Jalajhia Finklea Murder: How Did Luis Zaragoza Die?

Image Credit: Instagram

If there’s one thing absolutely nobody can deny, it’s that every single loss of life is tragic, but grief grows multifold when aspects like needlessness, pain, and suffering get added into the mix. Unfortunately, though, as explored in ID’s ‘TextMeWhenYouGetHome’ season 2 episode 5, this is precisely what the horrific 2020 abduction turned murder case of Jalajhia Finklea comprised. So now, if you simply wish to learn more about the same — with a specific focus on her background, her cause of death, as well as her assailant — we’ve got all the necessary details for you.

How Did Jalajhia Finklea Die?

Although merely 17, Jalajhia was reportedly leading a comfortable, happy, stable life in New Bedford, Massachusetts, when everything was snatched away from her in the blink of an eye. This Barnstable High School student was actually rather family-oriented and five months pregnant, which is just part of why her disappearance the day before her 18th birthday came as an utter shock. Thus, of course, the moment her mother raised alarms, not only did their entire Indigenous community take action in the hopes of finding her but the national authorities also got involved.

Image Credit: Instagram

According to records, Jalajhia was last seen by her mother at roughly 4:50 pm on October 20, 2020, upon having undergone the first portion of a two-part medical procedure earlier that day. The latter had then stepped out of their home to get a prescription filled for this Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe member, but the teen was nowhere to be found by the time she returned at 5:30 pm. In fact, it wasn’t until five weeks later that her whereabouts came to light — her body was recovered around noon on November 25 with two bullet wounds to the head 1,400 miles away in a rural field off Route 95 in Fellsmere, Florida.

Who Killed Jalajhia Finklea?

Despite the fact there were no signs of Jalajhia throughout the fateful evening, it took her missing a doctor’s appointment the following morning for her mother to realize she had really vanished. After all, it was her 18th birthday and she was already relatively independent, yet it was not like her not to call or keep any family member in the loop regarding precisely what she’d been up to. Hence kickstarted an extensive search for the youngster, just for it to quickly be reported she was actually last seen getting into a Hyundai Elantra that 37-year-old Luis Zaragoza had rented at Logan International Airport in Boston.

Luis, as per statements by Jalajhia’s worried mother, had once ostensibly dated the teen’s aunt and was known to often have firearms in his possession or be violent in terms of his personal desires. That’s why both his as well as the to-be mother’s electronic devices were subsequently tracked, revealing he’d switched off his cell mere moments after she’d gotten into his vehicle at nearly 5:20 pm. It also turns out they’d allegedly sat in the car for 20 minutes before driving off together, he was the last person she’d ever called, and then her phone was found discarded approximately 5 miles away at Route 140 in New Bedford.

Thus began a quest to hunt down Luis (aka Luis Barbosa), especially as investigators learned he’d not only failed to return the rental vehicle but was even captured at a McDonald’s drive-thru all the way in Florida. Though the worst part was that the surveillance footage indicated there was no other passenger beside him, plus his order seemed to be for one person too, making everyone scared for Jalajhia’s well-being. According to reports, this male (with his car) was then tracked down to Houston, Texas, on October 30, 2020, before it came to light he’d rushed back to Florida by the time early November rolled around.

How Did Luis Zaragoza Die?

It was November 4, 2020, when the authorities started surveilling Luis to ensure he didn’t leave again, just to obtain an arrest warrant charging him with kidnapping and larceny of a motor vehicle the following morning. The US Marshals, combined with deputies from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, were the ones to execute this the same day at a Crestview McDonald’s, yet that’s when things turned into a confrontation. As per official documents, Luis had immediately drawn out his own handgun, and it apparently resulted in such a severe conflict the officials ultimately shot him — he unfortunately passed away from his wounds.

Luis’ death came as complete heartbreak to many as it only left them with more questions than answers, but an ensuing analysis of his cell phone made it rather clear that he had killed Jalajhia. He actually had a note in it which specified he’d “snapped” till the point of no return that fateful evening and “she is gone,” plus it had contained “turn by turn directions” to the location of her remains. All this became public knowledge from a press release in early December, yet we should also mention his mother had already told detectives he suffered from severe depression, had attempted suicide in the past, and had the “emotional capacity of a teenager” — but alas, in the end, it was too late to help him.

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