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Karl Karlsen: Family, Friends Share Suspicions

Updated: Friday, July 12 2013, 04:11 PM EDT

Seneca County, N.Y. -- More suspicions surrounding the death of Karl Karlsen’s wife and son surfaced in the wake of his arrest for second Degree Murder.

Karlsen was arraigned on that charge last week after authorities reinvestigated the death of his 23-year-old son Levi in 2008.

Following that arrest, the father of Karlsen’s ex-wife Christina said he always harbored his own suspicions about how his daughter died in a 1991 house fire in California. In that case, as in Levi’s death, authorities say Karl Karlsen collected sizable claims from life insurance policies he took out shortly before each died.

"I knew he (Karlsen) was guilty a long time ago, 20 years ago," Art Anderson told an ABC affiliate in Sacramento, California on Monday. "I thought I would see him skate for the rest of his life. I'm sorry it took this long but I'm glad to see it happening."

In 1991 Karl Karlsen was living in California with his wife Christina and three children. Levi was a month shy of his sixth birthday when his father reportedly rescued him and his two sisters, one older and one younger, from a fire at the family’s home.

Christina died in that fire and her father said Karlsen collected about $200,000 in insurance money and moved back to Seneca County with his children.

Seneca County records show Karlsen purchased a Yale Farm Road property in the Town of Varick from his father in 2001 for about $65,000.

Once back in New York Karlsen married his current wife Cindy and a source close to the Karlsen family said they had one child together. In Seneca County Karleson’s father was the longtime County Highway Superintendent and Karl was one of seven children.

On November 20, 2008 Levi Karlsen was 23 years old when he was found dead in the family’s garage. Seneca County Sheriff’s Office Investigators state that Karl Karlsen and his wife Cindy attended a family function between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Upon their return home Karl reportedly discovered his son Levi’s body in the garage, pinned under a pickup truck he was supposedly working on.

The death was originally ruled accidental, but in March 2012 investigators developed new information that prompted another investigation into Levi’s death. Karlsen took out a “substantial life insurance policy” on Levi just days before his death according to Seneca County Sheriff Jack Stenberg.

In town court files inspected by 13WHAM News, the investigating deputy described Karlsen’s alleged crime in the following manner:

“…He (Karl Karlsen) caused said death by pushing a 2006 Chevy c/k 15000 pickup truck, bearing (license plate #), off the jack that was supporting the aforementioned vehicle subsequently ending up on top of Levi H. Karlsen who was laying under the vehicle.”

Matt Meckley, a family friend of Levi Karlsen’s, spoke to The Break Room morning show on 96.5 WCMF Tuesday morning and was asked by co-host Bill Moran if he had any suspicions following Levi’s death:

“Oh definitely,” Meckley said. “Because Levi was very good with trucks and everything like that and we were figuring why didn't he use blocks to hold the truck up? So it seemed a little fishy at first.”

Meckley was also asked if Levi ever talked about the fire that he escaped in California when he was a little child:

“Levi did mention it,” Meckley responded. “He sometimes mentioned that he had nightmares about it and how he could hear his mother screaming asking for help.”

A source close to the Karlsen family tells 13WHAM News that Levi left behind two children of his own after his death. Levi’s older sister and younger sister have since moved away from Finger Lakes region; all three siblings just a year or two apart in age. 

That same source said the whereabouts of Karlsen’s current wife Cindy were not immediately known but the family was aware of tension between her and Karl for many months and they had not been living together for some time. 

Karlsen is due back in court Thursday at 5 p.m. and 13WHAM News is unaware of any lawyer he may have retained. 

Karl Karlsen: Family, Friends Share Suspicions

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