Over a thousand people visited an Ettingville funeral home to pay their respects to 19-year-old Jessica Tush. Her ex-boyfriend Thomas Paolino was officially charged with her murder, as well as desecrating her body, and his bail was set at $1 million.
Tush was last seen at her job at a Staten Island Mall store on Wednesday, and her body was found in a shallow grave in NJ's Pine Barrens on Friday. Tush was planning on attending the wake of a friend who died in a car crash, and authorities believe Paolino lured his ex into his car by telling her they would drive to the scene where her friend died.
The Staten Island Advance now reports one of her friends had received a text message from Tush saying "A black man is following me." However, the friend was suspicious, because "the text message addressed the friend by her full name, instead of using a nickname or an abbreviation." When Paolino was taken in, he apparently asked investigators if they were looking into the "black man," which, per the Advance, "raised eyebrows" and suggested he sent the message to cover his tracks.
Paolino, whose abusive behavior apparently spurred Tush to break up with him, is pleading not guilty. His lawyer said his client's father is "going to do everything to help his son," while Tush's father said, "I trust they'll do all they can to put this monster away."