Melissa Molinari, the 38-year-old Long Island woman who went missing just before Thanksgiving, was found dead in a Suffolk County forest Thursday, according to local reports. The mother of four was found with more than 20 stab wounds to her torso, authorities said.
Police charged her husband, Marcello Molinari, 43, with second-degree murder. He was taken into custody and held overnight at a Suffolk County lock-up with his arraignment scheduled in a First District Court in Central Islip Friday morning.
Molinari’s disappearance gained national attention earlier this week when Joseph Petito, the father of slain 22-year-old Gabby Petito, called on his Twitter followers to aid in the search.
Police: Melissa Molinari Killed by Jealous Husband
According to WABC, Melissa Molinari was last seen alive at her Centereach home on Nov. 21, but she was not declared missing until a friend reported her disappearance nearly two weeks later on Dec. 2.
That’s when authorities began investigating, eventually uncovering cell phone data that logged Marcello Molinari as having visited the Pine Barrens Rocky Point Park in Middle Island in the early morning hours of Nov. 23 — two days before Thanksgiving.
Police found Melissa’s remains at the very same state park on Thursday. The mother of four appeared to have more than 20 stab wounds to the torso, according to preliminary examinations.
Investigators said they believed Marcello Molinari fatally stabbed his wife in the basement of their home on Nov. 23 before dumping her body in the forest some 10 miles up the road. A search of the house turned up blood and other damning evidence, the local outlet reported.
Authorities suggested the motive was jealousy – the couple was apparently on vacation to Walt Disney World last month, but cut the trip short when Melissa Molinari’s husband learned that she was allegedly having an affair.
Investigators said that after the trip, the 43-year-old husband appeared to begin plotting his revenge. He reportedly searched online for countries to which he could flee without fear of extradition.
No Bail for Marcello Molinari
At his arraignment hearing Friday, Marcello Molinari was ordered to be jailed without bail, WABC reported. A hearing later in the day will determine what happens to the couple’s four children, who range in age from 4 to 17, the outlet wrote.
“The charges were here at the courthouse. The first time he was given an attorney was here at the courthouse,” said Christopher Gioe, an attorney for the 43-year-old.
“He’s informed me that he has asked for an attorney from the beginning of this investigation and he was denied the entire time,” the lawyer continued. “There’s certainly going to be an investigation conducted by the defense in this case and we’re certainly going to proceed forward with a trial in this manner.”
Molinari was charged with murder in the second degree, a class A-I felony under New York state law. If convicted, he faces a minimum sentence of 15 to 40 years in prison, according to one legal source.
Gabby Petito’s Dad Reacts
Just days after the grieving father signal-boosted the search for Melissa, Joseph Petito posted a somber update to let his followers know she had been located.
“Why? Why do we keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result?” he wrote early on Friday. “We have to teach our young ones better to stop the cycle.”
Petito, who also lives on Long Island, has taken up domestic violence awareness as a pet cause after his daughter Gabby was found dead in September. She and her boyfriend Brian Laundrie were traveling on a cross-country road trip when she disappeared.