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Connecticut Woman Convicted Of Drugging, Asphyxiating 8-Year-Old Son And Setting Fire To Home

Karin Ziolkowski published a Tweet, asking, "Why did I have a child?" Days later, she allegedly asphyxiated her son before setting two fires in their Connecticut home. 

Woman Convicted Of Drugging, Asphyxiating 8-Year-Old Son

A Connecticut woman on trial for drugging and asphyxiating her 8-year-old son before setting fire to their home was found guilty of murder.

Karin Ziolkowski, 46, was convicted Tuesday in the New Haven Superior Court for the 2016 murder of her son, Elijah Ziolkowski, New Haven State’s Attorney John P. Doyle Jr. announced Wednesday. She was also found guilty of arson for purposefully setting two fires inside their Meriden home — about 20 miles north of New Haven and 20 miles south of Hartford.

“Our thoughts are with Elijah’s family at this time, and we hope this verdict eases some of the suffering they’ve endured after the unimaginable loss of a child,” Doyle stated.

On Nov. 14, 2016, at around 7:15 a.m., firefighters responded to the Davis Street home, according to an arrest warrant cited by CT Insider. Neighbors at the time expressed their fears that both mother and son were still inside the blazing home when officials arrived.

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Responders soon broke their way into the locked residence, fighting against “zero visibility” brought on by heavy smoke. They eventually found both Ziolkowski and Elijah on a bed in the child’s first-floor bedroom, according to the Connecticut outlet.

Ziolkowski was transported to a medical center and treated for smoke inhalation and “an altered mental status,” per the arrest affidavit by Meriden Police.

Despite attempting lifesaving measures, Elijah was pronounced dead at a separate area hospital.

A police handout of Karin Ziolkowski

Arson was soon suspected, and a fire marshal determined a tiki torch was used to start two fires inside the home; one in the child’s bedroom, and one in the basement, according to the Hartford Courant. NBC New Britain affiliate WVIT reported tiki torch oil was also discovered on the clothing of both Ziolkowski and her son.

Dr. Gregory Vincent with the state’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner listed Elijah’s death as a homicide, crediting asphyxia and acute diphenhydramine intoxication, an antihistamine commonly used in Benadryl, according to the Insider.

Dr. Vincent found no soot in the boy’s lungs, indicating he was dead before the fire’s smoke could reach him.

Vincent said it was unlikely that the dose — nearly doubled the prescribed amount — was enough to kill Elijah; however, the drugs “potentially placed him in a twilight state of incapacitation,” according to the warrant.

Karin Ziolkowski denied having anything to do with her son’s death and claimed she couldn’t remember anything about that day, according to court records cited by WVIT. In the affidavit, Ziolkowski admitted, however, she was in a tumultuous relationship with the boy’s father, Marc Ziolkowski, and that they were in the middle of a divorce, the Insider reported.

Ziolkowski and her stepmother accused Marc of being verbally abusive, according to the Courant.

Ziolkowski reportedly asked Marc’s permission to take Elijah out of the state and move to North Carolina, though she said Marc wouldn’t agree. Relatives also contacted Meriden police after the boy’s death and confirmed that Mr. and Mrs. Ziolkowski often fought, the arrest warrant stated.

According to Courant, a judge dismissed the pair’s divorce case just weeks before Elijah’s death, citing a lack of diligence.

Following the fire, suspicions soon fell on Ziolkowski, particularly when relatives reached out to police and alerted them to several concerning Twitter posts, according to the Insider. One, posted just two days before the fire, stated, “Why did I have a child?”

Marc Ziolkowski told police his estranged wife lived with depression, according to the Courant.

Ziolkowski moved to North Carolina sometime after Elijah’s death and was officially charged with murder and arson in October 2017, according to Fox Hartford affiliate WTIC-TV.

Ziolkowski maintained she could not remember the day of the fire, which did not impede doctors ruling she was competent to stand trial, according to the Record-Journal.

State’s Attorney Doyle thanked multiple agencies involved in the investigation following the jury's guilty verdict, per Tuesday’s release.

“We would also like to extend our appreciation to the Meriden police, firefighters, and EMTs, as well as those in the Division of Scientific Services and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner who worked on this case,” Doyle stated. “Though they were trained to handle investigations involving the deaths of children, we know this work can take a toll both physically and emotionally.”

Karin Ziolkowski faces life in prison and is scheduled to appear for a formal sentencing hearing on Jan. 10, 2023.

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