Joyce Aparo, Karin Aparo: Glastonbury, Connecticut, Dennis Coleman ‘Beyond Obsession’ True Story On ‘The Perfect Murder’


Joyce Aparo’s murder by Dennis Coleman, the boyfriend of her daughter, Karin Aparo, will be documented on a new episode of The Perfect Murder on Investigation Discovery. The episode titled, “Mother Dear,” will chronicle the disturbing Glastonbury, Connecticut murder case. In the 1990s, the true story aired on television as a movie of the week.


The Perfect Murder: “Mother Dear” episode based on Joyce and Karin Aparo

An overprotective mother wants nothing but the best for her daughter, a violin prodigy. But when the mother disappears and is later found strangled to death, a family secret is revealed.


Court records show that Joyce Aparo, a 47-year-old single mother, and social worker, vanished from her Butternut Drive condominium #3 in Glastonbury in 1987. Police recovered her white 1986 Volkswagen Jetta in a stream. The license plate had been removed. That same year, her body was found under the Fall River bridge. According to the book “Beyond Obsession,” an eleven-year-old boy stumbled upon the remains while walking his dog.

When Joyce Aparo’s bruised body was retrieved, it was clothed in a nightgown. A yellow paper towel was stuffed in her mouth, and a pair of pantyhose was wrapped around her neck. In the 1994 movie, Beyond Obsession, which was based on the true story, the missing mother was clothed in red satin or silk pajamas.


Everyone felt deep sympathy for Karin Aparo, who was left alone after her mother’s death. What no one knew was Karin Aparo, 16, had allegedly “begged” her boyfriend, Dennis Coleman, 19, to kill her mother. At least, that’s what Dennis Coleman said when he was first arrested.


What detectives did next was unravel the very complicated life of a daughter, whose life was punctuated by years of psychological manipulation and physical abuse by Joyce Aparo, a highly critical, cruel, and controlling mother.


Joyce Aparo tried to have a perfect life. In the movie, Karin Aparo, whose name was changed to Traci DiCarlo, tried to kill herself because living with her mother was like living under a black cloud.



[via Beyond Obsession Blogspot]

Those who knew the true account of Karin and Joyce Aparo’s life, agree that Joyce Aparo killed her daughter’s spirit and often confused her by showering her with love one minute and emotionally damaging her the next minute. In her diary—and in letters—to Dennis Coleman, Karin Aparo described a painful life of isolation because her mother wouldn’t allow her to associate with common people or listen to regular music.


Experts weighing in on the case say they believe Joyce Aparo was suffering from some sort of mental illness and was most likely abused when she was a child. It appeared that Joyce Aparo’s entire identity was tied to her desire to be perfect. She also had an unhealthy obsession with protecting her daughter from a life of misery due to bad decisions and bad men.


The real Karin Aparo was found not guilty in the death of her mother. Although many still believe she conspired with her boyfriend to kill her. Dennis Coleman said he killed Joyce Aparo to save Karin and to save their love, a love he claimed, Joyce Aparo tried to destroy.

Karin Aparo, Joyce Aparo, and Dennis Coleman Timeline

  • June 1986: Karin Aparo and Dennis Coleman meet for the first time in the parking lot of her condo.
  • August 1987—Joyce Aparo is found dead. A funeral is held. Burial takes place at Mount Saint Benedict Cemetery in Bloomfield.
  • August 30, 1987—Karin Aparo is arrested for planning Joyce Aparo’s killing.
  • November 1987—An affidavit shows Dennis Coleman accused Karin Aparo of begging him to kill her mother. He also said she turned over a letter to the police, which implicated him in the murder.

“I was in tears on the outside of (my girlfriend’s bedroom) window, telling her I couldn’t do it. She was in tears inside telling me I had to.” (New Haven Register (CT)

  • 1987—Christopher Wheatley, 19, is charged with hindering prosecution. He is released on $50,000 bond.
  • February 1988—Charges against Christopher Wheatley are dismissed. Prosecutors promise immunity and probation.
  • May 26, 1988—Prosecutors seek to try Karin Aparo as an adult.
  • May 1990—Trial begins for Karin Aparo. She cries during Dennis Coleman’s testimony. Karin takes the stand in her own defense and denies asking Dennis to murder Joyce Aparo. A teacher and family members tell the jury about the abuse Karin received. A psychologist says Karin Aparo had fantasized for years about killing her mother, stating that it was the way she coped with the abuse. Spectators stood in line to get into the packed courtroom. The judge in the case wants the jury to decide based on the evidence, not because they feel sorry about Karin’s past.
  • June 29, 1990—Karin Aparo is found not guilty. Outraged residents make angry calls to the attorneys’ offices.
  • November 1990—Dennis Coleman meets a woman named Margaret and marries her in a prison ceremony. According to New Haven Register, she wore a black dress on her wedding day while Dennis Coleman was outfitted in his prison uniform and shackles. It is believed the couple eventually had a child together.
  • 1991—“The book, “Beyond Obsession: The Shocking True Story of a Teenage Love Affair Turned Deadly,” is released.
  • April 1994—Beyond Obsession, the movie starring Victoria Principal, airs on ABC. It is directed by David Green. In the movie, the controlling mother is impeccably dressed and suffers with migraine headaches.
  • The names are changed to Elenor DiCarlo and Traci DiCarlo, and instead of playing the violin, the child plays the piano.
  • 1996—A judge rules that Karin Aparo won’t be retried in the case.


Where is Dennis Coleman Now?

Dennis Coleman went to prison and served more than twenty years in prison. He was released between 2012 and 2014.


Where is Karin Aparo Now?

According to our public records research, Karin Aparo lives in Missouri. At one time, she lived under her married name. She also uses another last name.


For more information about the Joyce Aparo case, tune into ID’s The Perfect Murder this Thursday night at 9 p.m.



[Main Image Dennis Coleman/Karin Aparo via]

Traciy Curry-Reyes

Traciy Curry-Reyes is the founder and editor-in-chief of TV Crime Sky. She began her career as a true crime & entertainment freelance writer in the 1990's for her website, The Movies Based on True Stories Database/Archives. She has contributed content to other websites, such as and Traciy also appears as a true-crime expert and commentator on TV One's Fatal Attraction, For My Man, and Justice by Any Means; Investigation Discovery's Murder Calls and Scorned; Oxygen's Snapped; FOX's Crime Watch Daily; and Lifetime Television's Killer Kids.