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Authorities believe they have discovered the remains in Florida of a pregnant teenager who disappeared last month from her Massachusetts home after she was seen getting into the car of an older man.
The Bristol County District Attorney’s Office announced that a body believed to be that of 18-year-old Jalajhia Finklea was discovered around noon Wednesday in a field off Interstate 95 in Fellsmere, Florida.
Authorities have yet to positively identify the body and are waiting for the results of an autopsy to confirm her identity. The autopsy will also be used to determine the cause and manner of death, although authorities believe the teen died by homicide.
Finklea disappeared Oct. 20 after she was last seen in New Bedford getting into a vehicle rented by 37-year-old Luis Zaragoza, who also goes by the names Luis Barbosa and Luis Barboza.
Investigators later discovered that Zaragoza had rented the vehicle from the Logan Airport before picking the teen up near her mother’s home.
Her mother reported last seeing her daughter around 4:50 p.m. that afternoon as she was leaving to go pick up a prescription for her, according to a report obtained by the Cape Cod Times. When she returned at 5:30 p.m., her daughter was gone.
Finklea had been about five months pregnant when she disappeared, according to the report.
Oxygen.com reached out to the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office earlier this month to obtain a copy of the report, but the request was denied citing the “ongoing investigation.”
Finklea’s cell phone, which was found discarded about five miles from where she got into the vehicle, was last used to call Zaragoza, authorities said.
Police determined Zaragoza then left the state and traveled south to Florida along the eastern seaboard before driving to Texas and then returning to Florida. Surveillance footage captured Zaragoza in several areas during the two-week period after Finklea disappeared, but the teen was never seen with him in any of the footage, the district attorney’s office said.
U.S. Marshals were able to successfully locate Zaragoza on Nov. 4 but when they tried to take him into custody on an arrest warrant for kidnapping and larceny of a motor vehicle in a Florida parking lot, he was killed during a “confrontation with police,” the statement said.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is currently investigating the shooting.
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