Updated 12:47 p.m.
A New Britain man is facing charges including felony murder after police said he allegedly beat his mother to death at Jensen’s Trailer Park, stole her car and then drove back to his home in New Britain last Saturday.
Officers took James D’Aquila, of 50 High St. in New Britain, into custody Thursday night at his home, where officers discovered his mother’s car. D’Aquila, 34, is facing charges of murder, felony murder, first-degree robbery and third-degree larceny.
He was held in lieu of a $1.5 million bond and is scheduled to appear in Bristol Superior Court for arraignment this morning.
Police said a neighbor alerted police Thursday afternoon after calling to ask for a welfare check on Donna D’Aquila, of 59 South Road, and said the 64-year-old resident of Jensen’s Trailer Park had not been seen for several days.
"She had at least two cats and we knew she had been in the hospital several times before, so we wanted to just see that the cats were alright," said Jeannine Chasse, Donna's next door neighbor. "We were shocked when we heard she was dead."
Sgt. Lowell DePalma said officers found Donna D’Aquila’s body on the floor inside her 59 South Road home around 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon. She appeared to have died as a result of blunt force trauma, but police are awaiting an autopsy report from the state's Chief Medical Examiner in Farmington. A report is expected later Friday afternoon.
DePalma said the body was discovered by an animal control officer who was sent to do a welfare check on the property.
After finding the body, the animal control officer was immediately able to determine the death was suspicious and detectives were called to the scene. The case remains under investigation.
"Neighbors told our detectives that there had been an altercation Saturday, but it was never reported to police," DePalma said.
DePalma said evidence collected from the scene indicated that James D'Aquila was involved. Officers were able to find enough probable cause for his arrest. Donna D'Aquila's car was found in the driveway of James D'Aquila's home, police said, and has been seized as evidence.
Neighbors described Donna D'Aquila as a quiet but friendly person. They said she had been a resident of Jensen's Trailer Park for about five years, moving in just before her 60th birthday.
Claude Boutote said he knew something was wrong after the lights in her home remained off for several days.
"She had told us several times that she's afraid of the dark," Boutote said. "The lights were always on when she was there, day or night."
Neighbors said that both Donna and James D'Aquila admitted to suffering from mental health disorders. Police were not able to confirm this Friday morning, however.
"It's sad really. You never expect something like this, but especially not in our neighborhood," he said.