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Police looking into first wife's death after charging man in son’s alleged killing

A Seneca County man is in jail, facing accusations that he killed his son by allowing him to be crushed underneath a vehicle he was working on in 2008. Police are also looking into his first wife's death back in 1991.
Seneca County (WSYR-TV) – A Seneca County man is in jail, facing accusations that he killed his son by allowing him to be crushed underneath a vehicle he was working on back in 2008.

23-year-old Levi Karlsen died when the car slipped off of its jack, trapping him beneath. Police initially thought his death was accidental.

In March 2012, however, police say new information emerged that led to a homicide investigation and the arrest of 52-year-old Karl Karlsen on a second degree murder charge.

Karlsen is being held in a Seneca County jail and now police are investigating a previous incident in which his first wife died in a fire at a home in California in 1991.

After that incident, Karlsen moved his family to a farm in Seneca County.

Police did not suspect anything criminal until a tipster came forward with information on Levi Karlsen’s death. The tipster told the authorities that Karl Karlsen was the sole beneficiary in life insurance policies he took out on his first wife and his son.

“It was a similar situation of a fairly fresh insurance policy for a substantial amount of money,” Sheriff Jack Stenberg said.

In addition, the tipster told police that Karlsen knew his son was trapped under the vehicle for four or five hours before he finally called emergency personnel.

The 1991 fire that led to the death of Karlsen’s first wife is still considered an accident. Local police are working with authorities in California to determine whether there's sufficient cause to reopen the case.

Karl Karlsen is credited with saving young Levi from the fire in 1991, along with his two sisters.

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