ABC’s ’20/20: The Sins of the Father’ is an episode that profiles how a man almost got away with two different homicides 17 years apart by disguising them as simple accidents. Retracing the tragic deaths of Christina Karlsen and Levi Karlsen, this chapter proves that actions will have consequences even if it takes a while for investigators to resolve the matters that initially just seem to be shrouded in mystery and bad luck. Thus, with Karl Karlsen identified and convicted as the perpetrator in both cases in question, let’s uncover all that there is to know about him, shall we?
Who is Karl Karlsen?
Karl Karlsen has always lived a pretty intriguing life. Having grown up on a family farm, he had no problems raising, showing, and selling draft horses. Although, his other occupations over the years were similarly unusual. Not only did he transport nuclear weapons for the United States Air Force, but he also owned a gourmet duck farming business. Fires, he revealed to the police in 2012, have somehow always caused ruin around him, making him go “through Hell in every freakin’ way.” After all, on new year’s day in 1991, his California home went up in flames and killed his wife.
As per Karl, he was alerted of the blaze by his wife’s screams and quickly managed to save their three children by chucking them out of their family residence, but he could not rescue Christina. Her passing was ruled to be an accident, and he cashed in on her $200,000 life insurance policy within days before relocating to his home state of New York. His kids – Erin, Kati, and Levi Karlsen – suspected that he was behind their mother’s death, but nothing was proven until last year. And regrettably, this came to light only because of Levi’s shocking and disturbing death.
In November 2008, 23-year-old Levi was doing a few odd jobs for Karl to support his two daughters following his divorce when he suddenly lost his life. As a goofy and often misunderstood metal music lover, he never truly got along with his military-trained father. Yet, he was still trying to change his ways in the hopes of a better future with his daughters. On that fateful day, Levi was repairing a truck at his father’s request when the single jack fell off, and the vehicle landed on top of him, crushing him. Once again, it Karl who received the $700,000 life insurance policy payout.
By 2012, however, Karl’s second wife had started having suspicions about her husband’s actions and intentions. Thus, she found herself speaking to law enforcement officials and agreed to wear a wire to record discussions about Levi’s demise. The family’s patriarch soon described the incident as an “opportunity” that he couldn’t help but take full advantage of. Karl was subsequently charged and arrested with murder, and once he admitted to the monetary motive, Christina Karlsen’s case was reopened in California. He was apprehended for that soon after.
Where is Karl Karlsen Now?
Karl Karlsen pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in connection to his son’s matter in 2013 and was subsequently sentenced to 15-years-to-life in prison in Seneca County, New York. In court, he said that he knowingly didn’t attempt to save Levi even when he knew that his son was still alive under the truck. Because the vehicle dropped due to his own actions and the plea agreement, the insurance fraud charges were dismissed. Though it also came to light that Karl had made his son take out the policy just 17 days before his death. Christina’s was taken out 19 days prior.
Karl was extradited to California in 2016 and held at the Calaveras County Jail until he stood trial for Christina’s first-degree murder. On February 3, 2020, he was found guilty. So, on March 17, he was handed a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Karl will start the life penalty in California after he completes his term in New York. Thus, today, at the age of 61, he is imprisoned at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York. He’ll remain there until, at least, his parole eligibility date in 2027. Karl has since appealed his conviction in California.
Read More: Where are Karl Karlsen’s Daughters Now?