Authorities have identified the homicide victim found Saturday in Shakopee as a St. Paul teenager who had left home a day earlier with a man.

Jonathan Easterling, 17, apparently died from head injuries, said Dr. Lindsey Thomas, head of the Minnesota Regional Coroner's Office in Hastings.

Shakopee Deputy Police Chief Jerry Poole said that a suspect has been arrested and that the investigation continues. He said that no weapon was recovered and that the motive is still unclear.

Easterling's family last saw him the morning of Nov. 23, when he talked with a man on the phone and then left in a car with him, said his mother, Oraetta West. She said she doesn't know why her son would have gone to Shakopee, where police found his body the next morning in a ditch.

His sister, Angelica Easterling, 16, said he seemed uncertain while waiting to be picked up about whether he should go with the man. She said the family called hospitals and authorities trying to find him Sunday, but didn't know what happened until detectives came to their East Side house Monday evening. He didn't have identification when he was found.

"He was very unselfish. He was the type of kid if another kid was being bullied, he would try to protect that kid," West said. Her son, the oldest of four siblings, liked sketching cars and playing clarinet, she said. He wasn't attending school and was searching for what he wanted to do in life, she said.

Angelica Easterling said her brother was full of life and sensitive to others' feelings. "He could make bad situations funny," she said. He also did impersonations of family members, including his mother, "that had me cracked up," his mom recalled.
"He had a free spirit."

Berneice Easterling, who lived with the family this year, said her grandson was always helpful. "Sometimes he would come in late and say, `Grandma, is there anything you want?' " she said. "He was very caring."