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'Get out of my way': Arrest warrant details events before murder of woman found in Sandalwood pond

The arrest report says a witness came forward and told police that his friend, Samuel Pridgen, had just confessed to strangling his girlfriend.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — (The video above is from a previous report)

New details have been released regarding the murder of a 27-year-old woman found dead in a Sandalwood retention pond.

Teresa Janette Gorczyca, 27, was found dead in a Sandalwood retention pond in September 2021. Samuel Cole Pridgen was arrested in connection with her murder nearly six months later in March.

RELATED: Man charged with murder in death of 27-year-old woman whose body was pulled from Sandalwood retention pond

The arrest report says on Sept. 26, a witness came forward and told police that his friend, Pridgen, confessed to strangling his girlfriend and hiding her body in a lake.

 The witness told investigators he received a Facebook message from Pridgen, asking him to pick him up as soon as possible near a bridge, according to the warrant. Once he was riding in the car with his friend, Pridgen allegedly confessed to strangling his girlfriend and hiding her body in a lake.

The following day, detectives spoke with Pridgen about what happened. He said that he picked Gorczyca up around 11 a.m. in a Lyft before they went back to his parents house. 

Pridgen described their night to officials, saying they listened to music and smoked weed together. According to him, Gorczyca left alone around 1:30 p.m. to walk to her parent's house. Pridgen claimed he did not have any contact with his girlfriend after she left. 

According to the warrant, Pridgen told detectives he spent the rest of his evening playing basketball. When he returned home for the night, he said his parents kicked him out, so he spent the rest of his night at a friend's apartment.

When authorities were talking to Pridgen, they noticed his hands, arms, were covered with scratches. He told police the injuries were from playing basketball and detectives thought they looked liked they could be from brush or branches.

RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Best friend of Teresa Gorczyca, woman found dead in Sandalwood retention pond, speaks out

Continuing their investigation, detectives went to the bridge where the witness picked Pridgen up. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office dive team was called out to help. Law enforcement located a backpack on the bank of the canal that runs under the bridge. Gorczyca's ID and personal possessions were found inside.

Three days later, officials found Gorczyca's body on the bank of the canal, close to where her backpack was originally found. Investigators determined her body had been hidden under brush and debris. It was severely decomposed, the warrant said. 

When an autopsy was conducted, bruising was found on Gorczyca's arms stomach and neck.

The arrest warrant describes surveillance video of the couple walking together in the direction of the canal. The warrant says Gorczyca can be heard saying "you're not coming with me", "get out of my way" and "go home", to Pridgen. 

Later on, Pridgen is seen walking back to his parent's home, alone. He appears to be wet in the video, according to the warrant. 

Credit: Jacksonville Sheriff's Office
North Samuel Cole Pridgen, 28, was arrested Tuesday and charged with murder in the September 2021 death of 27-year-old Teresa Gorczyca.

RELATED: Missing Jacksonville woman found dead in pond in Sandalwood area | JSO investigating cause of death

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