BSO Dive Team Stumbles Upon Car With Human Remains Inside

A routine training exercise by the Broward Sheriff's Office dive team inadvertently ended up discovering the remains of a long-missing Pompano Beach woman on Wednesday.

Charlene Azzaro had been missing since last being seen leaving her sister's home in 2013. But divers performing a training exercise in the canal located in the 3200 block of N. Palm Aire Drive discovered a 2000 gold Nissan Maxima in the murky depths of the water.

Inside the car were skeletal remains belonging to a human. Azzaro's sisters Kathleen Platt and Lauretta Patton-Mungroo -- who is the missing woman's identical twin sister -- confirmed to police that the Nissan belonged to Charlene.

"Earlier today, the BSO dive team was out here conducting a training exercise when they came across a car in the canal," said BSO spokesperson Gina Carter in a statement Wednesday. "They were able to open the vehicle and found bodily remains inside the car."

According to Carter, the dive team ran into the vehicle by complete accident.

"You can see nothing in the water," she said. "So it was really just a lucky break that they were able to find the car."

Pompano Beach Fire Rescue responded to assist the BSO, and the Nissan was pulled out of the canal.

The remains, which were taken to the Medical Examiner's Office, have yet to be identified, police say. But it is almost certain the bones belong to Azzaro, 56, who had been homeless and living out of her Nissan before disappearing.

Platt told WVSN that Azzaro had walked out of her house on August 18 of 2013 for a drive.

"I think she was coming back and something just snapped," Platt said. "I don't know. She was a wonderful, happy girl. She was smart. She was a comedian. She had me laughing so hard."

The two grieving sisters offered up a rosary prayer on behalf of Azzaro at the scene.

For now, police are still investigating all possible scenarios. So far, it's not clear how the Nissan ended up in the canal or how long it had been submerged. Foul play has not been ruled out.

"It's hard to say whether this is a suspicious death or if this was a suicide," Carter said via WSVN. "Right now, detectives are working on identifying the person and determining what happened."

Meanwhile, Platt has been grieving another tragedy in her life after her son died from a heart attack two weeks ago.

"He kept saying, 'Mom, we'll find her,'" Platt told NBC Miami. "So the detective came to the door today, and I said, 'It's bad, isn't it?' And there I am sitting there, ready to try and write thank you cards. She's in heaven with God, with my son. It's been one thing after another."

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph