A body found in Florida last month was clearly identified as Jalajhia Finklea, an 18-year-old Massachusetts woman who was missing, officials said Friday.
The Saint Lucie Florida medical examiner’s office has confirmed that the body found on Interstate 95 in Fellsmere, Florida was Finklea. An autopsy revealed that Finklea’s cause of death was two gunshot wounds and that the death was murder, according to a statement from Bristol District Attorney’s Office Thomas Quinn III.
Mashpee’s Finklea was last seen getting into a vehicle in New Bedford on October 20. Her body was found last week.
The vehicle she got in was driven by 37-year-old Luis Zaragoza from Florida. Zaragoza, also known as Luis Barbosa or Luis Barboza, died on November 5 in a confrontation with police in Crestview, Florida when US marshals tried to arrest him. He was armed with a gun, Quinn’s office said.
“This is a terrible tragedy for the family and my heart is with them. This brutal crime was clearly committed by someone with a depraved mind, ”Quinn said in a statement.
Massachusetts State Police soldiers, with the help of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, were able to obtain information from Zaragoza’s cell phone, which revealed a typed note about the October 20 events, the statement said.
“In the note, Mr. Zaragoza described his own depression and stated that Mrs. Finklea took a snapshot while he was sitting in his car on Coggeshall Street in New Bedford,” prosecutors said. “He kept typing ‘she’s gone’ and giving turn-by-turn directions on where to find Ms. Finklea in Fellsmere, Florida. This information led to the discovery of the deceased. “
Investigators have been following the case since October. Finklea’s cell phone was found scrapped on Route 140 in New Bedford, about 5 miles from where she got into Zaragoza’s car, officials said.
“I would like to commend the various law enforcement agencies who have worked closely with us to resolve this terrible case. I would like to thank New Bedford Police Detectives Roberto Dacunha, Jason Gangi and Sgt. Tyrone Jones for their efforts during the investigation into this case. I would also like to thank Soldiers Brock Morrissette and Jeremiah Donovan for their expertise in uncovering the suspect’s testimony about the events and the whereabouts of the body, ”Quinn continued.
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