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A New London man accused in a crime spree that included the home invasion of a 91-year-old handicapped man and a break-in at his adoptive mother's home, was charged additionally Wednesday with burglarizing the Groton Heights Baptist Church on Broad Street.
Jaden Alvarez, 20, of 171 Oneco St., Apt. 3, who has been held in lieu of $1 million at the Northern Correctional Institution since he was arrested Dec. 2, was charged with third-degree burglary, third-degree criminal mischief and sixth-degree larceny.
Police served him with two new arrest warrants when he appeared in New London Superior Court. In addition to the church burglary, he was charged with violation of probation for an undisclosed crime he committed as a juvenile.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit in the church burglary case, Alvarez, who is also known as Elijah Baatz, admitted to breaking into the church and committing other crimes with his cousin, 19-year-old Marcus Delgado of Groton, when New London police detectives interviewed him following the home invasion arrest. Alvarez, who was being monitored electronically while on probation, told officers he was able to slip off his ankle bracelet after losing weight.
Groton City police allege that Alvarez and Delgado used a crowbar to pry open a basement window and enter the church, which is located on 72 Broad St. in Groton, during the early morning hours of Nov. 22. The men switched off the electrical breakers to cut power to the building in an effort to thwart the alarm system, then stole about $14 from an offering box and a variety of snack food from the youth office.
During the investigation, church Pastor Bruce Peterson told investigators the homes of church secretary Mellanie Baatz, who is Alvarez's estranged adoptive mother, and her best friend had been burglarized on two separate Sundays while the women attended church services. Questioned by police, Baatz said someone had smashed her bedroom window on Nov. 10 and stolen $1,300 from the church's Upward Soccer program and a silver watch belonging to Alvarez's father.
Alvarez and Delgado, who is being held in lieu of $750,000 at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution, are accused of burglarizing a New London ice cream shop where Alvarez used to work as well as homes on Pacific Street in New London and Orchard Terrace in Groton. In addition to forcing entry into the home of the elderly New London man, masked and wielding a stun gun, they are accused of carrying out a home invasion at the Crystal Avenue home of a man who once lived with Alvarez and attempted to adopt him.
Alvarez also is charged with possession of a pistol without a permit and possession of a stolen firearm. New London police said that as they were executing a search warrant at his Oneco Avenue apartment on Nov. 29, Alvarez arrived home in the passenger seat of a car and acted suspicious when they questioned him as he approached his apartment. Officers patted down Alvarez and found an empty pistol holster, then searched the car, where they found a backpack containing a 9 mm pistol that had been stolen out of a Montville home on Nov. 12, a 15-round magazine, 13 live rounds of ammunition, a military identification card belonging to Alvarez, and his ankle bracelet, according to a court document.
A 2011 graduate of New London High School, Alvarez had changed his name from Elijah Baatz because he had been in trouble as a youth, according to the court documents, which also list him as a member of the Connecticut National Guard's military police force. According to Col. John Whitford, director of communications for Connecticut National Guard, Alvarez was scheduled to begin basic training in November for a position with the military police company in West Hartford but was discharged as a result of his arrest. Alvarez, who will be represented by attorney Matthew G. Berger, is due back in court on Jan. 30.
The next court date for Delgado, who is represented by attorney Bruce A. Sturman, is Jan. 14. A note on the two cousins' court files indicate that they should have no contact with each other and should not appear in court on the same day. The cases will be prosecuted by State's Attorney Michael L. Regan.
Staff writer Izaskun E. Larrañeta contributed to this story.