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He Got Away With Wife's Murder, Until He Killed Their Son

Karl Karlsen convicted of killing 2nd family member for insurance money
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2020 10:25 AM CST
Karl Karlsen is shown in this Nov. 24, 2012 file photo.   (AP Photo/Seneca County Sheriff’s Office, File)

(Newser) – Cindy Karlsen was right to be worried when her husband, following the 2008 death of his son, received $700,000 in insurance money and invested some of it in a $1.2 million life insurance policy for her. She donned a wire and in 2011 recorded Karl Karlsen admitting to intentionally causing a vehicle to fall on his son hours after the 23-year-old signed paperwork naming his father as the sole beneficiary of his life insurance policy, per the New York Times. It turns out that wasn't the first time the New York man had engineered such a scheme. Sentenced to 15 years to life after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in 2013, Karlsen was found guilty Monday of murdering his first wife for insurance money in California in 1991. Prosecutors said Christina Karlsen, 30, was trapped in a bathroom of the couple's Murphys home when her husband set a fire in the hallway.

Following a finding of accidental death, Karlsen collected $200,000 from a life insurance policy he took out 19 days before Christina's death and moved with his three children to Seneca County, NY, where Levi Karlsen would later die, per Syracuse.com and the Sonora Union Democrat. In the aftermath, authorities in California revisited Christina's death, for which her mother blamed Karlsen. "I just knew that he had something to do with it," the 78-year-old tells the Times. Christina was trapped by a boarded-up window, reports Fox News, while the rest of her family escaped the blaze that was fueled by what prosecutors described as carpet covered in kerosene. Karlsen, 59, who faces life without the chance of parole at his sentencing on March 17, plans to appeal the jury verdict, though his and Christina's daughter is more accepting of it. "I'm just happy," she tells the Union Democrat. (Read more murder stories.)

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