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Man accused of fatal kidnapping of Jassy Correia heads to trial

Jassy Correia is seen playing with her daughter in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston on June 16, 2018.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Jassy Correia had celebrated her 23rd birthday with friends at a Boston nightclub, and was trying to catch an Uber home. Shortly after 2 a.m. on a cold February morning, she was standing on the sidewalk, holding her shoes in her hand, when a man approached her and led her to a car parked nearby, at one point carrying her on his shoulders, according to video surveillance.

It was the last time she was seen alive. Four days later, a massive search for Correia ended tragically when State Police pulled over Louis D. Coleman III on Interstate 95 in Delaware and found her body in the trunk of his car.


More than three years later, Coleman, 36, is now heading to trial on a single charge of kidnapping resulting in death in US District Court in Boston. Prosecutors decided not to seek the death penalty against Coleman, who if convicted will be sentenced to life in prison.

Coleman’s lawyers declined to comment on the trial, which continues with jury selection for the second day on Monday, but have argued in court filings that Correia got into Coleman’s car willingly and later attacked him.

“Sometime after leaving together, a sudden and violent interaction occurred in the car and Mr. Coleman was forced to defend himself, resulting in Ms. Correia’s death,” Coleman’s lawyers wrote last month in an unsuccessful motion to block the government from presenting statements Correia made in the days before her death, showing she planned to stay with a friend in Dorchester that night.

Prosecutors counter in court filings that Correia weighed only 119 pounds, compared to the 200-pound Coleman, and that wounds Coleman had sustained to his hands, arms, head, and face when he was arrested were “entirely consistent with the sorts of injuries one would likely sustain when assaulting a young woman fighting for her life.”


Even though federal prosecutors allege that Coleman killed Correia, they are only required to prove that he kidnapped her, leading to her death.

“The government doesn’t have to prove that he murdered her,” said Zachary Hafer, a former federal prosecutor who is now a partner at Cooley, a global law firm with an office in Boston. “They have to prove he unlawfully confined, kidnapped, or abducted her and she died as a result.”

Hafer, who was part of the team that prosecuted notorious killer Gary Lee Sampson, said kidnapping cases are more often tried in state court, but in a “shock-the-conscience type of case” like this one, “you are more likely to see federal intervention.”

Correia and her 2-year-old daughter, Gabriela, had been staying at a shelter in Lynn after a fire at her Dorchester home, but she left the child with her grandmother before meeting friends to celebrate her birthday. Prosecutors said that Correia planned to spend the night at a friend’s apartment in Dorchester and pick up her child the next day, but was abducted by Coleman.

Coleman, who holds a master’s degree in experimental physics, lived in Providence R.I., and was working as an engineer for Raytheon at the time of Correia’s alleged kidnapping. She was at the nightclub Venu at the same time as Coleman, who didn’t know her but was talking to one of her friends, according to court filings.

Correia, who was born in Cape Verde and immigrated to the United States with her father when she was 3, grew up in Dorchester and was a hostess at Del Frisco’s restaurant in Boston.


The evidence that prosecutors plan to present against Coleman is graphic and voluminous, according to court filings. It includes video of Correia getting into an Uber, which wasn’t hers, then being pushed out of the car by the driver. She is seen standing in the frigid cold with her shoes in her hand when Coleman approaches. He is seen carrying her piggyback style to his car shortly after 2 a.m. on Feb. 24, 2019.

Two hours later, video surveillance footage shows Coleman dragging her partially naked and limp body onto the elevator at the building where he lived and into his sixth-floor apartment, according to court filings.

Four days later, Coleman was again captured on security video in the parking lot outside his apartment building after 1 a.m., rolling a suitcase to a red Buick sedan and struggling to lift it into the trunk, according to an FBI affidavit. Hours later, a Delaware state trooper who was responding to an alert for Coleman’s red Buick stopped him on the highway and asked if anyone else was in the car.

“She’s in the trunk,” Coleman said, according to the affidavit.

Correia’s body was found inside the suitcase in the trunk.

The windshield of the car was cracked in two locations on the passenger side, indicating a struggle, according to the affidavit. Coleman had a large bandage on the right side of his face, and when asked by a state trooper whether he needed medical treatment, according to the affidavit, he said, “It’s from the girl.”


Shelley Murphy can be reached at shelley.murphy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shelleymurph.