Ex-boyfriend arrested in death of 27-year-old woman found in Sandalwood pond

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 28-year-old man was arrested Tuesday in connection with the death of a 27-year-old woman who disappeared in September and then her body was found in a pond in the Sutton Lakes subdivision in the Sandalwood area, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office announced Wednesday.

North Samuel Cole Pridgen -- who News4JAX learned was Teresa Janette Gorczyca’s former boyfriend -- is facing a charge of murder, according to Duval County jail records.

Gorczyca was reported missing Sept. 26, police said. The next day, JSO asked for the public’s help in locating her.

On Sept. 29, Gorczyca’s body was found in a retention pond along Alfa Romeo Drive.

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Investigators said they identified Pridgen as a suspect.

North Samuel Cole Pridgen (Jacksonville Sheriff's Office)

On Tuesday, with the assistance of the U.S. marshals, Pridgen was located on Beach Boulevard near Southside Boulevard, police said. Following an interview, according to JSO, he was arrested and charged in Gorczyca’s murder.

Pridgen was booked around 5:20 p.m. Tuesday into the Duval County jail, where he was being held without bond as of Wednesday, online jail records show.

“That was the only person I knew of that she knew in that neighborhood,” said Gorczyca’s childhood friend, Zachary Morgan.

It is unclear what led up to the murder and how Gorczyca’s body ended up in the retention pond. It’s also still unknown what details led detectives to Pridgen as a suspect.

Around the time Gorczyca disappeared, several of her friends told News4JAX that they believed she was last seen with Pridgen, her former boyfriend. News4JAX also learned he lives not too far away from where her body was found.

“It’s really sad,” said Hollie Ray, who lives in Sutton Lakes. “I’m a mother of two daughters, so every morning on my way to school when I pass the little memorial that’s there next to the retention pond, I say a silent prayer for that girl’s family.”

Gorczyca’s mother says that every week since her daughter’s death, she’s visited the memorial near the retention pond, lighting a candle in her memory.

About the Author:

Renee Beninate is a Florida native and award-winning reporter who joined the News4Jax team in June 2021.