East Haven police charge boyfriend with murder of the mother of their child, capping months-long investigation

Stephen Singer, Hartford Courant

The boyfriend of an East Haven woman whose body was found last summer buried in a grassy area on the edge of a parking lot was arrested Sunday and charged with murder, police said.

Jonathan Jara-Aucapina, 27, was taken into custody at a New Haven diner without incident. He is being held on $2 million bond at the East Haven Police Department.

Lizzbeth Aleman-Popoca, the mother of the couple’s 8-year-old daughter, disappeared on the night of June 30 or the morning of July 1. Her body was found two weeks later in Branford.

Jara-Aucapina, the girl’s father, is described by police as Aleman-Popoca’s longtime boyfriend.

Capt. Joseph Murgo, East Haven police spokesman, explained the months-long probe as a “very complex investigative case that took over 2,000 hours to investigate.”

“We strive as an agency for transparency, which is why it was frustrating for us to not be able to disseminate the details of this case until today,” he said.

Details known only to Jara-Aucapina would compromise evidence if police discussed the case, he said.

Investigators learned during the investigation, for example, that Jara-Aucapina “concocted a story” that Aleman-Popoca ran off, though he knew she was already dead, Murgo said.

“He then used this story to lie to her family, her loved ones and then eventually law enforcement when her family forced him to report her missing,” he said.

After filing an initial missing person’s report, Jara-Aucapina tried to conceal where he had buried her, Murgo said.

It was not known if Jara-Aucapina is represented by a lawyer.

The couple’s daughter called her father at his job to tell him Aleman-Popoca wasn’t home, police have said. When Jara-Aucapina arrived at the house, he found most of her personal belongings were still there, police said.

The family filed a missing persons complaint on July 3, the day after her 27th birthday. Police at the outset said they believed Aleman-Popoca’s disappearance was suspicious and that foul play was a factor.

Stephen Singer can be reached at ssinger@courant.com.