For eleven years the disappearance of a teacher devastated the community of Ocilla, Georgia.
Now, the man who burned her body has been sentenced to over 20 years in prison in what was an emotional day in court.
“I just can’t quite wrap my head around you know what was done,” said Judge Robert Chasteen, Jr.
It’s the beginning of the end to a cold case more than a decade old.
Bo Dukes has been sentenced to the maximum penalty of 25 years in prison in connection with the disappearance and death of Tara Grinstead, a former beauty queen out of a small town.
Investigators say he didn’t kill her but helped hide the body.
“I was more interested in self-pity and self-preservation than doing the right thing for Tara and for you,” Dukes said. “I pray for your forgiveness.”
It took the jury less than an hour Thursday to find Dukes guilty on four counts, including concealing the death of another and making false statements when approached by investigators.
Judge Robert Chasteen, Jr.: “Romans 3:23 that says, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We all have,” said Judge Chasteen, choking up. “But that would have been the time to come forward.”
Grinstead first disappeared from her home in Ocilla in 2005.
“I failed Tara. I failed her family. I failed the local community,” Dukes said.
For the family, it’s a day that’s been a long time in the making.
“It’s phenomenal. I mean I know it’s a baby step — but I feel like we’re finally getting justice for Tara,” sid Anita Gattis, Grinstead’s sister.
The next trial begins April 1 for Ryan Duke who is charged with murdering Grinstead.