Woman charged with murder and arson in death of man on Long Island

MINEOLA, Long Island (WABC) -- A woman is under arrest on charges she killed a man on Long Island in 2018 and set his home on fire.

54-year-old Jennifer Gross of Long Beach was taken into custody Friday and charged with second-degree murder and second-degree arson.

James Coppola of Howard Beach was found dead inside his vacation home in Centre Island in November 2018.

The fire was initially labeled suspicious because of the intensity of the flames. An autopsy revealed the 75-year-old was dead before the fire started.

Police say Gross was Coppola's mistress for over 20 years, and that there was a history of physical altercations between the two. He had an active order of protection against her.

According to police, she went to the house that night asking for money and he refused. Gross allegedly beat him with an object believed to be a pot or pan, killing him, then set the fire to cover it up.

"Numerous case reports where they had physicality, fights with each other," said Nassau County Det. Lt. Steven Fitzpatrick. "She had stolen items from him."

Police said the turning point in the investigation came when it was determined that Gross had allegedly pawned Coppola's jewelry.

"We had her on our radar," said Fitzpatrick. "And then when that item showed up pawned, that it was the jewelry he wore on the night he was killed, obviously it pointed to her."

Gross was arraigned Saturday at First District Court in Hempstead. She was ordered held without bail.

Gross said before her arraignment that the "truth will come out in court."

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