Jassy Correia loved to get her toddler daughter all dressed up and take her to Flames restaurant in Grove Hall to sit and eat oxtails together. They zoomed down slides at the playground, lay in bed and goofed around taking videos, and watched “Enchanted” and “Baby Shark.”
When Correia’s friends called her on FaceTime, sometimes they would see her sweet little lookalike Gabriella, and Correia laughing nearby. She was a good mother, family and friends said — it was the most important thing to her. Correia, 23, had built her life around her child, who just turned 2. She had their future planned out.
On Friday, the day after her body was found in a man’s car trunk in Delaware, authorities disclosed that Correia had been mutilated after leaving a Boston nightclub early Sunday morning. They announced that a Providence engineer had been charged with
“kidnapping, failure to report death, and mutilation of a dead body.’’
Louis D. Coleman III, 32, was captured in Delaware Thursday afternoon after a high-speed chase on Interstate 95. Coleman was taken into custody as a fugitive from justice and will be returned to Rhode Island to face the charges, prosecutors said.
Authorities are working to determine where, and how, Correia died. Coleman has not been charged with her murder.
In Boston, Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins and Boston Police Commissioner William Gross said they are working closely with authorities in Rhode Island and Delaware and intend to prosecute Coleman in Suffolk County if the evidence supports it.
He could also face federal charges, they said.
Correia “was and is a part of our community. Her family is a part of our community. And her community deserves the chance to see justice done in this city,” Rollins said.
On Friday, Rollins, Gross, and Mayor Martin J. Walsh visited Correia’s grieving relatives at their Dorchester home.
Correia was celebrating her 23rd birthday with friends at Venu nightclub in Boston’s Theatre District last Saturday night. She was last seen walking on Tremont Street early Sunday morning with a man authorities now say was Coleman.
A law enforcement official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the investigation, said Correia and Coleman are seen on surveillance video entering his Providence apartment together. In the footage, he appears to be carrying her. Correia was never seen leaving the building.
The official said footage shows Coleman leaving his apartment with some sort of baggage, possibly suitcases, which authorities believe contained Correia’s remains.
Correia’s grief-stricken family members cannot fathom why anyone would want to hurt her. Correia’s father, Joaquin Correia, 50, said Friday that he had never seen or heard of Coleman before Thursday, when police publicly identified him as a suspect in his daughter’s disappearance. A detective relayed the news of the arrest, he said.
“He told me yesterday, ‘We found the body, we got the guy who’s supposed to be responsible, who killed your daughter,’ ” Correia said. But the “why, when, how — they don’t tell me. So I’m waiting.”
Jassy Correia was independent, brave, and strong, her friends and family said.
Aniah Murray, 22, had known Correia for a decade, and said that even as a teenager, Correia was wise and kind. Murray had a hard childhood, she said, and spent time in the foster care system.
Last summer, Correia was one of the very first people Murray ever told about a childhood trauma that haunted her. Murray knew that no matter what, Correia would still love her. When Murray told her friend her secret, Correia gathered her in her arms and cried.
“I wish I could have been there for you,” Correia told her. “You need to become the woman you needed back then.”
Correia grew up in a tightknit family, Murray said. Her father and aunt raised her in a home full of extended family. Her mother lived in Portugal, Murray said, and her brother had come from there only recently. When Correia was growing up, her father was loving but strict, making sure his daughter knew how to run a household and take care of herself, Murray said.
Over the winter, the family’s house had caught on fire, and Correia moved with her daughter into a shelter in Lynn. She was working at Del Frisco’s restaurant in the Seaport, and was determined that she and Gabriella would soon have an apartment of their own, Murray said.
In December, she told Murray she had decided what she wanted to do for a career: become a party planner. She was gregarious and funny and she loved to make people smile — it was perfect, Murray thought.
Then it was over. Correia’s family knew something was wrong on Sunday morning, when she didn’t come back to her grandmother’s house to pick up her daughter. It was so unlike her.
All the family can hope for is justice.
“She did not deserve this,” her cousin, Katia Depina, said Thursday outside the Dorchester home where the family had gathered. “She went out to celebrate her birthday and never returned home.”
Murray wept when she imagined what she would tell her friend’s little girl about her mother.
“When it came to her daughter, it was like the whole world came to a halt,” she said. “This man just took her away from her child.”