The body of a woman recovered on Pine Island Tuesday has been identified as that of a Cape Coral teacher reported missing last July.
Amy Patterson, 41, of Bokeelia, was identified through dental records, according to a statement issued Thursday by the Lee County Sheriff's Office.
The cause of death has yet to be determined and will require further forensic analysis, officials said.
The body was discovered after the Lee County Sheriff's Office Major Crimes Unit received information on Tuesday concerning its location from Daniel Proctor, 45, the victim's boyfriend and ex-husband, officials said. Deputies, detectives and crime scene technicians searched the densely wooded area near Howard Road and Bahama Way, Bokeelia and discovered and retrieved the remains late Wednesday afternoon.
Proctor was a suspect in the disappearance of Patterson, a teacher a Mariner Middle School who was reported missing July 25, 2011 when she did not show up for the start of the school year. Detectives feared she was the victim of a domestic homicide.
Proctor had reportedly fled in her vehicle, which was recovered in Alabama. He stole another vehicle, a 1997 Ford Explorer, and a .380 handgun before leaving a note indicating that he may have been heading back to Florida.
Proctor was apprehended in Okeechobee on Sept. 5, 2011. He was sleeping in a stolen vehicle, at 3:45 a.m., when members of the U.S. Marshals Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force approached him in a hotel parking lot. He was taken into custody without further incident and transported back to Lee County where he remained until extradited to Alabama on a warrant for grand theft auto and theft of a firearm.
Lee County Sheriff's Office detectives had been in Alabama to testify in that trial, which resulted on convictions on both charges.
He had not been charged in connection with Patterson's disappearance.
Patterson's co-workers are now dealing with confirmation of her death.
"Lee County Public Schools is deeply saddened by the loss of former Mariner Middle School science teacher Amy Patterson," the district said in a prepared statement issued Thursday. "Our thoughts and prayers are with her family during this tragic time.
"While only with the District for a short time, Ms. Patterson proved to be a dedicated professional and her love of science and teaching was evident from the first day. She was the kind of person you look for when hiring a new teacher and she will be missed by the Mariner Middle School Family."
Counselors are ready to work with students and staff and will be available if they are needed, officials said, adding they are grateful to area law enforcement.
"The District would like to take this opportunity thank the members of the law enforcement community who placed a high priority on this situation," the statement reads. "Their tireless efforts are greatly appreciated."