New Bedford Police search for missing teen, member of Mashpee Wampanoag tribe

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — Eighteen-year-old Jalajhia Finklea was last seen in New Bedford near her apartment on Oct. 20th.

Her family is worried about her and concerned that she may have been a victim of foul play.

Jalajhia Finklea is a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. The tribe’s police department has issued a release expressing concern that Jalajhia may have been abducted by a 37-year-old man named Luis Robert Zaragoza Barboza.

Jalajhia’s Aunt, Tia Costa, told me everything about what is known about Jalajhia’s disappearance is out of character.

“This is not like her," said Costa. “She’s never not gone missing for a week. Or a day. This is not normal.”

The day after Jalajhia vanished, she turned 18, missing a chance to celebrate her birthday with her family. Jalajhia also has missed an important medical procedure that was planned.

“Doctors reached out to us asking why she hasn’t come in, and we have no answers, we have not heard from her,” Costa said.

Jalajhia’s family is concerned about Barboza. As far as the family knows, there was no relationship between the two. And they find the 20-year age gap between them troubling.

If Jalajhia ran away with Barboza, her family insists, she would have called them. Instead, there has been no communication from Jalajhia or Barboza in more than a week.

And as every day passes, the family the worry grows that Jalajhia is somehow being prevented from calling them.

“We’re very concerned. We’re just trying to take every measure we can to get her home. We at least want to just hear something from him, from her, it’s not normal that she doesn’t reach out to any of us,” Costa said.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Police and New Bedford Police are looking for Jalajhia and Barboza. They’re asking anyone with information to call New Bedford Police at 508-991-6360.