JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The man who police say confessed to strangling a 27-year-old woman in Jacksonville in 2021 pleaded guilty Monday in her murder.
Action News Jax first told you in September 2021 about the death of 27-year-old Teresa Gorczyca.
Gorczyca was found dead near a retention pond, hidden under brush and debris on Alfa Romeo Drive in the Sandalwood area on Sept. 29, 2021. A subsequent investigation determined North Samuel Cole Pridgen was a person of interest.
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After talking to detectives about his possible involvement, JSO said he was placed under arrest for Gorczyca’s murder on March 29, 2022.
According to an arrest warrant, a witness who was a friend of Pridgen’s claimed he came to him and confessed that he had killed his girlfriend.
The witness, who has not been identified, told police that Pridgen sent him a Facebook message to pick him up on Sept. 26, 2021. When the witness picked Pridgen up near a bridge on Alfa Romeo Drive, Pridgen told him he strangled his girlfriend and hid her body in a lake, the arrest warrant said.
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During Pridgen’s interview, he told detectives that he and Gorczyca listened to music and smoked marijuana at his parents’ house from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 26.
Afterward, Pridgen told detectives that Gorczyca left to walk home to her parents’ house by herself. Pridgen then said he left his parents’ house to play basketball around 7 p.m. that night and had not seen or heard from Gorczyca.
During the interview, Pridgen said he returned home around 9 p.m., his parents kicked him out and his sister drove him to a friend’s apartment. The arrest warrant said he denied speaking with the witness.
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Detectives noticed Pridgen had scratches on his hands, arms and legs which they believed came from navigating through an area with thick brush and branches. Pridgen told detectives he got the scratches while playing basketball.
Detectives watched a surveillance video that showed Pridgen and Gorczyca walking together at 4 p.m. in the direction of where Gorczyca was found dead.
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Gorczyca can be heard saying “you’re not coming with me” and “get out of my way” as well as “go home” in the video, the arrest warrant says. Then at 4:38 p.m., Pridgen is seen walking back toward his parents’ house alone, not wearing a shirt and visibly wet.
The video contradicted what Pridgen told detectives.
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An autopsy revealed Gorczyca had bruising on her arms, stomach and neck. Doctors also found Gorczyca had a hemorrhage on the muscles of her neck.
Pridgen’s sentencing date will be set at his next court hearing on March 2.
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