A woman found dead inside her Palo Alto home last Thursday was not killed by the fire that consumed her bedroom, nor by the smoke that filled the room that afternoon.
Instead, 29-year-old Jennifer Schipsi "died at the hands of another before the fire," forensics investigators said. The killer, police say, was her boyfriend.
Bulos Zumot, 36, who goes by the name Paul, was arrested at at his business, Da Hookah Spot on University Avenue on Monday, police agent Dan Ryan said. Zumot is facing charges of murder and arson in connection with Schipsi's death.
Police and fire investigators spent four days and nights sifting through evidence at the home on Addison Avenie. Zumot set the place on fire "to destroy the evidence and conceal the murder," police Agent Dan Ryan said. "We believe this was an act of passion."
Zumot and Schipsi were a couple with an "on again, off again" relationship, police say. Their past is rocky, Ryan indicated. They even had police restraining orders against each other in the past. Associates of of Schipsi, a real estate agent, told investigators that she had "disagreements and restraining orders with different people over the years."
According to court records, Zumot was already on probation for sending threatening emails and text messages to Schipsi, one that said, "I have to get you out of my life@any price," The Daily News reports.
Zumot told the paper on Friday that he didn't know what caused the fire but said the gas stove in their rental unit had problems and said Schipsi sometimes smoked in the bed. There was also a former neighbor who had been stalking Schipsi, Zumot said.
A big surprise weekend was in the works for the couple, police said. Zumot was planning to whisk Schipsi away to Palm Desert and propose to her.
Investigators are following up on several search warrants. Police are also trying to track down some people who attended Zumot's recent birthday party.
Bay City News contributed to this report.