Jalajhia Finklea has been missing since October 20

By Steve Helling
November 12, 2020 02:36 PM
Credit: Facebook

Police in Massachusetts are searching for an 18-year-old girl who has been missing since October 20 — but the man who was last seen with her has been killed during a confrontation with police.

According to the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office, Jalajhia Finklea was last seen getting into the car of 37-year-old Luis Zaragoza last month. Finklea, a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, hasn't been seen since.

According to a police report obtained by the Cape Cod Times, Finklea was pregnant at the time of her disappearance.

The District Attorney's office alleges that Finklea’s cell phone was last used to call Zaragoza. Minutes after she got into his rented vehicle, her cell phone was turned off.

"During the course of the investigation, police were able to locate Ms. Finklea’s discarded cell phone, approximately five miles away from where she first entered into the suspect’s vehicle. Police have been actively attempting to locate her and the suspect ever since," the district attorney said in a statement.

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According to CBS Boston, police had been trying to locate Zaragoza, who also goes by the name of Luis Barbosa. He was the sole person of interest in Finklea's disappearance.

Massachusetts police contacted the US Marshals to help find Zaragoza and Finklea. Authorities tracked Zaragoza to Texas and then to Florida. Surveillance video in both states showed Zaragoza, but no sign of Finklea.

Authorities tracked Zaragoza to Crestview, Florida, a small town approximately 50 miles east of Pensacola. When the U.S. Marshals Service Task Force attempted to arrest Zaragoza on November 5, they say he fired a gun at them. Officers returned fire, killing Zaragoza at the scene.

At the time of the shooting, New Bedford Police were en route to Florida to arrest Zaragoza on kidnapping and larceny charges.

Since Zaragoza's death, authorities have turned to the public for help in finding Finklea. Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to call the New Bedford Police Department Station 3 at 508-991-6360.