Heather Gumina, 33, was last seen on July 16 shortly after leaving a hospital following treatment for a broken collarbone
A California man stands accused of murder after authorities say they found human remains believed to be those of his wife, who disappeared nearly two months ago.
“The missing person case of Heather Gumina has transitioned into a homicide investigation,” the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office said in a social media post announcing the arrest on Friday of 44-year-old Anthony Gumina.
“It’s like the world’s worst nightmare,” Heather’s mother, Joanna Russell, said after hearing the news, reports Sacramento TV station KTXL.
“My daughter was one of the most giving, loyal people I’ve ever known,” Russell told the outlet. “I’m going to grieve for a very long time.”
Heather, 33, a mother of three, was reported missing in a public appeal for help by the sheriff’s office on July 19. She had last been seen in the Pleasant Valley area three days earlier, on July 16, not long after she was released from a hospital, where she was treated for a broken collarbone.
At the time authorities announced their search both for Heather and her missing 2005 black Infiniti G35 with pink bow stickers on it that she was “likely driving.”
On August 9, the sheriff’s office reported the abandoned vehicle had been found, but did not say where or by whom as the search for Heather continued.
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On Friday, according to the sheriff’s office, Anthony Gumina was arrested on an outstanding warrant for domestic violence. At the same time, authorities with a search warrant canvassed an unidentified area of Pleasant Valley.
“During the search, detectives located what is believed to be the remains of Heather Gumina,” the sheriff’s office said in the social media post.
Authorities arrested Anthony on a charge of first-degree homicide, but declined to release any other information “to protect the integrity of this homicide investigation.”
Jail records show he is being held without bond in the El Dorado County jail. An attorney who might speak on Anthony’s behalf was not immediately identified.
“He did nothing wrong. He loved her. He loved his wife,” Anthony’s cousin, Robert Shawaluk, told KTXL. “And for them to arrest him when he cooperated the whole time. He did nothing but cooperate with the cops.”
The criminal charge brought added heartbreak to Heather’s family. Her mother had continued, through last week, to post on social media about her hopes for her daughter’s safe return.
“It’s going to be very hard to be without her,” Russell said, “but I know that she’s in heaven now.”