On New Year’s Day 1991, fire emergency services were called to the scene of a residential fire in Murphys, California at 2:26 p.m. they face Carl Carlsonwho said he had just rescued his three children from a burning house – but there were others inside.
“He didn’t get in there to save his wife, Christina,” Calaveras Enterprise reporter Dakota Morlan told accident, suicide or murder,” broadcast Oxygen Saturday 8:7.
Emergency crews found Christina’s body in the bathroom of the dilapidated home. Carr told officials the fire likely started when a utility light fell. Fire officials determined the fire started just outside the bathroom. Christina has been showering while Carl works in the garage.
Seneca County Sheriff’s Office Investigating Lieutenant John Cleere said officials saw some red flags. The window of the bathroom where Christina died was boarded up. The smell of kerosene is palpable.
However, Carlson told investigators they were powerless to repair the broken glass. He said they used kerosene to heat the house, and a container of kerosene had spilled and seeped into the carpet in the days before the fire.
“On the face of it, it might have been an accident,” Claire said. “But when someone dies, it’s considered suspicious by default until you know better.”
“Based on Carl Carlson’s story, investigators are not going to just accept that it was an accidental fire,” added former state trooper Jeff Arnold.
An autopsy was performed the next day while investigators searched for clues about the cause of the fire.
Doctors found soot in Christina’s lungs, but there was no evidence she was injured or incapacitated before the blaze.
An autopsy determined that Christina died from smoke inhalation. It did not conclude whether the death was accidental or homicide.
The day after the fire, Carlson surprised Christina’s family and authorities by announcing that he was moving with his family. Daughters Erin and Kati, and son Levi, Back to his hometown in Seneca County, New York.
“He didn’t stay for any funerals or buy headstones. He just packed up and left,” Claire said.
Based on “accident, suicide or murder”, Christina’s family were so suspicious they decided to gather evidence themselves. Despite their efforts, on March 3, 1991, Christina’s death was officially ruled an accident.
“There’s just not enough conclusive evidence to say otherwise,” Moran said.
State Farm Insurance paid Karlsen approximately $215,000 for the life policy.
“I’ve worked with insurance investigators, and insurance policies don’t deny claims if there’s no arrest,” Cleere explained.
Was that money a motive for the murder? Investigators think.
Carlson went ahead and purchased a portion of the farm from his parents. About a year later, he married Cindy Best.
On November 20, 2008, 17 years after Christina died, Cindy called 911.
She frantically told the dispatcher that their truck had fallen off the jack. Levy, 23, already had a family of his own, and he was crushed below. He is not breathing.
Officials found Levi with a crushed compression wound to his chest. All indications were that he had died hours earlier.
According to Carlson, Levi was working on the truck when he and Cindy left for the funeral. When they returned, he was crushed to death by the half-ton car.
Family doctors ruled the death an accident, according to investigators. No autopsy was performed.
Christina’s mother Arlene Meltzerheard the news about Levi.
“I felt bad, but I don’t think it was an accident. I thought, ‘It happened again,'” she said.
In February 2012, Cleere received a call from He told the producers, from Levi’s cousin Jackie Hymel, who asked him if he had investigated Levi’s death. “She said, ‘It’s very likely that he was murdered by his father.'”
By talking to Cindy, Hymel hears things that arouse her suspicions.
“She talked about Carl making money from Christina’s death, and Christina’s kids never saw that money,” Moran told producers.
Carlson took out insurance on the lives of Christina and Levi shortly before their deaths. In both cases, he was the beneficiary.
Investigators reopened the case in Levi’s death. On April 9, 2012, they called Cindy Carlson, who was estranged from her husband. She agreed to collaborate and was interviewed several times over the next few months. Carlson’s image is that of a controlling, emotionally abusive narcissist.
According to Cindy, Carlson and his son have been feuding for some time, but appear to be mending. Carlson was the one who convinced Levy to purchase a $700,000 life insurance policy, which was taken out 17 days before Levy’s death.
“Cindy said she didn’t know about it until after Levi’s death. Carl pretty much spent most of his money on a get-rich-quick scheme,” says Claire.
Before separating from Carlson, Cindy had a private investigator do some research on her husband and learned that Carlson had purchased an insurance policy for her.
Cindy agrees to wear a wire to catch Carlson talking about his son’s death. Although he did not confess, Carlson admitted it, which allowed police to bring him in for questioning.
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Carlson’s account of the events leading up to Levi’s death is inconsistent. He initially said Levi was overwhelmed before going to his aunt’s funeral. Carlson then said he caused the truck to fall, freaked out, and left.
“I can’t believe for a second that he accidentally dropped the truck on top of his son,” Claire said. “But for legal purposes, it doesn’t matter. Under New York state law, it’s perverted indifference … it’s second-degree murder.”
Carlson was arrested for second-degree murder and insurance fraud. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Fortunately, an investigator in California kept copies of all records related to Christina Carlson’s death.
It has been established that kerosene was poured on the floor just before the fire was lit.
On December 8, 2012, the Calaveras County District Attorney’s Office officially reopened the investigation into her death.
Carlson’s murder trial began in 2020, nearly 30 years after her death. February 3, 2020, jury Sentence him for first degree murder. Carlson was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
To learn more about this case, watch the accident, suicide or murder,” broadcast Oxygen Saturday 8:7.