A Florida woman is being held at the Westchester County Jail pending her next court appearance after she was arraigned today on seven counts, including murder and kidnapping.
Jessica Ryan French, 24, of Lehigh Acres, Florida, was linked by police to the murder of Epifanio Medina, whose body was discovered in the town of North Salem last summer.
Police said two horseback riders discovered the decomposing body of the 65-year-old male in the woods of North Salem on June 12, 2011.
The victim, a Florida resident had been living in Passaic, NJ, was known to carry large amounts of cash and wore a lot of flashy jewelry, according to the Westchester County District Attorney's Office. Officials said he frequented a liquor store in Passaic, NJ and was last seen exiting that store on June 2, 2011 at 4 p.m.
Family members reported the Medina missing on June 5, 2011, investigators said.
Through "an extensive, wide ranging investigation" state police identified the deceased about a week after he was discovered. By "meticulously weaving together the movements and activities of the three defendants," state police connected their actions with the victim, police said. Investigators did not say how French might have known Medina.
French was arrested by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office on Feb. 27. State police troopers from the Somers baracks met French at LaGuardia airport on Wednesday. She was then remanded to the Westchester County Jail.
Investigators said French's two accomplices were also arraigned today and are awaiting extradition to New York State. Their names are Charles Blanchard, 21, of Hill, New Hampshire, and Travis Morin, 24 of Danbury, New Hampshire.
Morin is currently being held in jail on unrelated charges in Hillsboro County, New Hampshire. charges. He has not waived extradition and governor’s warrant will be executed. Blanchard is also in jail on unrelated charges in Merrimack County, New Hampshire. He has an extradition hearing on March 15. A spokesperson for the District Attorney's Office said French was an aspiring model.
On her Facebook fan page, French writes "Modeling is my passion. I am not shy and I work hard to achieve the best end result with whom ever I work with."
French faces the following charges:
- two counts of Murder in the Second Degree, class “A-1” Felonies,
- one count of Kidnapping in the First Degree, a class “A” Felony,
- one count of Robbery in the Second Degree, a class “C” Felony,
- one count of Unlawful Imprisonment, a class “E” Felony,
- one count of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, a class “E” Felony
- one count of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, a class “A” Misdemeanor
Her next court appearance will be on March 21, 2012.
All the defendants face a maximum of 25 years to life state prison. Assistant District Attorney Nadine Nagler of the Career Criminal Bureau is prosecuting the case.