Dalton Walker
Indian Country Today

A body found near a busy Florida highway is presumed to be a missing Mashpee Wampanoag citizen.

Jalajhia Finklea, 18, was last seen Oct. 20 in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Law enforcement found the body in a field off Interstate 95 in Fellsmere, Florida, on Nov. 25, according to the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office.

The death is being investigated as a homicide, and an autopsy was planned in Florida to positively identify the victim, the office said. Finklea was five months pregnant when she disappeared, the Cape Cod Times reported

“Our very deepest condolences to the family of Jalajhia,” a Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Facebook post read. “We hold them in our prayers in this most sorrowful time. We must be here for them and one another.”

Finklea was last seen getting into a car with Luis Zaragoza, a 37-year-old Florida resident, according to The Associated Press. Zargoza then drove to Florida, Texas and back to Florida, though none of the surveillance footage obtained showed Finklea with him, according to the report.

Zaragoza, who also went by Luis Barbosa, was shot and killed by U.S. marshals in Florida in early November. Massachusetts authorities had obtained an arrest warrant charging Zaragoza with kidnapping and car theft, according to the AP.

Finklea’s cellphone was last used to call Zargoza and was later found discarded in New Bedford about 5 miles from where Finklea got into the car, according to the district attorney’s office.

The Cape Cod Times reported Finklea turned 18 on Oct. 21, a day after she was last seen. Finklea lived in New Bedford, and she was last seen wearing light clothing and slippers and was not carrying any bags, according to the newspaper.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe issued an alert dated Oct. 25 to help bring Finklea home.

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Dalton Walker, Red Lake Anishinaabe, is a national correspondent at Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter: @daltonwalker Walker is based in Phoenix and enjoys Arizona winters.

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