‘She was terrified of him’: Estranged husband of missing SI teacher in police custody on assault, stalking charges

NEW SPRINGVILLE, Staten Island — The estranged husband of a missing Staten Island teacher was in police custody Wednesday on charges of assault and stalking.

Jeanine Cammarata, a 37-year-old mother of three, remains missing. It's been more than four days since anybody's heard from her.

Human remains were found at a Staten Island storage facility early Thursday, according to police. The remains have not been identified, and police would not say if the person found may be Cammarata.

At this point, the charges against her estranged husband are not directly in relation to Cammarata's disappearance, police said. People close to her remain concerned.

"I'm like very nervous," said Jose Perez, Cammarata's friend and landlord. "She wouldn't harm a fly."

Cammarata was reported missing by her current boyfriend, who lives on McVeigh Avenue. Even though police visited his house as part of their investigation, he's not considered a suspect in the case, according to law enforcement sources.

The NYPD confirms that the estranged husband of the woman last seen around 9 p.m. Saturday is in custody.  Michael Cammarata, 42, is still being questioned by detectives in the 120th precinct under the assault and stalking charges.

He was mentioned frequently in texts between Jeanine Cammarata's cellphone and that of her best friend, Jessica Pobega over the past few days.

In the texts, she says "I am with Mike and the children," among other messages meant to reassure, but when Jeanine Cammarata did not call and talk with her best friend, as requested, Pobega questioned, via text, if it was indeed her friend texting her back.

"It's me," read the responding text from Jeanine's phone. Pobega is still skeptical, since her best friend never phoned her.

Also, Jeanine Cammarata's attorney on Wednesday expressed deep concern.

"My greatest fear is I will not be speaking to Jeanine again," said Eric Gansberg. "And I fear the worst."

"She was terrified of him."

Gansberg was hired by Cammarata late last year. Cammarata informed her attorney she left their residence in mid-2017 "due to domestic violence."

There was no legal custody arrangement between Cammarata and her estranged husband, and she was content with having her children live with him in a house they were familiar with, Gansberg said.

She'd missed a divorce and custody hearing on Monday that she had requested.  Cammarata, a teacher since last October, also has a second job at a Dollar Tree on Victory Boulevard.  She has not been at that job, or at her main job teaching first grade P.S. 29, all week.

"You gotta'(sic) feel for her family; have to worry for her, her kids. I mean if in fact the father did something nefarious, then children may have lost both mother and a father." "She was terrified of him," Gansberg told PIX11 News.

"I loved her, like, a lot," said one of her students, Shashaun, whose mother allowed him to speak with PIX11 News.  "And now, I don't know where she is."

Nobody — not her students, best friend, or her sister, who arrived to New York from Alabama -- knows where she is.

While police continue to interview Jeanine's estranged husband Michael Cammarata, the many people close to her say they hope to get answers as soon as possible.

"If somebody harms her, man," said Perez, "just come forward, because nobody is going to forget about Jeanine."

Cammarata is about 4 feet, 11 inches tall. She has brown eyes and brown hair. Anyone with information is asked to contact police.

Submit tips to police by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), visiting http://www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or texting 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577. Spanish-speaking callers are asked to dial 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).

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