Authorities say they are still searching for the 18-year-old who went missing last month after the suspect died during a confrontation with police.
Search continues for pregnant New Bedford teen after kidnap suspect dies in Florida
An 18-year-old girl in Massachusetts is still missing after the man wanted in connection with her disappearance died while authorities attempted to take him into custody, according to the Bristol County District Attorney's Office.
District Attorney Thomas Quinn III says New Bedford police and Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to his office have been investigating the disappearance of Jlajhia Finklea, of Mashpee, shortly after she went missing. She was 5 months pregnant when she left her mother's home the day before her 18th birthday.
Finklea was last seen on Oct. 20 in New Bedford, where she got into the vehicle of 37-year-old Luis Zaragoza, of Florida. She did not have any luggage to suggest she was leaving by choice, and she knew she had a medical appointment the next day, in connection with her pregnancy.
Investigators learned Zaragoza, who also goes by the alias Luis Barbosa, had recently rented the vehicle from Logan International Airport in Boston.
Police learned that Finklea's cell phone was last used to call Zaragoza shortly before she got into his vehicle, and they later determined that the suspect turned off his own cell phone just minutes after Finklea got into the rented vehicle.
Investigators were able to find Finklea's cell phone, which was discarded on Route 140 in New Bedford — approximately 5 miles away from where she first got into Zaragoza's vehicle.
As a result of their search efforts, police determined that Zaragoza left Massachusetts and traveled south along the eastern seaboard to Florida. He then traveled to Texas before driving back to Florida.
According to Quinn's office, none of the surveillance footage from some of the places Zaragoza traveled to over the course of the last two weeks shows Finklea.
United States marshals were called in to help find Zaragoza. They were able to find him Wednesday night and began surveilling him.
While police in Massachusetts continued to search for Finklea, they obtained an arrest warrant for Zaragoza and charged him with kidnapping and larceny of a motor vehicle.
New Bedford Police Department detectives were traveling to Florida Thursday morning when U.S. marshals and an Okaloosa County Sheriff's deputy attempted to arrest Zaragoza at a McDonald's parking lot in Crestview.
Quinn's office said that Zaragoza, who was armed with a handgun, died during a confrontation with authorities.
Investigators, however, have yet to find Finklea and the search for her continues. She is a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and is described as having brown hair, hazel eyes and a triangle-shaped scar on her left cheek. She is listed at 5 feet, 3 inches tall and weighs approximately 110 pounds.
Anyone who thinks they have seen her, or has information about her disappearance, is asked to call Station 3 of the New Bedford Police Department at 508-991-6360.
The investigation into Zaragoza's shooting in Florida is being conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The incident is not considered random. Zaragoza used to date the teen's aunt.
Finklea was last seen on Oct. 20 in New Bedford, where she got into the vehicle of 37-year-old Luis Zaragoza, of Florida. She did not have any luggage to suggest she was leaving by choice, and she knew she had a medical appointment the next day...
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