A man who killed his son for an insurance payout was found guilty this week of murdering his wife more than 20 years ago for the same reason.
Karl Karlsen, 59, appeared in court in Calaveras County, California on Monday, where he was found guilty of first-degree murder by arson, the Sonora Union-Democrat reports. Karlsen’s wife Christina died in 1991 in a house fire in the family’s home – just 19 days after Karlsen took out a life insurance policy on her worth $200,000, according to the outlet.
Despite an investigation into Christina’s death, Karlsen – who moved back to Romulus, New York with the couple's three children within days of his wife’s death – wasn't charged in relation to the incident.
But, decades later Karlsen’s son, Levi Karlsen, died in similarly strange circumstances. He was crushed to death in 2008 when a jacked-up truck that he was working on fell on top of him, ABC News reported. Karl Karlsen ended up collecting $700,000 in insurance money following his son’s death, prompting an investigation in 2012, according to the network.
Karlsen pleaded guilty in 2013 in Seneca County, New York to killing his son for the insurance money, and was sentenced to 15 years to life for the crime, the Calaveras Enterprise reports. It was while serving time for his son’s murder that police re-opened their investigation into Christina Karlsen’s death. After being charged in connection to his wife's death, authorities extradited Karlsen from New York to California's Calaveras County, where he's been held since 2016, according to the outlet.
Following a trial that spanned 13 days, a jury took several hours to reach a guilty verdict.
Christina's mother, Arlene Meltzer, addressed family members after the verdict was reached, remarking, “Three years is a long time to stand firm,” according to the Union-Democrat.
The couple’s daughter, Erin De Roche, reportedly said, “I'm just happy.”
De Roche has been vocal about her father, telling ABC’s “20/20” in 2013 that she and her late brother believed that during the 1991 fire that killed their mother, Karlsen “didn’t make an effort to save her” and instead “just stood there.”
“We knew what he had done to our mother. And I knew what he did to my brother,” she said.
Karlsen is scheduled to be sentenced on March 17; he faces life without parole, according to the Union Democrat. However, his lawyer Richard Esquivel has said that his client plans to appeal the decision.
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