New look at fatal Murphys fire in 1991

local@modbee.comDecember 11, 2012 

— The Calaveras County sheriff's office announced Tuesday that it is reopening an investigation into a fire that killed a woman in Murphys after her widower was indicted last month in New York in the 2008 death of his son.

Karl Karlsen was indicted in Seneca County, N.Y., on charges of killing 23-year-old Levi Karlsen, who was found crushed under a truck he was working on at the family's property.

Karl Karlsen told deputies he'd come home and found his son dead. But investigators learned this year of a life insurance policy taken out days before the death and arrested the father.

Now, investigators question whether a 1991 fire in Murphys that killed Karl Karlsen's wife was an accident. Karlsen and wife Christena Karlsen had lived at the home in the 4000 block of Pennsylvania Gulch Road where the fire occurred.

Calaveras detectives are reviewing reports and will reinterview people involved in the case, as well as interview others who may not have come forward during the initial investigation.

Christena Karlsen's father told The Associated Press that Karl Karlsen cashed in a $200,000 insurance policy after the fire.

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