Last Updated: Tuesday, May 23, 2000 10:05 AM

Husband arrested, charged with murder

Kenneth Fitzhugh, 56, was arrested today and charged with murder in the May 5 death of his wife, Palo Alto teacher Kristine Fitzhugh, police announced today.

Fitzhugh was to be booked today in Santa Clara County jail and will be arraigned Tuesday at the North County Courthouse in Palo Alto.

Fitzhugh was arrested this morning while driving on Interstate 880 in Hayward, police said.

Police will hold a community meeting tonight at 7 p.m. to brief neighbors on the arrest. The meeting will be at Palo Alto school district headquarters at 25 Churchill Ave.

Kristine Fitzhugh's body was found by her husband and two of her colleagues lying at the bottom of the basement stairs in the family's Escobita Avenue home. They had gone to the house after Kenneth was notified that the 53-year-old Fitzhugh, a music teacher for the Palo Alto Unified School District, had missed a class that Friday afternoon.

Saying the scene revealed no signs of foul play, police initially attributed Fitzhugh's death to an accidental fall down the stairs. But a day later, the coroner determined that a fall could not have caused the type of head-trauma injuries Fitzhugh suffered.

For the next week, a team of police investigators combed the house for a murder weapon, fingerprints, fibers or anything else that might point to Fitzhugh's killer. At one point, volunteers were helping search the area with metal detectors.

Police were tight-lipped throughout the investigation, refusing to discuss specifics about the case or what any evidence may have revealed. Early in the investigation, however, police told worried neighbors that the homicide didn't seem connected to a series of burglaries that rattled the area in 1999.

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