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Wife of slain hairdresser charged with capital murder along with her boyfriend

The wife of a hair products mogul who was found stabbed to death in his Woodland Hills home in January was charged with capital murder Friday along with her boyfriend, the Los Angeles Police Department said Friday.

Monica Sementilli, 45, and Robert Baker, 55, were both arrested Wednesday in the San Fernando Valley and booked on suspicion of murdering Fabio Sementilli.

The body of the 45-year-old hairdresser was found in a pool of blood on the patio of his home on Jan. 23. Initially, his death appeared to be the result of a home-invasion robbery. However, after months of investigation, detectives determined that his death was the result of a plot to collect $1.6 million in life insurance, according to LAPD Robbery Homicide Capt. William Hayes.

"Fabio Sementilli was directly targeted in this case," Hayes said. "Monica Sementilli and Robert Baker were involved in an intimate relationship for a year and half."

Monica Sementilli and Baker were charged Friday with capital murder with a special circumstance of murder for financial gain, making them eligible for the death penalty. They are being held without bail.

Police say a third person was involved in the plot, but they still don’t know who that person is, and that they remain at large.

Hayes said on the day of the killing, two men were seen jogging up to the home before the slaying. Hayes said the men drove away in the dead man’s Porsche and were recorded by a surveillance camera as they abandoned the vehicle five miles away.

DNA gathered at the crime scene and in the vehicle matched Baker’s, Hayes said. Additional DNA collected at the scene belonged to an unknown person who could not be found in state and national databases, Hayes said.

Baker's DNA was in the system because he was previously convicted in 1993 of lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor and is a registered sex offender, according to Hayes.

Investigators do not believe Monica Sementilli was present during the slaying, Hayes said.

Monica Sementilli and Baker met at an LA Fitness gym in Woodland Hills, Hayes said.

Fabio Sementilli, who was born in Canada,was a vice president of education for the cosmetics giant Coty, according to Modern Salon magazine.

“Sementilli mentored tens of thousands of hairdressers with a hands-on approach either on a one-to-one basis or on a grander scale,” Modern Salon wrote.

After his death, Mirella Rota Sementilli said on Facebook that her brother had a “profound existence” that affected family, colleagues, friends and the beauty industry.

“You left behind precious memories that we will forever hold close to our hearts,” she wrote. “I will never accept the suffering they put you through because being your older sister meant experiencing all your pain with you. I'm so hurt and I hope you will give me strength and guidance to live the life you were so proud of.”

Days before his death, Fabio Sementilli had posted a photograph of his 1987 hairstylist certification on Facebook in celebration of his 30 years of work in the field.

“[Thirty years] ago today I received my hairstylist certification and my professional career started with optimism, an immigrant family work ethic with no pedigree in hairdressing to speak of but I had a strong conviction with hopes and dreams,” he wrote.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.

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UPDATES:

3:05 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from Hayes.

12:55 p.m.: This article was updated with details of a second arrest.

This article was originally published at 6:20 a.m.

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