Father charged in deadly 2004 fire 

Two years after two toddlers were consumed in a house fire, sheriff’s deputies Monday dropped a bombshell, announcing the arrest of the toddlers’ father on charges of arson and murder.

Two-year-old William "Billy" Schuttloffel and 3-year-old Charles "Charlie" Schuttloffel Jr. died in the inferno that engulfed their home in San Gregorio for hours on the afternoon of May 4, 2004.

The father, Charles Schuttloffel, a fisherman and construction contractor, was arrested at 7:30 a.m. Monday at his Half Moon Bay home without incident, sheriff’s Lt. Lisa Williams said. The arrest follows a drawn-out investigation and criminal grand jury inquiry in which Schuttloffel was an early suspect, Williams said.

On May 4, 2004, Schuttloffel called 911 at 12:24 p.m. and told dispatchers that his house, located at 900 Seaside Road in unincorporated San Gregorio, was on fire and his two sons were trapped inside.

He was reportedly burned at the time of the blaze. Authorities said he rushed back into the house to try to save the two boys. Schuttloffel also threatened to kill himself over their loss as the house burned. He was taken into custody for observation, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Officials said Monday that Schuttloffel is charged with one count of arson and two counts of murder.

"Evidence located during [the] investigation revealed that the suspect — in the deliberately set fire — was the children’s father," Williams said.

Police remained tight-lipped Monday about what evidence was recovered at the house and what reason Schuttloffel, 36, might have for allegedly setting the house on fire until after the grand jury investigation is unsealed in coming weeks.

Such cases are "extremely complicated" and "tedious" due to so much evidence being burned, Williams said, explaining why the arrest took so long.

A woman who answered the family’s home phone Monday said the family was offering no comment at this time.

Schuttloffel, who is scheduled to be arraigned today, could face a maximum sentence of the death penalty, Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. The last time a San Mateo County jury returned a death sentence was when Stanislaus County prosecuted Scott Peterson in 2005, Wagstaffe said.

The last locally prosecuted case a jury returned a sentence of "death" in was 1994, according to Wagstaffe.

Early rumors that a methamphetamine laboratory at the home may have caused the fire proved unfounded, Wagstaffe said.

"The investigation concluded that there was no meth lab being operated there," he said.


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