The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 16, 2012

Murder suspect will be returned

Sandra K Reabuck

— The Meyersdale murder suspect who was picked up Wednesday in Louisiana is expected to be returned to Pennsylvania within days to face a charge of homicide in the strangulation death of a 19-year-old woman, state police said Friday.

Police said Jonathan William Beal, 23, has waived extradition proceedings, clearing the way for him to be transported to Somerset County.

Police were arranging for his transport, and no details were released.

Once he is brought back to Somerset County, the suspect is to 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 by a hiker Sunday in a shallow grave off the Great Allegheny Passage, a biking and hiking trial in Larimer Township. Both lived near the trail.

The victim died of strangulation by ligature, but police have not disclosed what was used to strangle her.

Authorities allege that Jackson was killed Sept. 14, the day she was last seen alive with Beal.

Although 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 on Oct. 29.

The U.S. Marshals Service Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force and officers from the Jefferson Parish, La., sheriff’s office took Beal into custody around 6:45 a.m. Wednesday at a private residence in Marrero, a New Orleans suburb. Beal since has 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 allege 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 thought she was pregnant with Beal’s child, authorities have not commented on that report.

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