The boyfriend of Kiera Bergman is now facing a murder charge after her remains were found earlier this month.
Investigators recommended that Jon Christopher Clark, 23, be charged with first-degree murder, improper removal of body and evidence tampering in connection with his 19-year-old girlfriend’s death.
Bergman’s remains were recovered last week in a remote Arizona area. She’d been missing for more than a month, though it was not clear how long her body had been there.
Bergman moved from San Diego to Phoenix in March to live with Clark, but had moved out prior to her death, according to reports. Clark was the last person to see the teen alive.
He’d previously told the Huffington Post that they had argued about money on the Aug. 4, the day of the teen’s disappearance, and she walked out of his apartment that afternoon.
“When she left there was no immediate concern because we have had arguments in past where either me or her have left for an hour or a couple at a time to go clear our head," he said. "I didn't really find it unusual until she wasn’t in contact with me."
Bergman’s family previously expressed they thought Clark might have had something to do with her disappearance, but they didn't want to jump to conclusions.
“We believed from the beginning he was involved, but without any information we didn't want to put him out there as a bad person without knowing some facts," Bergman's father, Chris Bragg, told Phoenix ABC affiliate KNXV on Tuesday.
The family said the murder charge comes as a relief.
"In a way, I'm happy," Bergman’s mother, Kiersten Bragg, told the station. "I pray that the situation opens up a lot of especially young women's eyes to the dangers that are out there and that you think twice before you get involved with certain people."
Clark was arrested last month on unrelated charges of aggravated identity theft and forgery.
A judge set Clark's bond at $1 million after he appeared in court Tuesday on the new charges. Clark has not yet entered a plea, but previously denied having a hand in Bergman's disappearance, writing in an Aug. 17 Instagram post that he wanted to set the record straight with anyone who might suspect him of wrongdoing.
“I love Kiera with all my heart and would never do anything negative to her or put her in harms way,” he wrote. “... I have been nothing but open and honest with investigators and Kieras family.”
Clark's next court date is set for Sept. 18.