Man arrested on murder, fire charges

October 19, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
In Palo Alto police say what at first looked like a fatal house fire was really arson to cover-up a killing. The victim was 29-year-old Jennifer Schipsi, a local real estate agent, and her live-in boyfriend is accused of murder.

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Police say an autopsy that was completed on Monday morning confirms what they suspected early on, that 29-year-old Schipsi was dead even before the fire at her house even started.

When firefighters responded to a fire on Addison Avenue on Thursday, they found the body of Schipsi in the bedroom. Now, four days later, Palo Alto police say they know how the 29 year old ended up in the fire and why.

"We believe this was an act of passion. We believe it was an act of domestic violence that led to her death and then we believe the arson was meant to cover up her murder," said Palo Alto Police Sgt. Dan Ryan.

Palo Alto police arrested Schipsi's 36-year-old boyfriend, Bulos Zumot on one count of homicide and one count of arson. He's the owner of Da Hookah Spot, a smoking lounge on University Avenue.

Investigators say he and Schipsi were in a volatile relationship that included three arrests for domestic violence battery.

"She has had restraining orders against him in the past, but she had an on-again, off-again relationship with him for several years. She was currently living with him at the house on Addison Avenue at the time of her death," said Sgt. Ryan.

Schipsi worked as a real estate agent for Alain Pinel Realtors. Police aren't saying how she was murdered, nor are they revealing how Zumot started the fire. Schipsi had just moved to Palo Alto a month ago.

According to court documents, Schipsi had applied for a restraining order against two former friends of Zumot, but police say they are not suspects -- they believe Zumot acted alone.

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