NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — Concern for missing 18-year-old Jalajhia Finklea is growing, now that the man suspected of abducting her more than two weeks ago was shot dead by US Marshals in Florida.
Jalajhia’s mother, Amanda Costa, is extremely worried.
“I’m kind of glad she wasn’t in the car at that moment,” Costa told me. “But it’s still scary, because now I have absolutely no clue where she is. It’s just scary to me.”
Jalajhia Finklea is a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and is living in New Bedford.
Tribal Police say she was abducted by Luis Barboza, a man nearly 20 years older.
Jalajhia and Barboza’s family both tell me they haven’t heard from them since October 20.
New Bedford Police are leading the search for Barboza, with help from other law enforcement.
Thursday morning, while New Bedford investigators were on their way to Florida, US Marshals found Barboza sitting in a car at a McDonald’s parking lot in Crestview, Florida.
In a statement, authorities say Barboza shot at US Marshals and they returned fire, killing him.
Jalajhia was not in the car with Barboza.
“What is going through your mind now, as you try to figure out what happened?” I asked Jalajhia’s mother.
“Is my baby girl alive? Is she OK? Is she going to make it home safe? I just want to know where she’s at. And is she safe?” Amanda Costa told me.
Last week, videos of Barboza and Jalajhia appeared on his Twitter feed, causing even more concern with Jalajhia’s family.
Jalajhia’s family told me last week, those videos are not current but were months old.
Amanda Costa is holding out hope that her 18-year-old daughter is still alive, waiting to be found.
“If you could send a message out to Jalajhia herself, what would you say?” I asked.
“Jalajhia, I love you and I miss you and we are looking for you. And trust me. You will come home, safe where you belong,” Costa said.
© 2020 Cox Media Group