Search for Missing Teacher and Mother of 3 Uncovers 'Charred and Unrecognizable' Human Remains

Jeanine Cammarata and her husband, Michael, in happier times.
Jeanine Cammarata, with her husband, Michael.Facebook

The missing teacher and mother's estranged husband is now the "primary suspect," police said.

Police searching for a missing New York teacher and mother of three discovered "charred and unidentifiable" human remains Thursday in a Staten Island storage unit, authorities said.

As police await autopsy results, what had been a missing persons case "has taken a turn into a murder case," said New York Police Department Assistant Chief William Aubry at an afternoon press conference.

The "primary suspect" is Michael Cammarata, the estranged husband of Jeanine Cammarata, 37, Aubry said. She was last seen Saturday night when she left her boyfriend's house and drove off toward Queens, where she was going to visit her children, who were staying with Michael Cammarata, Aubry said.

NYPD officers officers descended on the Extra Space Storage facility after a tip led to the discovery of a woman's body inside a bag, Aubry said.

Michael Cammarata, 42, was arrested Wednesday on charges that he hit and stalked his wife in an incident unrelated to her disappearance, police said. He acknowledged hitting Jeanine several times during an encounter with Jeanine days before she went missing, authorities said. He remains in custody in Staten Island.

Investigators are still searching the storage unit and gathering video surveillance tapes, Aubry said. He declined to comment on what evidence had been gathered thus far in the case. "There's a lot of work that needs to be done" before the filing of any additional charges, he said. 

Jeanine, an elementary school teacher had filed for divorce last Thursday, according to her attorney. The two were expected in court Monday for a child custody hearing. Jeanine did not show up. She also didn't show up to work on Monday. Her boyfriend reported her missing on Tuesday.

Her attorney, Eric Gansberg, told WPIX-TV, that Jeanine was "terrified" of her ex. "My greatest fear is I will not be speaking to Jeanine again," he told the station. "And I fear the worst."

Surveillance videos show Michael carrying a large bag from his Queens apartment and then arriving at the storage business where police discovered a female body Thursday, according to the New York Daily News.

Jeanine's family and friends have frantically worried about her and said she was a devoted mother who would never abandon her children. The kids had been living with Michael because Jeanine didn't want to move them from their home, friends said.