A little less than a year ago (time flies, GT), I first posted some True Crime junk about Karl Karlsen, the greedy pill addict murderer who eventually pled guilty to killing his own son for the sake of the insurance money. Karlsen killed Levi in 2008, but he wasn't arrested or even investigated until four years later. His second marriage was circling the drain, and his soon-to-be ex had been around for enough of the previous insurance bonanzas to go straight to the police when she learned he had secretly taken out a $1.2 million life insurance policy on her. He admitted to pushing the truck off its jack after luring his kid underneath, but his specialty appears to have been setting fires. He had collected the insurance money when his parked truck ignited, and when he was deep underwater in some cockamamie ranching scheme, his barn mysteriously caught fire and burnt up all his expensive Belgian draft horses. Way back in 1991, his first wife and son Levi's mother was killed in a fire twenty days after he took out a $200,000 life insurance policy on her. I said at the time that the authorities in California were taking another look at the case, and now he's been charged with murdering her for the purpose of financial gain.
Christina Karlsen never had a chance.
The flames erupted in the kerosene-soaked carpet in the hallway, blocking her escape from the tiny bathroom of the old wooden house. Her only way out, the bathroom window, was blocked by a half-inch-thick sheet of plywood that her husband had nailed from the inside just days before.
As the fire blazed outside the bathroom door, Christina Karlsen's husband, Karl Karlsen, and their three young children escaped the former mining shack in rural Northern California. Smoke poured from the attic vents while Karlsen left his wife in the burning house and drove his pickup truck down a sparsely inhabited road to find someone to call 911.
Christina, 30, died on the bathroom floor. It was New Year's Day, 1991.
Karlsen outlined for Stohlman a lengthy string of coincidences that Karlsen said led to the fatal fire: Christina had broken the bathroom window three days earlier by trying to force it open with a plunger handle, so Karlsen boarded up the window from the inside to keep out the cold. The water pipes had frozen, so Karlsen hauled 5-gallon jugs of water inside. The night before the fire, Christina mistook a kerosene container on the porch for a water jug and brought it into the hallway, where a rambunctious cat and dog later knocked it over and spilled two gallons of kerosene on the carpet. Minutes before the fire, Karlsen said, he had been fixing an attic fan and had laid a defective electric light on the china cupboard near the kerosene spill – and just outside the bathroom where Christina was taking a bath.
From his sentencing:
At the last minute, Bender also allowed a second speaker: Colette Bousson, the sister of Karlsen's first wife, Christina. Christina Karlsen died in a suspicious fire in in 1991 in California; authorities there have re-opened the investigation and are considering bringing charges against Karlsen.
"Karl, you have caused years of pain and suffering to our family," said Bousson, who flew in from her home in Northern California for the sentencing. "You left Chris in a house to burn while you drove away listening to her cry out for help. You forced your children to hear their mother screaming for help while you drove away."
At one point during Bousson's speech, Karlsen chuckled and shook his head. Throughout much of the 18-minute hearing he was impassive or smirking. The only words he spoke were "No, sir," when Bender asked if Karlsen wanted to make a statement.
In conclusion, FFFFFUUUUUUCKK this guy.