Police discovered badly burned human remains in a storage locker on Staten Island early Thursday and believe they may be those of a well-liked elementary school teacher and mother of three who was going through an acrimonious divorce, officials said.
“The remains were charred and unidentifiable and currently the New York City medical examiner was conducting an autopsy to determine the cause of death,” said NYPD chief of citywide investigations William Aubry in a briefing for reporters Thursday.
As of late Thursday, the remains had not been positively identified nor had a cause of death been determined, said a spokesman for the city medical examiner.
But their discovery in a storage facility off Arden Avenue in the southern section of Staten Island is now part of the investigation into the disappearance of Jeanine Cammarata, 37, who was last seen alive in the Rockaway section of Queens on Saturday, Aubry said.
While the case initially came to police as a missing-persons report, Aubry said that after Det. Michelle Mazza of the 120th Precinct talked to Cammarata’s family and friends, investigators quickly suspected that foul play might be involved.
Police arrested Cammarata’s estranged husband, Michael Cammarata, 42, of Rockaway, earlier this week for allegedly assaulting and stalking her, but as of late Thursday had not charged him with his wife’s disappearance. Michael Cammarata reportedly was seen on surveillance tapes at the storage facility. Aubry said the human remains were discovered in a duffel bag in the storage area.
Aubry would not comment about the existence of any videos because, he said, the investigation was in a very active phase. Since Michael Cammarata has an attorney, police had not confronted him with any evidence. Jeanine Cammarata had recently served her husband with divorce papers, police said.
“We are still searching through that storage facility,” Aubry said, who declined to say who had rented the facility or how cops came to focus on the storage unit.
Aubry hinted that license plate readers may have assisted in the investigation. Police are still looking for Jeanine’s 2017 White Chevy Cruze, with license plate number HSK 3417.
Both Jeanine Cammarata and her husband had a history since 2016 of domestic issues, authorities have said. Aubry added there was no existing order of protection.
“There is a lot of work that needs to be done,” Aubry told reporters.