A Massachusetts teenager disappeared in October after last getting into a Florida man’s rented vehicle.
Now that man is dead and authorities are still looking for 18-year-old Jalajhia Finklea, who was five months pregnant when she disappeared.
Bristol County Prosecutor’s Office said Finklea was last seen on October 20 as he got into a vehicle rented by 37-year-old Luis Zaragoza, prosecutors said.
But when US marshals tried to arrest Zargoza, also known as Luis Barbosa, outside a McDonald’s in Florida last week with a warrant for the kidnapping and theft of a motor vehicle, he was previously “in a confrontation with police “Killed providing information about the whereabouts of the teenager.
Finklea, who was a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, disappeared the day before she turned 18.NS Birthday, according to a Cape Cod Times police report.
Her mother, Amanda Costa, last saw her daughter on October 20 around 4:50 p.m. after filling out a prescription for Finklea, who had undergone part one of a two-part medical procedure earlier in the day. When Amanda Costa returned around 5:30 p.m., her daughter had disappeared.
Finklea’s cell phone was last used to call Zaraogoza, who the report said had once dated the teen’s aunt.
Just before she disappeared, Finklea, wearing slippers and light clothing, was seen getting into a Hyundai Elantra that Zaragoza had rented at Logan International Airport in Boston. The two allegedly sat in the car for about 20 minutes before the vehicle left at around 5:40 p.m.
Authorities said Zaragoza turned off its own cell phone “minutes after Ms. Finklea got into his rented vehicle,” according to Bristol County Prosecutor’s Office.
Finklea’s discarded cell phone was later found by police on Route 140 in New Bedford, about five miles from where they saw the vehicle get on.
Costa reported her daughter missing to New Bedford police the next day after receiving a call from a clinic where Finklea never showed up for her follow-up appointment, the report said.
After being seen meeting with Finklea, Zaragoza allegedly refused to return the rental car and instead made his way back to Florida, where he was held on surveillance tape at a McDonald’s transit line in Jacksonville, Florida. Zaragoza was featured in the pictures, but according to the report, there did not appear to be a passenger in the vehicle at the time.
He was later followed to Houston on October 30th after authorities received a hit on his license plate. Investigators were able to obtain a still image in this case too, but it turned out that there was only one person in the vehicle.
In the course of the Zaragoza case, the police asked the US Marshals Service to help locate Zaragoza and Finklea. The US marshals found Zaragoza back in Florida on Wednesday November 4th and began monitoring.
The next day, police obtained an arrest warrant accusing Zaragoza of kidnapping and theft of a motor vehicle.
“Detectives probably have reason to believe that Finklea was kidnapped by Barboza [Zaragoza] detained without legal authority, forcibly or clandestinely, or detained against their will, ”the arrest warrant received from the newspaper said. “There is great concern that their lives and safety are in danger because their whereabouts are unknown.”
While New Bedford Police detectives were on their way to Florida to question Zaragoza, the U.S. marshal and an Okaloosa County sheriff’s deputy attempted to arrest him at a McDonald’s in Crestview. Authorities said Zaragoza was “armed with a pistol” and killed in confrontation with law enforcement officials, prosecutors said.
Zaragoza’s mother, Tammy Wright, reportedly told detectives that her son suffered from severe depression and had attempted suicide in the past. She described her son as “a teenager’s emotional fortune,” but said that according to the report, he had no history of violence.
Authorities are still trying to find Finklea and have asked anyone with information about the case to contact New Bedford Police.
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