The teeth of an Ocean Township woman -- discovered while her rental home was being demolished on Thursday -- match those of 65-year-old Jacqueline Terrulli, missing since the mansion was burned to the ground nine months ago, authorities said.
Terrulli was allegedly killed by her drug-addicted housemate before he torched the $1.7 million home last fall, authorities said. She was identified by her dental records, they said.
Ex-convict Ronald Teschner, 49, previously was charged in Terrulli's death. She allowed him to stay at the rental home while Teschner tried to kick a drug habit, authorities said.
Teschner is facing 16 charges related to Terrulli's disappearance, including murder, robbery, arson, aggravated assault and disturbing human remains. If convicted of murder, Teschner faces the possibility of life in prison without parole, authorities said on Friday.
A construction company was clearing the property at 86 Wickapecko Drive when human remains, specifically bones including teeth, were discovered on Thursday.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed the remains are Terruli's on Friday afternoon.
"Terrulli’s remains were discovered wrapped in plastic and buried several feet in the ground near the immediate vicinity of the burned home," Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said in a statement.
"Authorities obtained a search warrant and the remains were exhumed late last evening," he said.
Gramiccioni added that "extensive charred rubble had collapsed upon and covered the burial site. Several searches of the home had been undertaken during the investigation, including repeated searches with K-9 cadaver dogs."
"Terrulli’s body went undiscovered until yesterday, likely due to the limited composition of the remains. K-9 cadaver dogs are trained to detect decomposition," Gramiccioni said. "Terrulli’s identity was ultimately identified by dental records. The cause and manner of her death remain pending at this time.".
Christopher Swendeman, a spokesman for the county prosecutor, said that more details will be released "after the Medical Examiner completes the autopsy."
Authorities have been searching for Terrulli’s body since mid-September, scouring the woods around her house and nearby Deal Lake. Demolition of the fire-ravaged home began last month.
Teschner is currently lodged in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution in Freehold.
Prosecutors have said Teschner killed Terrulli on Sept. 12, 2019, after she caught him stealing from her, then lit her 6,000 square-foot home on fire shortly before 7:30 a.m. using nail polish remover as the accelerant.
Teschner fled to Passaic County in a white 2019 Jeep Cherokee that belonged to Terrulli after packing it with items he stole from her -- including shotguns, jewelry, clothing, bank cards and lawn equipment, prosecutors said.
In the early morning hours of Friday, September 13, 2019, Teschner was located in Paterson, alone in her Jeep, and arrested on weapons charges, the prosecutor said.
Teschner was charged two months after the massive fire and indicted on Feb. 24, 2020, by a Monmouth County grand jury on murder, arson, burglary and several other crimes. Prosecutors have said he confessed to a jailhouse snitch about her killing, which Teschner denied.
"It is with great sadness we announce that the remains found at 86 Wickapecko Drive in Ocean Township belong to 65-year old Jacqueline Terrulli, who had been missing since September 12, 2019," Swendeman, a spokesman for the prosecutor, said on Friday. "Jacqueline’s whereabouts were unknown until yesterday, after demolition crews found her remains during excavation and removal of the burned debris left from the mansion fire."
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