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Seneca County man charged with son's murder, 4 years later

Posted at: 11/24/2012 11:49 AM
Updated at: 11/24/2012 8:37 PM

nullA Seneca County man is charged with murder, four years after the death of his son.

52-year-old Karl Karlsen of Romulus is charged with murder in the second degree, for the death of his son, Levi, in November of 2008.

Seneca County Sheriff's deputies were called to Karlsen's home November 20, 2008, after Karlsen's wife called 911 saying her stepson, Karlsen's son, had been trapped under a car he had been working on.

Deputies say Karlsen told them Levi, 23 years old at the time, was working underneath the vehicle in a barn. Karlsen and his wife left to attend a family event around noon. When they came home around 4 p.m., Karlsen told deputies that he found Levi trapped, motionless, underneath the vehicle which had fallen off the jack. Levi was taken to Geneva General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Sheriff's officials say at the time, there were no indications of foul play and Levi's death appeared to have been a tragic accident.

Then, in March of 2012, investigators say they received information that indicated Levi's death may not have been accidental. According to Seneca County Sheriff Jack Stenberg, investigators learned that a substantial life insurance policy had been taken out on Levi Karlsen just days before he died. That policy named Karl Karlsen as the sole beneficiary.

Officials say details surrounding the accident surfaced, indicating that the actions of Karl Karlsen had resulted in the truck falling and pinning Levi underneath. Police say when he went to check on Levi, Karl Karlsen pretended to discover the accident, which prompted the 911 call from his wife.

“To think that a father could cause a vehicle to fall off a jack crushing his son and then leave for four hours knowing all the time that his son was pinned under the truck apparently dead is unconscionable. Then, to put on an act for arriving first responders was part of a well-planned event staged by Karl Karlsen,” Sheriff Stenberg said.

After an eight-month investigation into the new circumstances of Levi's death, Karl Karlsen was arrested Friday night and charged with murder.

Investigators are also now looking into a fire in 1991 in California, in which Karlsen's first wife died. Sheriff Stenberg says local officials will be working with investigators in California on that case.

Karlsen is currently in the Seneca County Jail without bail.