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US marshals kill man wanted in disappearance of Mashpee teenager

Jalajhia Finklea{ }(Bristol County District Attorney's Office)
Jalajhia Finklea (Bristol County District Attorney's Office)
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The Bristol County District Attorney's Office said Monday that investigators were still searching for a Mashpee teenager who was last seen getting into a car in New Bedford last month.

Prosecutors said a man wanted in her disappearance, 37-year-old Luis Zaragoza, was shot and killed by U.S. marshals in Florida on Thursday.

Authorities said 18-year-old Jalajhia Finklea was last seen Oct. 20 in New Bedford, where she got into a car that Zaragoza rented at Logan International Airport. They said Zaragoza, who's from Florida, also went by the alias Luis Barbosa.

Police say Jalajhia Finklea was five months pregnant and missed a follow up appointment for a two-part medical procedure that could put her life in danger.

District Attorney Thomas Quinn said Finklea's cell phone was last used to call Zaragoza before she got into his car.

"Further investigation determined that Zaragoza turned off his own cell phone minutes after Ms. Finklea got into his rented vehicle," said Quinn.

Investigators said they found Finklea's cell phone on Route 140 in New Bedford, about five miles from where she first got into Zaragoza's car.

They learned that Zaragoza left the state and traveled to Florida.

"The suspect then traveled to Texas before driving back to Florida," said Quinn.

Authorities said they found surveillance footage from some of the places Zaragoza had traveled to during the last two weeks. However, they said none of the videos showed Finklea.

Quinn said U.S. marshals were able to track the man to Florida and put him under surveillance.

He said police in Massachusetts obtained an arrest warrant for the suspect, charging him with kidnapping and car theft.

The district attorney's office said before New Bedford detectives could get to Florida, Zaragoza was killed in a shootout with marshals and a sheriff's deputy in the parking lot of a restaurant in Crestview.

"I heard the yelling, but I thought it was interference maybe in the speaker. I didn't realize it was going on because there was nothing going on when I pulled up. They were yelling at him or her, like I said I don't know, trying to get them to put the gun down is what I'm assuming. I heard 'gun down,' and then I heard what I thought was maybe backfire or something, but I think it was a low caliber gun, and then they opened fire," a witness said.

Prosecutors said Zaragoza was armed with a handgun.

Quinn said an investigation into the shooting is being conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Reports show that Zaragoza was an ex-boyfriend of Finklea's aunt.

Zaragoza's mother told police he suffered from severe depression and had no history of violence but had the "emotional capacity of a teenager."

Finklea has yet to be found but the search for her continues, said Quinn.

Her family has also raised thousands of dollars online to hire a private investigator.

Anyone with information about this case should contact the New Bedford Police Department at 508-991-6360.

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