Jalajhia Finklea found dead. Missing New Bedford, Massachusetts pregnant Mashpee teen discovered in Florida field a month after leaving with Luis Zaragoza aka Luis Barbosa.
The body of Jalajhia Finklea, 18, was discovered Wednesday in a field off Interstate 95 in Fellsmere. The discovery follows the missing teen last seen getting into a rented car in New Bedford, Massachusetts on Oct. 20 with a Florida man, the Boston Globe reported.
An autopsy will be conducted to formally identify the body, as well as a cause of death, but investigators from the Bristol District Attorney’s Office believe it to be homicide, the Boston Globe reported.
US Marshals tracked down the man wanted in the teen’s disappearance, 37-year-old Luis Zaragoza, on Nov. 5 at a McDonald’s in Crestview, Florida, where he died during a shootout with police before they could question him, prosecutors said earlier this month.
Zaragoza, aka Luis Barbosa, had been sought on kidnapping charges and larceny of a motor vehicle in the teen’s disappearance. The site where Finklea’s body was found is roughly 490 miles from Crestview.
Five month pregnant teen disappears
Finklea who was five months pregnant, lived with her mother in New Bedford. On the day of her disappearance, October 20, the mother went out to fill a prescription only to return home and find the teen gone on the eve of her 18th birthday. It remained unclear if the woman had left willingly or had been abducted.
Detectives later found the missing girl’s iPhone along a roadway in Freetown, Massachusetts, and her last number contacted was linked to Zaragoza, who previously dated Finklea’s aunt, police said.
Zaragoza’s mother told a detective that he had the ’emotional capacity of a teenager’ and was severely depressed, a police report shows.
Finklea, a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, attended Barnstable High School in Hyannis and gave no prior indication that she was planning to leave home, NBC Boston reported.
Identity of unborn child’s father
Investigators said Zaragoza drove a rental car from Logan Airport to Florida and then Texas before returning to Florida. Some of his stops were caught on surveillance footage, but the teen was not spotted on the clips, prosecutors said.
Zaragoza, who shaved his head to avoid being detected by authorities, had previously lived in New Bedford before moving to Florida, the Cape Cod Times reported.
Not immediately clear is the identity of the father of the slain teen’s unborn child.