Peruto, colleagues grief-stricken over death of young paralegal
Friends and colleagues remember Julia Law, 26, the girlfriend of lawyer A. Charles Peruto Jr. found dead Saturday in his condo.
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FOR JULIA Papazian Law, Friday night was a time to relax alone, watch a Damon Wayans movie and soak in the luxurious tub in the swanky Rittenhouse Square condo of her boss, high-profile defense lawyer A. Charles Peruto Jr., who was her boyfriend of two months.
Just after 10 the next morning, a maintenance worker discovered Law, a 26-year-old paralegal, dead, facedown in the bath water.
There was no sign of struggle, nor any evidence to suggest foul play, a homicide investigator told the Daily News last night.
A single prescription bottle bearing Law's name was found, but what kind of medication it held remains unclear, the investigator said. Results of an autopsy had not been released last night.
Richard DeSipio, a lawyer in Peruto's law firm near Fitler Square, said detectives told him they found vodka, Red Bull and Diet Coke in the upscale two-bedroom home on Delancey Place.
Peruto, 58, and Law, a 2010 Drexel University grad, had separate plans for Memorial Day weekend, DeSipio said.
Law was going to Absecon, N.J., with her mom and sister, while Peruto, who headed to the Shore on Thursday night or early Friday, had an event in Avalon with his family, DeSipio said.
Peruto, who called Law his "soulmate hippie" whom he was blessed to have known, was overseeing construction on his new home in Avalon.
Before tragedy struck, there was a possibility the couple would have met somewhere on the Shore later in the weekend, DeSipio said.
"I know Julia wasn't crazy about Avalon. She didn't like it. She liked Margate," DeSipio said. Peruto sold his Margate home in 2007 for $2 million.
Reached by phone yesterday, Law's relatives declined to comment and asked for the media to "respect our privacy."
Law's stepfather, Joseph Casella, called DeSipio yesterday to request that Peruto and his firm's staff stay away from her funeral, DeSipio said.
"If we were there, the focus would be on her death," DeSipio said Casella explained. "And they wanted the focus to be on her and the family."
Law would have turned 27 yesterday. The office staff was going to celebrate with a dinner at the Center City Capital Grille last night, DeSipio said.
Instead, while Peruto's office was open, the mood was somber with some grief-stricken employees saying they felt numb.
"It doesn't feel real," DeSipio said.
"It's awful," said Aisha Davis, a secretary who sits at the front desk and was friends with Law. "It's just so hard."
Peruto is planning a prayer service for Law at the office next week that he hopes will coincide with the unveiling of a commissioned portrait of her.
When asked if Law seemed to be troubled in any way, Davis said, "I only saw the good and happy side of her. Maybe she didn't want me to judge her . . . but I only knew of happy things of her day. I don't know of any personal troubles."
Davis said the law office is extremely close-knit and everyone celebrated Davis' graduation from Temple University at Collingdale Park on May 18.
Law and Davis texted each other frequently when not at work, Davis said.
In the last text Davis received, Law wrote that she had just enjoyed the 1995 comedy "Major Payne," starring Damon Wayans as a once-hardened Marine who attempts to train a bunch of misfit JROTC kids.
The text was delivered about 11:30 Friday night.
In another text that night to a colleague, Law jokingly bemoaned that Peruto's condo was a real "bachelor pad," because it was void of any scented bubble bath, according to DeSipio.
Peruto has returned to Philadelphia, but told reporters he was too distraught to talk.