A Husband Murdered, a Wife and Her Lover Arrested: Inside the Fabio Sementilli Case
On Jan. 23, 2017, Fabio Sementilli was home alone in the backyard of his Woodland Hills, Calif., home when two people wearing hoodies sneaked onto his property.
As the 49-year-old hair care executive and father of three was watching TV, he was attacked from behind, suffering seven stab wounds to the neck, chest and thigh. His femoral and carotid arteries were cut.
After the vicious attack, the assailants ransacked Fabio and his wife Monica's bedroom and removed the DVR from the garage where the home security footage was stored. The intruders then fled in Fabio's 2008 Porsche 911, which was found abandoned about five miles away two days later.
Around 5 p.m. that fateful day, Fabio's youngest daughter Isabella arrived home, saw bloody shoe prints and blood on the floor and found her father slumped over in his chair outside.
His shocking death, on the patio where he loved to smoke cigars, sip tequila and post motivational videos on social media, sent shockwaves through the hair care industry, where the globe-trotting hair stylist and Wella executive was a star.
"Fabio had no enemies," says Oliver Adams, an industry colleague, in this week's issue of PEOPLE. (The case will be featured on tonight's episode of PEOPLE (the TV Show!).)
"He would charm you with his personality and his wittiness," adds friend Ramsey Sayah, a hair stylist and entrepreneur. "It was terrible to think that this is the way Fabio had died because he was such a great guy. You don't think anyone deserves to die that way, but especially not a really good person, that you really love and you know is kind and loving. It just didn't make any sense."
Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.
At first, Los Angeles police believed his death was the result of a home invasion burglary gone awry. But soon, their focus moved closer to home.
On June 14, almost five months after the murder, police arrested Fabio's wife, Monica, and her lover, Robert Baker, a convicted sex offender and ex-porn-actor-turned-racquetball instructor, and charged them with murder, with the special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and financial gain, which made them eligible if convicted to life without the possibility of parole.
For more on the tragic death of Fabio Sementilli, subscribe to PEOPLE now, or pick up this week's issue, on newsstands Friday.
Prosecutors alleged that the lovers concocted the plan to kill Fabio in order to collect life insurance money.
"Monica fully intended for Fabio to be murdered," Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman told a grand jury. "She wanted him out of the way because she wants to be with Robert Baker. She's unhappy in her marriage, even though at the same time she's acting like the loving, adoring wife."
Monica, now 49, and Baker, now 58, have pleaded not guilty.
"I wish we knew who the true murderer was," says Monica's attorney Leonard Levine. "All we do know is that it was not Ms. Sementilli. She loved her husband very much."
Baker's attorney declined comment.
Earlier this year, a Superior Court judge vetoed an attempt to drop the special circumstance allegations in the case. The order to shelve the allegations came from recently-appointed District Attorney George Gascon as part of his new reforms. The directive was criticized by Fabio's sisters and son.
"By dropping the special circumstances, justice is threatened," Fabio's son Luigi wrote to the court. "The truth cannot come to light in these circumstances."
Luigi added, "I will never get to speak to my father again. I will never get to experience his warmth, his love, his confidence, or his endless generosity. None of us will. We lost the patriarch of our family."
The trial is scheduled for April.
PEOPLE (the TV Show)! is a half-hour daily TV show inspired by the brand's unique combination of the most popular celebrity and inspirational human-interest stories, including entertainment news, exclusive interviews, feature stories, beauty and style, true crime and more. The show airs Monday-Friday in all 12 Meredith markets, including Atlanta, Phoenix, St. Louis, Portland, Nashville, Kansas City, Hartford-New Haven, Greenville-Spartanburg, Las Vegas, Mobile-Pensacola, Flint-Saginaw and Springfield-Holyoke.