A beautiful young paralegal found dead in her boyfriend's apartment has kicked off a flurry of speculation and interest in the circumstances surrounding her death. Julia Law, 26, was discovered naked, facedown, in a bathtub full of water inside the condo of her boss and boyfriend, high-profile defense attorney Charles Peruto Jr. Law had been dating the lawyer for about six weeks at the time of her death -- long enough for Peruto to have given her a key to his place, and almost long enough for her to finally tell her family that she was in a relationship with her boss.
"Julia was struggling," said Richard DeSipio, an associate at Peruto's Philadelphia law firm, of Julia's tentative plans to tell her family over Memorial Day weekend. "She was very much in love with Chuck."
Perhaps she was turning the plan over in her mind as she headed to Peruto's home Friday night for a long soak in his huge bathtub. "She loved his big bathtub," DeSipio said, explaining that it was a "huge soaking tub" complete with a foot rest. DeSipio claimed Law had been texting her co-workers from the firm up until 1 a.m. the morning of her death, playfully complaining to one colleague that Peruto's condo was a real "bachelor's pad" because he didn't have any scented bubble bath.
Peruto wasn't around to take his paralegal girlfriend's bath product preferences into consideration. The attorney was in New Jersey that night, staying with friends as he oversaw construction of his new home in Avalon. It appears, then, that Julia Law was alone as she settled down to relax into the wee hours of the morning.
What happened to Julia Law between those lighthearted texts and the moment when her body was found facedown in the bath water? When authorities arrived on the scene where the paralegal was found dead, they found no sign of trauma or struggle -- no reason to suspect foul play, and no way to label Peruto or anyone else as a suspect involved in Law's death. Water was reportedly found in Law's lungs, but what really caused the paralegal's death will not be determined until extensive toxicology testing is completed.
It is possible, after all, that some factor exists in Law's death that was not visible to investigators on the scene -- but officials are leaning toward ruling out foul play.
Peruto addressed his paralegal girlfriend's death in a statement obtained by ABC News: "Julia was a beautiful, caring free-spirit hippy, who I was blessed to have known. Words can't express how sad I am to finally have met someone who I believed truly loved me. You should all have someone touch your life, like she did mine. Pray for her. She was an angel."
Peruto was reportedly distraught at the news of Law's death, calling DeSipio on the phone "crying, hysterical ... It was hard to understand him." DeSipio rushed over to the condo where police and fire officials were processing the crime scene. Once authorities had finished with the scene and given Peruto permission to enter, the attorney decided to clean the bathroom himself out of respect for his girlfriend. "He wanted to personally clean the bathroom," DeSipio said. "He didn't want some stranger doing that. He wanted to give her that dignity."
Law's family has asked Peruto and other employees at the firm not to attend her funeral. The paralegal's boyfriend and co-workers will be arranging their own memorial service to show their respects.
Peruto, 58, is infamous for his work defending high-profile mob figures like Joey Merlino and Nicodermo Scarfo.