Prosecutors say 43-year-old Marcello Molinari planned the murder for weeks after learning of her alleged extramarital affair. He is being held without bond.
As CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reports, loved ones raced away from court Friday as police continued scouring the Molinaris' Centereach home for evidence.
"All the lives that were destroyed in this, it's just a terrible story," Suffolk Homicide Commanding Officer Det. Lt. Kevin Beyrer said.
According to officials, on Nov. 5, the family abruptly left Disney World after a confrontation about a marital affair.
Melissa Molinari, a 38-year-old mother of four, was last seen in public at her son's soccer game and coach party on Nov. 21.
On Nov. 23, police say Marcello's phone GPS pinged in the Pine Barrens.
The couple's four children, ages 4-17, spent Thanksgiving without their mother.
On Dec. 2, a friend, not Marcello, reported Melissa missing, and on Dec. 3, Marcello's GPS again pinged back in the Pine Barrens.
Officials say on Dec. 8, a K-9 reacted to blood in the Molinaris' basement and in Melissa's minivan.
"We are working under the theory that the house was the crime scene, the car was used to transport her and she was placed in the Pine Barrens," Beyrer said.
Police say Marcello underwent facial plastic surgery, joined a dating website and researched non-extradition countries.
"He's maintaining his innocence. The first time he heard about the charges was here at the courthouse," defense attorney Christopher Gio said. "He's never been arrested before. He's never been in trouble and is gainfully employed. He was in the IT business."
But prosecutors say there was marital strife and jealousy.
When they recovered Melissa's body, she had sustained 20 stab wounds and was wrapped in garbage bags, towels, blankets, saran wrap and duct tape.
The four children are now in the family court system to determine if they will be placed with a relative or friend or enter the foster care system while their father awaits trial.
Editor's note: This story was first published on Dec. 10.
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