A pregnant teenager missing from New Bedford was presumably found dead in Florida


Local authorities discovered his body on a field next to Route 95 in Flasmere, Fla., A sleepy town near Vero Beach. An autopsy is being conducted in Florida to officially identify the body and the cause of death, but police suspect it is the result of a homicide, according to a statement from the Bristol District Prosecutor’s Office.

Three weeks ago, American marshals visited Zaragoza at McDonald’s parking lot in Crestview, Fla., Where he presumably lived. But the encounter with the police culminated in a shooting that killed Zaragoza, the whereabouts and well-being of the teenager can never be questioned.

Fellsmere is roughly 490 miles from Crestview, and police throughout Florida and Massachusetts have been working to try to find the missing teenager.

Jalajhia Finklea disappeared on October 20 when she was seen boarding a car with Luis Zaragoza in New Bedford.
Jalajhia Finklea disappeared on October 20 when Luis Zaragoza and I were sitting in a car in New Bedford.Bristol County District Attorney

Finklea, who was five months pregnant at the time of her disappearance, underwent her first surgery in a doctor’s office on the morning of October 20 during an unspecified two-part medical procedure. He then returned to his new home in Bedford, where he lived with his mother, who had left shortly before sunset to fill his daughter’s prescription, and returned 40 minutes later to an empty house. Surveillance cameras from the surrounding streets captured Finkle, who left her house without bags and slippers.

Nine days later, investigators found his black iPhone at the shoulder of Route 140, near the Freetown city line in Massachusetts. Finklea was nowhere to be found. The call log revealed that the last phone number sought was linked to Zaragoza, who quickly became the leading suspect in the kidnapping case.

“She’s my best girlfriend, and I knew something was wrong when I didn’t hear from her for an hour, I didn’t think about her for almost a day,” wrote Geana Fonseca (18), a long girlfriend, about the day Finklea disappeared. the globe. “I could tell you it’s strong that he always wanted everyone in his circle to win.” For those he loved and cared about, he would do anything. “

Finklea was returning to the doctor’s office on Oct. 21 for a later appointment, but the police report said she never showed up. He did not tell anyone in his family, nor the large network of friends he had regularly corresponded with, through Snapchat and Facebook, of his intention to leave.

Finklea’s Instagram feed is sprinkled with photos and self-portraits of friends spending time by the pool, walking the streets of New York, or celebrating their native origins at the Wampanoag tribe. He last posted on October 15th.

On the day of the disappearance, Zaragoza, who had previously dated Aunt Finklea, was last called by phone, police said. During the investigation, Zaragoza’s mother told an investigator that her son was severely depressed, accompanied by occasional suicidal thoughts, and that police reported that “a teenager has an emotional ability.”

Police used cell phone records and surveillance video to map the intricate route of Zaragoza’s winding road south between October 21 and 23. His sedan – which was rented from Logan Airport on Oct. 20 – raced in New Jersey, spending more money. hours at the resting places of Woodbridge and Cherry Hill. The car also passed through the Lincoln Tunnel based on surveillance videos and telephones analyzed by police. There was no evidence of Finklea at these stops. Until October 23, Zaragoza’s phone connected to McDonald’s Wi-Fi in Jacksonville, Flanders. Employees later told police that the only passenger in the car had ordered “a small meal with a drink”.

The American marshals attempted to detain Zaragoza on Nov. 5 when they were spotted again at a McDonald’s, again in Crestview, Fla. Zaragoza died of a wound shot at the scene. It is unclear whether he was shot or hit by the marshals.

In a three-day stretch at the end of October, about a week after Finklea’s disappearance, a Twitter account named Luis Diamondz and handle @ kingbarboza9 posted a series of images and videos featuring Finklea and Zaragoza. One showed that the duo eats stalls and mozzarella sticks. The other is a screenshot of a FaceTime conversation with the stripped down sound. In the final, Finklea made her debut in the tattoo studio. Mask hanging under his chin.

It is not clear where and where the pictures were taken. There are several hashtags in the account biography; among them is #jalajhia. The last tweet, released on October 30, reads “#IWALYJF.”

IWALY is a common abbreviation for “I will always love you,” while Finklea’s initials are JF. The Bristol District Law Office said he was aware of the bill but declined to comment further when asked who the dates of the pictures were.

Meanwhile, Finklea’s friends and family continued to post photos of the magnetic 18-year-old man with a megawatt smile and melodic soprano in the hopes that someone might notice and help bring her home. Her mother organized a search party to explore the area where police found her daughter’s phone. While the family was praying, a vitriol of online blogs was also fought off, and commentators were basically claiming that Finklea had fled to Europe or that the family had organized her disappearance as a trick. He dedicated the cover of the November issue of Mashpee Wampanoag magazine to a photograph of Finklea.

“Unfortunately, a growing number of missing indigenous women across the country are not receiving the attention our Caucasian neighbors are getting,” President Cedric Cromwell wrote in a letter to core members published before Finklea’s death was announced. “It’s an ugly fact because of systematic racism.” The numbers are staggering. Women and girls are being taken away from us at an alarming rate. “

In fact, several scientific studies have found that the disappearance of white people, especially women and children, is covered by the media much more widely than the disappearance of colored individuals. For missing persons, colored people also remains unresolved, in a much larger proportion. According to a 2019 report by William & Mary researchers, in 2016, African-American missing cases appeared four times as often among the remaining older and open cases as white and Spanish missing persons.

Back in 2018, Finklea appeared on a community TV show, exuding confidence and serenity as she described the importance of education and her dream of pursuing a singing career after graduation.

“I started it [writing music] to my brothers and dad because he passed away, ”said Finklea, then 16, about his musical inspiration. “I felt I had to do something, and I felt that music was the right place because I could express how I felt in music, and maybe the people who listened to it would feel the same way.”

He ended the interview by processing “You Should Be Here,” a 2015 mix by a young pop artist, Kehlani.

“I don’t know where you went, but now you’re lost,” Finklea shouted. “I don’t know where you went, but you’re gone now.”


Hanna is available at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @hannaskrueger.