Pregnant Massachusetts teen believed to be found dead in Florida
Authorities believe to have recovered the body of Jalajhia Finklea, missing from since October
A body was recovered in Florida is believed to be the remains of an 18-year-old teen missing from Massachusetts, authorities say. Jalajhia Finklea was reported missing on Oct. 21 and was five months pregnant at the time according to the Cape Cod Times.
She was a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and was last seen by her mother, Amanda Costa. She went missing the day before her 18th birthday. Her mother informed the outlet she went to get prescription medicine for her daughter who had a two-part medical procedure that day. When Finklea did not show for the second appointment, she called the police.
Bristol County District Attorney’s Office DA Thomas M. Quinn III released a statement about the recovery.
“Florida law enforcement officials today found a deceased female body in a field off of Route 95 in Fellsmere, Florida,” the statement reads.
“Although the deceased is presumed to be Ms. Finklea, a positive identification has yet to be made. An autopsy will be conducted in Florida to positively identify the deceased and to determine cause and manner of death, which is believed to be homicide. Once autopsy results are completed, our office will send out a follow-up release.”
According to the report, Finklea was seen getting into the car of Luis Zaragoza, the main suspect. The 37-year-old sometimes used a different name, Luis Barbozam, the Cape Cod Times reports. The teenager was last seen entering a Hyundai Elantra that Zaragoza had recently rented in New Bedford. Police informed the outlet Finklea did not appear to plan to leave home due to the lack of bags and her attire. The vehicle was never returned.
Zaragoza dated one of Finklea’s aunts in the past and her mother told police he has a history of violence. Finklea’s cellphone was last used to call Zaragoza before she met him at the car. Her phone was later found on Route 140, about five miles from their parking lot conversation. Cell phone tracking and technology eventually led investigators to Zaragoza and police obtained video footage of him with no apparent passenger at various locations in Woodbridge, New Jersey, Jacksonville, Florida and Houston, Texas.
A warrant for his arrest was issued for kidnapping and larceny of a motor vehicle charges.
Zaragoza was located by law enforcement in the Florida Panhandle and the alleged kidnapper was fatally wounded in the process. CBS Boston, reports he was shot by members of the U.S. Marshal Service on Nov. 5 outside a McDonald’s in the city of Crestview as they attempted an arrest. According to the report, as officers approached his vehicle, Zaragoza shot at least once from the car. Police fired back, killing him in the process.
When the confrontation with officers occurred Finklea was not in the vehicle.
Zaragoza’s mother, Tammy Wright, informed police that her son suffered from untreated severe depression had attempted suicide in the past, and expressed suicidal ideations. She claimed he had no history of violence but had the “emotional capacity of a teenager,” the Cape Cod Times reported.
Have you subscribed to theGrio’s “Dear Culture” podcast? Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. Download theGrio.com today!