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Body found in Fellsmere presumed to be missing Massachusetts teen

Suspect killed in Florida during confrontation with law enforcement
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Posted at 6:33 PM, Nov 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-26 07:31:03-05

FELLSMERE, Fla. — A body found along the Treasure Coast is believed to be that of a missing Massachusetts teenager.

The Bristol County District Attorney's Office announced Wednesday that a body found in Florida is presumed to be that of missing Jalajhia Finklea.

According to District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III, the body was discovered around noon in a field off Interstate 95 in Fellsmere.

The search for Finklea, 18, started on Oct. 20, when the teen was last seen getting into a vehicle in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

The vehicle, officials said, was rented at Logan International Airport by Luis Zaragoza, 37, of Florida, also known to go by the alias Luis Barbosa or Luis Barboza.

According to investigators, Zarazoga turned off his own cell phone minutes after Finklea got into his rented vehicle.

Investigators said Finklea's cell phone was found on U.S. Highway 140 in New Bedford, approximately five miles away from where she first entered into the suspect's vehicle.

Police said Zarazoga traveled to Florida and then to Texas, before returning back to Florida.

Surveillance footage shows some of the locations the suspect traveled during the course of two weeks, but police said Finklea is not seen in any of the surveillance.

Zarazoga was located by the U.S. marshals Nov. 4. Massachusetts police obtained an arrest warrant for the suspect and charged him with kidnapping and larceny of a motor vehicle.

U.S. marshals and an assisting Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office deputy attempted to arrest Zarazoga on Nov. 5 at a McDonald's parking lot in Crestview, Florida.

Officials said Zarazoga was armed with a handgun and died during a confrontation with authorities.

The investigation into the shooting is being conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

An autopsy will be conducted in Florida to positively identify the body to determine the cause and manner of death, which officials believe to be a homicide.

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