vanished from her home in Ocilla, in October 2005.
Related:
Authorities in Ocilla, Georgia announced Thursday they arrested a man on murder charges in the disappearance of a high school teacher in rural Georgia, in 2005 […]

A billboard with her photo and the phone number of a tip line loomed in the area for years as Grinstead’s family held on to the hope that she might be found alive.
No answers came until February 2017 when authorities arrested Dukes and his friend Ryan Duke. Duke was accused of being Grinstead’s killer.
‘For over 11 years, he watched all of us who loved her suffer unimaginable pain and heartache as we frantically searched for her,’ Connie Grinstead, the slain woman’s stepmother, told the judge Friday.
She asked for Dukes to receive the maximum penalty, saying: ‘He did nothing. He just went on living his life.’
Dukes’ defense attorney, John Fox, asked for his client to be given a 12-year sentence, as had he never have cooperated in 2017, Grinstead’s parents may have never found out what happened to their daughter.
In a statement to the courtroom, Dukes’ mother, Dixie Hudson, told the judge of her son’s military service, pointing out that he was a decorated soldier.
She acknowledged her son has ‘issues’ and asked the court to rehabilitate him.

Ryan Alexander Duke2.jpg
Ryan Alexander Duke makes his first appearance in court in 2017 after he was charged with the murder of Tara Grinstead in 2005

Superior Court Judge Robert Chasteen Jr. sided with Grinstead’s step-mother and sentenced Dukes to 25 years imprisonment for concealing a death, hindering the apprehension of a criminal, and two counts of lying to police.
The charges all stemmed from a June 2016 interview with a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent in which Dukes denied telling an Army buddy a decade earlier that he helped dispose of Grinstead’s body.
However, Dukes confessed to his role in covering up the murder a few months later, in February 2017.

He told the GBI his best friend, Alexander Duke, had broken into Grinstead’s home using a credit card and strangled her to death in bed.
Using Dukes’ truck, he then drove her body to a pecan orchard owned by Dukes’ uncle.
Dukes said he helped his friend move Grinstead’s body deeper into the woods, where they spent two days burning her remains to ash.
Ryan Duke, of no relation, is scheduled to stand trial April 1 for Grinstead’s murder in nearby Irwin County, where she lived.
Authorities say Duke also confessed, saying he broke into Grinstead’s home to steal money for drugs, and they found DNA from both Duke and the slain woman on a latex glove found in her yard.
Duke’s defense attorneys have said he gave a false confession under the influence of drugs. The say in court filings that Duke was home asleep when Grinstead was killed.
Though Dukes has been sentenced as an accomplice, he still faces charges in Ben Hill County, where Grinstead’s body was burned.
Earlier this year, police also charged the 34-year-old for sexually assaulting two women at gunpoint on New Year’s Day while he was on bail.
‘I’m thankful for this opportunity to address the court.
To Tara Grinstead’s family, I am truly sorry. Your long suffering has been unimaginable. My actions are cowardly, callous and cruel. I was more interested in self-pity and self-preservation than doing the right thing for Tara and for you. I pray for your forgiveness.
I apologize to those who were cast under a cloud of suspicion for so long. Reputations with their friends and family destroyed. I can never undo that damage and I sincerely apologize.
To local communities, I’m sorry for the years of uncertainty, of suspicion and mistrust placed even on the law enforcement community by my actions.
I apologize to my own my own family… my mother, and to Brooke Sheridan and her family. My actions and failures I am responsible for alone.
I failed Tara Grinstead, I failed her family, I failed the local community and I hope these proceedings have given some closure to the many people hurt by my actions. I want each of you to know I am truly remorseful. Thank you.’

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