Disturbing allegations against suspect in mom’s kidnap, killing

The Rhode Island man accused of kidnapping a Boston mother will be transported back to Massachusetts from Delaware, where federal authorities say he was found driving with the slain woman’s body in his trunk last week. Louis Coleman III, 32, is facing federal charges of kidnapping resulting in death in the killing of Jassy Correia, who was last seen celebrating her 23rd birthday with friends Feb. 24 at a Boston nightclub.

Coleman appeared in a federal courtroom in Delaware Thursday and waived his right to have detention and preliminary hearings in Delaware, reports CBS Boston. It’s not clear when he will be extradited.

Jassy Correia with her daughter, 2 Correia family via CBS Boston

Speaking at a press conference Sunday, United States Attorney Andrew Lelling outlined a timeline of disturbing events in the government’s case against Coleman. He said that when Coleman was pulled over in Delaware Thursday and asked whether anyone was in the car with him, Coleman replied, “She’s in the trunk.”

Lelling said Coleman and Correia were seen on surveillance video after 2 a.m. Feb 24 outside the Boston nightclub getting into Coleman’s car. Boston police were able to get an image of Coleman’s license plate and tracked the registration back to a condominium in Providence, Rhode Island, Lelling said.

Working with police in Providence, investigators looked at surveillance footage from the condo complex that Lelling said showed Coleman carrying a body that matched Correia’s description from his car into the building about two hours after the two were last seen together in Boston. Surveillance video also showed Coleman carrying the body to his apartment door, Lelling said.

Two days later, on Tuesday, Feb. 26, the surveillance video showed Coleman leaving and returning with WalMart shopping bags, Lelling said. Investigators found a nearby Walmart and confirmed with store surveillance video that Coleman had been at the store. A receipt they obtained from the WalMart indicated Coleman bought three Tyvex protective jumpsuits, duct tape, two candles, a mask, gloves, safety goggles, an odor respirator and bleach, Lelling said.

The next evening, on Wednesday, Feb. 27, Lelling was seen on the video entering the apartment building with large suitcase, which was recently purchased because it had the tags still on, Lelling said. A few hours later, in the early morning hours of Thursday, Feb. 28, Lelling was seen hauling the suitcase back out and hoisting it into his trunk as though it was heavy. He then drove away.

Correia was never seen exiting the building, Lelling said.

When investigators searched Coleman’s apartment Thursday, according to Lelling, they found items including hooded coveralls and two respiratory masks and noticed a cover was missing on one of the couch cushions. In a Dumpster, Lelling said, investigators found trash bags, plastic sheets and other cleaning materials.

Coleman’s car was located in Delaware later that day and he was pulled over on I-95 near Wilmington, Lelling said. After he told police “she’s in the trunk,” officers found a body that matched Correia’s description, naked, bruised, bound in duct tape and covered in what appeared to be baking soda, Lelling said. The body was wrapped in a plastic bag and a couch cushion cover that matched the one missing from Coleman’s apartment, and was placed inside the suitcase, Lelling said. Investigators believe she died of blunt force trauma and strangulation, reports CBS Boston.

When police asked Coleman about a bandage on his face, he allegedly said, “It’s from the girl.”

Police found multiple items in the car, including a pair of new long-handled loppers, plastic garbage bags, a gas container, a butane lighter, gloves, charcoal air purifiers, air fresheners, tinted safety glasses, cloth work-gloves, a new set of pliers, a laptop, a computer hard-drive, and disinfectant wipes, reports CBS Boston.

If convicted, Coleman faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison and also faces the possibility of the death penalty, Lelling said. He did not detail what the motive might have been.

Speaking at a press conference Sunday, Boston Police Chief William Gross thanked Providence police and federal investigators for their work on the case. He called Correia’s death a “horrible tragedy” and vowed to seek justice for her family.

“We want to send a message to predators and hunters that people are watching you, and we’re not going to tolerate this in out city,” Gross said.

The woman’s cousin, Katia DePina, told CBS Boston her family is devastated.

“She was a mother. She was brave. She was strong. She did not deserve this,” DePina said. “She went out to celebrate her birthday and never returned home.”

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