Death Penalty Sought In Fatal Fire Paul Camiolo, 33, Is Accused Of Killing His Parents In Their U. Moreland Home For Insurance Money.

Posted: March 30, 1999

He stands accused of the most horrific of crimes: Killing his sickly parents by torching their Upper Moreland house, with them inside, to escape the burden of caring for them and to collect an estate worth more than $400,000.

Now, Montgomery County prosecutors want Paul Camiolo to pay the ultimate price: They will seek the death penalty against him, Deputy District Attorney Mark Miller said yesterday.

``We believe there are possibly three aggravating circumstances'' that would justify Camiolo's execution, Miller said during a brief court hearing at which Judge William Furber denied bail for the defendant.

Miller would not say what those aggravating circumstances were, but said they would be filed before Camiolo's formal arraignment, which has not yet been scheduled.

Camiolo, 33, of Holland, Bucks County, was charged with murder, arson and insurance fraud on Jan. 20. Authorities contend that he set the Sept. 30, 1996, fire that killed his 81-year-old father, Edward Camiolo, and fatally injured his 57-year-old mother, Rosalie Camiolo. Rosalie Camiolo died Dec. 18, 1996, from her injuries.

The crime was especially heinous, authorities say, because both elder Camiolos were physically frail and not very mobile at the time of the fire. According to court documents, the father needed an electronic lift to go up and down stairs and was recovering from chemotherapy for bladder cancer, and the mother had suffered a series of strokes and several falls shortly before the fire.

Paul Camiolo, who is being held in Montgomery County Prison, yesterday appeared ready to deny the charges as he was led, handcuffed, from the courtroom.

``I look forward to my day in court,'' Camiolo said before being shushed by Alan Josel, one of his three attorneys. Another Camiolo attorney, Thomas Kometa, has said the fire was caused by Rosalie Camiolo's careless smoking.

Nearly two dozen friends and family members packed the Norristown courtroom to show their support for Camiolo. Many said they found it difficult to reconcile the accusations with what they knew of the defendant and his parents.

The supporters said they knew a giving, caring man who enjoyed living with his parents, who never complained about them, and who gladly took them to family picnics and to the annual Camiolo family trek to Polenta Night at the Sons of Italy in Warrington.

``He was very devoted to [his parents],'' said Vince Camiolo, the defendant's cousin. ``He didn't have a lot of outside interests all the way along the line. He is unusual, but that doesn't mean you can make him guilty.''

Vince Camiolo also noted that Paul Camiolo had passed a lie-detector test in which he denied responsibility for the fire.

A private detective hired by one of Camiolo's attorneys administered the test on June 4, 1998, according to a copy of the test provided by Vince Camiolo.

Paul Camiolo's boss, Bill Burns, also came to the hearing to show his support.

``This is an outrage,'' Burns said. ``I've never heard him say one negative thing about his mother and father. He goes out of his way to help everybody.''

Burns said he was still paying Camiolo his salary and benefits at Shopman Inc., Burns' Ivyland software company, because he was a model employee.

His customer-service job will be waiting if Camiolo is acquitted, Burns said.

``I really miss him, I'll tell you that,'' Burns said. ``He was good with the clients. He empathized with them. He never got short with them.''

Being in prison has not changed Camiolo's nature, said Pat Burns, Bill Burns' wife.

``My son is using his car now,'' Pat Burns said. ``Paul's helping everybody even from where he's at.''

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