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Neighbor Charged With Murder of Philadelphia Art School Graduate

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John McDevitt John McDevitt
John McDevitt has been a reporter and editor at KYW Newsradio 1060...
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By John McDevitt, Walt Hunter, Matt Rivers and Diana Rocco

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A neighbor is being charged with the gruesome murder of a young woman whose body was found early Monday morning dumped in a vacant lot in Kensington (see related story).

Police say the suspect, 22-year-old Jeremiah Jakson, lived in a room in the same Mantua boarding house as victim Laura Araujo.  They say he is no stranger to police and has a long rap sheet of prior arrests.

Investigators think Jakson was burglarizing Araujo’s room before he killed her. Police also say he reportedly beat her while trying to get her to reveal the PIN number of her bank account.  Araujo’s duct-tape-bound body was found by a trash picker in Kensington around dawn Monday, in a duffel bag in a vacant lot, most of her worldly possessions strewn nearby.

Jeremiah Jakson

(Phila. PD photo)

Her car had been set ablaze earlier in that morning in South Philadelphia.

According to police, Jakson apparently burned himself while torching the car.  They say that when he went for treatment to a local hospital, medical personnel contacted police and he was connected with the crimes. Using recent technology (see related story), Jakson’s alleged confession was recorded on video at the homicide headquarters and may now be played in court if the case goes to trial.

Sadly, police also say that Araujo had a previous run-in with the suspect that left her so shaken she was planning on moving out of the boarding house, in the 800 block of North 40th Street, after only a week of living there. Unfortunately, she didn’t make it out in time.

WATCH: Man Who Found The Body Of Laura Araujo Speaks With Eyewitness News

In an Eyewitness News exclusive, Matt Rivers spoke with the man who found the body of Laura Araujo.

It was around 5:30 am Monday when a young man was looking for scrap metal to sell.  His search took him to the 2200 block of 3rd street, to what he thought was a pile of trash.  It was the place where the body of Laura Araujo was left in a duffle bag.

He found the body as he sifted through the debris.

“All my hairs on my body stuck up,” said the young man who asked Eyewitness News not to identify him.  “I thought it was fake at first but the way it looked, it was pale and everything.  I thought it was actually a real body.”

He was terrified and ran, alerting nearby police officers to what he found.

The crime scene was soon established, and police thanked the man for reporting what he saw, calling it the first step in finding Laura Araujo’s murderer.  Her family is in his thoughts.

“I feel bad for them.  For the loved one they have lost.”

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