California authorities say they have found what they believe to be the remains of a missing California mother of three.
The Sacramento Bee reported that the discovery of El Dorado County woman Heather Gumina prompted a homicide investigation by the county sheriff’s office.
Sheriff office officials say her 44-year-old husband Anthony Gumina was arrested on Sept. 6 on suspicion of felony domestic violence and first degree murder.
Authorities served him with a no bail warrant for domestic violence and a search warrant.
In a Sept. 7 Facebook post, the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Heather Gumina’s, 33, remains have been found.
“During the search, detectives located what is believed to be the remains of Heather Gumina, Anthony Gumina’s wife, who was reported missing on July 19th,” the sheriff’s office wrote.
“At this time and in order to protect the integrity of this homicide investigation, no further information is being released,” the office wrote. The office also posted a photo of Gumina, sitting on a curb along with a small dog on his lap.
Joanna Russel, the victim’s mother, told Fox40 on Sept. 7, “We’re super sad about what happened and I don’t know if we’re ever going to be OK. I miss my daughter.”
“I’m going to grieve for a very long time,” she added. “It’s like the world’s worst nightmare.”
She added: “It’s going to be very hard to be without her, but I know that she’s in heaven now.”
A family member of Gunmina said they think he is innocent.
“I’m 100 percent positive that he didn’t do it,” Robert Shawaluk, a cousin, told Fox40. “He did nothing wrong. He loved her. He loved his wife. And for them to arrest him when he cooperated the whole time. He did nothing but cooperate with the cops.”
Heather Gumina is a mother to three children, ages four, ten and fourteen.
Gumina and her car were reported missing in July.
Authorities say they found her car weeks later in El Dorado County.
The sheriff’s office previously said it thought she might be driving the car, which has pink accents.
Over 600,000 people go missing in the United States every year, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.
Many of the missing adults and children are found safe but others are never found or are found dead.
“It is estimated that 4,400 unidentified bodies are recovered each year, with approximately 1,000 of those bodies remaining unidentified after one year,” the center stated.
As of Jan. 22, there were 15,325 open missing person cases in addition to 12,449 open unidentified person cases.
As of Dec. 31, 2017, the National Crime Information Center had over 88,000 active missing person cases across the country. But hundreds of thousands of cases were resolved that year.
Approximately 651,000 missing person records were entered but about the same number were removed.
“Reasons for these removals include: a law enforcement agency located the subject, the individual returned home, or the record had to be removed by the entering agency due to a determination that the record is invalid,” the center stated.
The first 72 hours in a missing person case is the most critical, according to criminology experts. It’s imperative to obtain information through leads before people start to forget about potentially crucial details, Dr. Bryanna Fox, former FBI agent and criminology professor at the University of South Florida, told ABC News.
“The information that law enforcement gets tends to be a little more accurate, and they are able to act on the information and hopefully get that person who is missing quicker,” Fox said. Later, there are fewer “bread crumbs,” or leads, to follow.
Dr. Michelle Jeanis, a criminology professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, said that time is an important factor because the missing person could be in danger.
After about a week, the person could very likely be dead, said former FBI Special Agent in Charge Steve Gomez. “There’s a certain point after about a week or two where you have to think, the potential that the missing person is dead and now it’s a matter of trying to find their body and bring closure to the family and to determine if you now have a homicide investigation, or suicide, or some kind of accidental death,” he said.
Epoch Times reporter Jack Phillips and The Associated Press contributed to this article.