A manhunt is underway for the boyfriend of a beloved Waterbury, Connecticut, nightclub owner whose body was discovered in a wooded area almost 10 miles away from her business and home, police said.
Eight days after Janet Avalo-Alvarez was last seen by her friends, family and co-workers on Nov. 12, investigators from the Waterbury Police Department confirmed the "worst nightmare, fears of the family, friends," Lt. David Silverio said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Authorities were lead to an area near Wolcott Road and Route 69 in Wolcott, Connecticut, on Tuesday. They found a body and turned it over to the city's medical examiner.
An autopsy revealed the body was Avalo-Alvarez's and that she had been killed by "neck compression," Silverio said.
"We are going through a lot of pain," Grisela Guirreio, a family friend, said to ABC Hartford, Connecticut, affiliate WTNH at a candlelight vigil Wednesday evening.
Police said Avalo-Alvarez, 26, owner of the La Guakara Taina Bar on East Main Street, worried her family with "unusual" behavior on Nov. 13 when she left her car parked behind the club, abruptly stopped communicating with her loved ones and wasn't posting on social media.
During the search for Avalo-Alvarez, her live-in boyfriend and business partner Alfredo Esmerli Peguero-Gomez fled the state, police said. His car was found Nov. 15 in a parking lot at Newark International Airport in New Jersey, police said in a Nov. 18 statement.
Peguero-Gomez is a dual citizen of the United States and Dominican Republic.
"Mr. Alfredo Peguero-Gomez is a suspect in the homicide of Ms. Janet Avalo-Alvarez. It is an open an active investigation," Silverio said in a email to to ABC News on Thursday.
Phone calls made by ABC News to Peguero-Gomez were not successful.
The couple had no history of domestic incidents, but their relationship was described by friends and co-workers as "being up and down, and they argued frequently about personal matters and business issues," Silverio said.
"The detectives are working with U.S. Marshals Service to locate Mr. Peguero-Gomez," Silverio said.