SANDRA K. REABUCK
MEYERSDALE, Pa. — The Meyersdale murder suspect who was picked up Wednesday in Louisiana is expected to be returned to Pennsylvania within days to face a homicide charge in the strangulation death of a 19-year-old woman, state police said Friday.
Police said that 23-year-old Jonathan William Beal has waived extradition proceedings, clearing the way for his being transported to Somerset County. Police were making the arrangements to do that, but no details were released.
Once in Somerset County, Beal will be arraigned by a district judge on charges of criminal homicide, aggravated assault and abuse of a corpse in the death of Justine Marie Jackson, also of Meyersdale.
He then will be lodged in the county prison without bond because a homicide charge is not a bailable offense by a magistrate in Pennsylvania.
Jackson was reported missing Oct. 28 after she had not been seen for several weeks. Her body was found Sunday by a hiker in a shallow grave on off the Great Allegheny Passage, a biking and hiking trial in Larimer Township. Both lived near the trail.
The victim had been strangled to death with ligature but the police have not disclosed what it was.
Authorities have alleged that she was killed on Sept. 14, the day she was last seen alive with Beal. Although the police did not file charges against him until Tuesday, they said that he apparently left the area after his trailer along Scratch Hill Road was searched Oct. 29.
U.S. marshals from the Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force, along with officers from the Jefferson Parish sheriff’s office, took Beal into custody around 6:45 a.m. Wednesday at a private residence in Marrero, La., a New Orleans suburb. Since then, he’s been lodged in the Jefferson Parish Corrections Center.
The suspect told police he had ended an intimate relationship with Jackson due to her drug use, according to court records. Police also alleged that he told several people in the Meyersdale area that he had killed Jackson and buried her near “the bike trail.”
Although the victim reportedly told friends that she believed she was pregnant with Beal’s child, the authorities have not commented on that report.