Bo Dukes sentenced to 25 years in Tara Grinstead case

Credit: � 2019 Cox Media Group. AP Photo/

Credit: � 2019 Cox Media Group. AP Photo/

The man convicted of helping conceal the death of a South Georgia teacher by burning her body was sentenced to 25 years in prison Friday morning.

Bo Dukes appeared in a Wilcox County courtroom in an orange jumpsuit and offered his apologies to the family of Tara Grinstead.

The 30-year-old disappeared from her Irwin County home in 2005. Investigators believe she was killed by Ryan Alexander Duke. They say Dukes helped his friend burn Grinstead’s body for two days at his family’s  farm.

“My actions and failures are the responsibility of mine alone,” Dukes said in court Friday. “I failed Tara Grinstead, and I failed my community. I want everyone to know I am truly remorseful for my actions.”

Credit: WSB-TV AP Photo/ WSB-TV

Credit: WSB-TV AP Photo/ WSB-TV

Dukes was sentenced the morning after his conviction on four counts, including two counts of making a false statement, hindering the apprehension of a criminal and concealing the death of another. Dukes didn’t testify during his four-day trial, but jurors heard from him in the form of recordings made during interviews with the GBI.

Dukes initially claimed he didn't know anything about the disappearance and death of Grinstead, a high school history teacher and beauty queen. Months later, Dukes confessed. He hadn't killed Grinstead but had helped dispose of the body.

Despite a massive search and national publicity into her disappearance, no arrests were made in the case until February 2017. Duke was charged with Grinstead’s murder, and Dukes was arrested days later. Duke is scheduled for trial April 1 in Irwin County.

Dukes’ defense attorney, John Fox, asked the judge for a 12-year sentence while prosecutors asked for 25. Judge Robert Chasteen sided with prosecutors.

“I just can’t quite wrap my head around what was done,” Chasteen said.

Dukes is also charged in Ben Hill County, where Grinstead’s body was burned. In June 2017, a grand jury indicted Dukes on charges including concealing a death, tampering with evidence, and hindering apprehension of a criminal. A trial date has not yet been scheduled in that case.

Earlier this year, Dukes was the subject of a five-day manhunt after alleged sexual assaults.

On New Year’s Day, Dukes allegedly assaulted two women at gunpoint in his Warner Robins home. Police charged Dukes with rape, aggravated sodomy and false imprisonment, but couldn’t locate him. U.S. Marshals joined in the search, and Dukes was located at a relative’s home.