Meyersdale man accused in Somerset County strangling arrested in Louisiana

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The Meyersdale man accused of killing a woman and burying her body in Larimer Township is in custody in a New Orleans suburb this morning.

Jonathan W. Beal, 23, was hiding in a bathroom of a home in Marrero, La., when authorities with the U.S. Marshals Service and the Jefferson Parish (La.) Sheriff's Office found him about 6:45 a.m. this morning.

Mr. Beal is accused of strangling 19-year-old Justine M. Jackson, who was living with a relative in Meyersdale, and burying her in a shallow grave near the Great Allegheny Passage Bike Trail, under the bridge commonly referred to as the viaduct.

He was taken into custody and is being detained in Jefferson Parish pending extradition proceedings to Somerset County.

According to a press release from the U.S. Marshals Service, its Western Pennsylvania Fugitive Task Force members from the Johnstown area developed information that led them to believe Mr. Beal was in Louisiana.

Further information suggested he could be in Marrero, helping members focus the investigation. They shared those details with Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force members, who arrested Mr. Beal in the 800 block of Avenue F.

Pennsylvania State Police on Tuesday identified the remains discovered in Somerset County as those of Ms. Jackson and issued a warrant for Mr. Beal's arrest.

Forensic anthropologists identified the remains as Ms. Jackson's after someone walking in the woods found them near the bike trail about 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

Mr. Beal told people in and around the Meyersdale area that he had killed Ms. Jackson and buried her body "near the bike trail," according to a state police affidavit.

Mr. Beal has a "known, violent, history with women," according to the affidavit.

Ms. Jackson told friends and family she thought she was pregnant with Mr. Beal's child.

Trooper Ted Goins has been investigating the case since Oct. 26, when a student at the Somerset Career and Technology Center told police she thought Mr. Beal killed Ms. Jackson -- her best friend.

Until Sunday, police were investigating her disappearance as a missing-persons case.

During the investigation, at least two people told authorities they last saw Ms. Jackson alive with Mr. Beal on or around Sept. 14. They said she was traveling on foot southeast toward Scratch Hill Road, where Mr. Beal lives.

Mr. Beal told police he was with Ms. Jackson, but that they did not encounter anyone else that day, according to the affidavit.

He said he ended an "intimate relationship" with her because of purported drug use, according to the affidavit.

Police said he told people Ms. Jackson moved to Baltimore to sell drugs, prompting fruitless searches from various law enforcement departments in Maryland.

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Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1944 and on Twitter: @borntolede.


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