Floridian Jessica Ryan French charged with murder in New York

1:41 PM, Mar 12, 2012   |    comments
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A Florida woman who was arraigned today at the Westchester County Court on a second-degree murder charge out of North Salem is an aspiring model with a Facebook page that includes a host of photos of her in dresses, bikinis and lingerie.

Jessica Ryan French, 24, of Lehigh Acres, Fla., arrived at LaGuardia Airport about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the company of two state troopers who escorted her from the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office to the state police barracks in Somers. There she was formally charged in the death of a 65-year-old Passaic, N.J., man.

She was then remanded to the Westchester County jail in Valhalla.

French pleaded not guilty. She spoke only briefly, when the judge asked whether she needed a lawyer.

"My dad is going over that now," said French, wearing a brown BCBG hooded sweatshirt, her hands cuffed behind her back. "I might need someone in the meantime."

She was sent to the county jail, pending her next court appearance March 21.

Meanwhile, police identified two other suspects in the case who are being held in New Hampshire. Charles Blanchard, 21, of 32 Moses Ave., Hill, N.H., and Travis Morin, 24, of 6 Jones Road, Danbury, N.H., also face murder, kidnapping, robbery, unlawful imprisonment and grand larceny charges, as does French.

Morin has waived extradition, so authorities will seek a governor's warrant to bring him to New York. Blanchard has an extradition hearing scheduled for March 15 in New Hampshire.

Police sources said French, despite living in Florida, has ties to New Hampshire.

Two horseback riders found the decomposing body of Epifanio Medina on June 12 on a riding trail off Dingle Ridge Road in North Salem. It took police about a week to identify Medina through fingerprints.

Police initially thought he may have been a homeless man living in the woods. But eight months of work by investigators in the Somers barracks resulted in police charging French with murder and other offenses.

Police, citing their ongoing investigation, declined to say how French was linked to Medina, whom family members in New Jersey described as a quiet man who lived a quiet life. He spent his days holding court in front of a Passaic liquor store and went to bed early each night, family members said.

Public records show Medina lived in Lehigh Acres in 2007.

But Medina, who had a penchant for gold jewelry and tattoos, did serve 15 years in New York state prison - from March 1976 to January 1991 - on a drug-sale conviction out of the Bronx, according to Linda Foglia, spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections.

Police said Medina was known to carry large amounts of cash.

The District Attorney's Office said police were able to solve the crime "by meticulously weaving together the movements and activities of three defendants. Facebook page, French, a hazel-eyed brunette, writes that modeling is her passion.

"I am not shy and I work hard to achieve the best end result with whomever I work with," she wrote. "I feel look's (sic) are important but there need's (sic) to be more than just a pretty face to sell a product. Personality is the key. Anyone can be beautiful, but not everyone has the charisma and charm it takes to go that extra mile.

"I am Young, Confident, Fun & Full of Energy, I'm a Dreamer, a Believer and Go-Getter, as well as Determined and Dedicated. . ."

She is being held without bail.

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