NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The NYPD said they found the “charred and unrecognizable” remains of a body at a storage facility on Staten Island amid the desperate search for a mother and teacher who has been missing since the weekend.
Police are working to positively identify the body as Jeanine Cammarata.
The remains were found at the Extra Space Storage facility on Arden Avenue near Arthur Kill road early Thursday.
Web Extra: NYPD On Discovery Of Human Remains Amid Search
“We are continuing our search of the storage facility for additional evidence,” said NYPD Assistant Chief William Aubry.
Sources say the NYPD has video that allegedly shows Cammarata’s estranged husband Michael Cammarata and another person carrying something heavy in a bag from a Queens address.
Another video of the estranged husband shows him carrying that same bag at the Extra Space Storage facility on Staten Island, sources say.
Aubry called Michael Cammarata the “primary suspect” in the case.
Michael Cammarata was arrested and charged with assault after he admitted hitting her. He has also been charged with stalking, Aubry said. He’s not been charged in her disappearance.
“Right now, he’s being held on unrelated assault and stalking. With the discovery of these human remains, these human remains, the investigation has taken a turn… into a murder investigation. So we’re working with the Staten Island District Attorney to establish probable cause and justification to charge him with murder,” Aubry said.
Police were led to the storage facility by a Crimestoppers tip, sources said.
Aubry said the NYPD was still looking for Jeanine Cammarata’s 2017 white Chevy Cruze, license plate No. HSK8417.
Police have not said who rented the storage facility but confirm it is where a body was found.
It is feared this could be the body of missing mom Jeanine Cammarata.
Her children have been placed in the care of the Administration for Children’s Services, Aubry said.
“I’ve used that facility myself, I know it, so it’s surprising it’s right here,” one man told CBS2’s Dave Carlin.
“The only thing I hope is that the children come out OK because it’s a terrible thing. That’s the mother of their children. That’s a horrible thing,” another man said.
Jeanine Cammarata was last seen on Saturday night by her boyfriend when she dropped him off at his apartment on McVeigh Avenue in Heartland Village. He reported her missing Tuesday.
The 37-year-old mother of three is a teacher at P.S. 29 in Castleton Corners.
Her mother is trying hard not to think the worst has happened.
“I miss her and I love her. Jeanine, please let us know where you are. I’ve been up all night worrying,” she told CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez.
Her sister told CBS2 she also worked at a local Dollar Store to make ends meet. She hasn’t shown up for either since last week.
Her worried loved ones want her safe return.
She dropped her boyfriend at his McVeigh Avenue apartment on Staten Island Saturday night and didn’t show up for a Monday morning custody hearing for her kids.
“I understand that she’s going through a very bad divorce. I don’t know if she’s afraid, she’s afraid to come out,” her mother said.
Longtime friend Jessica Pobega told CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis she messaged Cammarata on Facebook Monday afternoon, but she’s convinced it wasn’t her friend responding.
“This is not her. I know her well enough to know that her disappearing like this is not normal,” she said.
Pobega begged the person on the other end to call her immediately.
“I was like, ‘Call me right now, you need to call me right now, I need to hear your voice, I don’t believe you, I don’t believe it’s you,'” she said. “I even asked when’s the last time I saw you, and the person couldn’t respond to it. They didn’t answer, they just kept saying, ‘I’m OK, I’ll call you soon.'”
Pobega wrote “You need to contact someone now because we are going to the police station.”
The writer on the other end claiming to be Cammarata said she couldn’t call because she was with her estranged husband Mike and their kids.
Pobega, still unconvinced it’s Cammarata writing, “I will never ever speak to you again if you don’t call me right now.”
“She works two jobs to support her family, she’s always trying to provide for her kids, you know, she’s a hard worker,” said Perez.
Police said her roommate also received a text message from Cammarata on Monday saying she’s OK, but her roommate does not believe Cammarata wrote the text.
“She told me that the way it was worded it was not Jeanine, because she would have known right away the way they speak,” Perez said.
Perez is hoping Cammarata just needed some time away and is OK.
“Jeanine come home, come home. There’s a lot of people that care about you, just come home,” Perez said.
Cammarata is 4 feet 11 inches tall, about 120 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.
Police said they spoke with her boyfriend and he is not considered a suspect.
Aubry said the NYPD gets dozens of missing persons cases each week, between 50-60.
Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to call NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or 1-888-57-PISTA (74782) for Spanish. You can also submit a tip via the Crime Stoppers website, by Tweeting @NYPDTips or by texting a tip to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577.