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French Arraigned in North Salem Murder And Kidnapping

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. - A Florida woman has been indicted for murder in the death of a New Jersey man whose body was found in Gaymark Preserve last June in North Salem, said Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore.

Jessica Ryan French, 24, of Lehigh Acres, Fla., has been arraigned on charges of second-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, second-degree robbery, unlawful imprisonment, fourth-degree grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. All of the counts are felonies, with the exception of the last one, which is a class A misdemeanor. 

The charges are connected to the death of Epifanio Medina, 65, of Passaic, N.J., whose remains were found June 12, 2011 by two horseback riders in the Gaymark Nature Preserve in North Salem. An exact cause of death has not been released by authorities.

Medina was reported missing a week earlier by family members after he was last seen June 1 outside a Dunkin Donuts in Passaic. Medina, a former resident of Florida, was known to carry large amounts of cash and wore a lot of jewelry, officials said.

French is alleged to have had two accomplices, Charles Blanchard, 22, of Hill, N.H., and Travis Morin, 25, of Danbury, N.H.. The two men have been indicted on the same charges as French and are awaiting extradition to New York.

Authorities suspect robbery was the motive. They said Medina was abducted, robbed, killed and his body later dumped in the preserve. Money and jewelry belonging to Medina were found in the three suspects’ possession, authorities said.

The Sheriff’s Office in Palm Beach County, Fla., arrested French Feb. 27 and she was transported Wednesday to Northern Westchester. She is currently being held in Westchester County Jail and is scheduled to appear in court March 21.

If convicted, all the defendants face a maximum sentence of 25 years to life.

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