Justine Wilbur and Luke Karpinski met as high school sweethearts and both went into the area of patents. However, they died together with their three children in what police say was a mass murder suicide.
Luke Karpinski, who worked as a patent examiner, is the suspect.
The five bodies were discovered after the family’s home caught on fire in Sheffield, Massachusetts. Those who died were Karpinski, his wife, and their children, 7-year-old twins and a 3-year-old child, according to News 10.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The District Attorney Says the Deaths Were a Murder Suicide With Luke Karpinski the Likely Assailant
According to Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington, the deaths are the result of a likely murder suicide. In a tweet, her office revealed that “police were investigating the fatal fire incident in Sheffield as a murder-suicide. Five persons, including three young children, were killed in a residence on Home Road Wednesday morning.”
The children were named Alex, Zoe, and Marek, and the two family dogs also perished in the blaze, according to Crime Online.
The District Attorney’s office also wrote on Twitter, “Five people were killed Wednesday in an incident that involved a home fire in Sheffield, #Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington announced. #Massachusetts State Police and police agencies from Berkshire County and beyond were investigating the scene.”
The page added, “The District Attorney and State Police continue to investigate the fatal fire in Sheffield, and do not believe the public faces a threat. DA Harrington is working to provide an update on the case later today. Stay tuned.” News 10 reported that the DA identified Luke Karpinski as the likely murderer of the four family members.
Luke Karpinski and Justine Wilbur were both 41-years-old.
2. Justine Wilbur Was a Patent Attorney
In a statement, the law firm of Hoffman Warnick praised Wilbur as a “talented attorney” for the firm.
“It is with grief and immeasurable sorrow that we learned of the death of our friend and colleague Justine M. Wilbur, who died with her family yesterday in Sheffield, Massachusetts,” the statement read.
“Justine was a talented attorney who joined our team in 2017 after having built a reputation both domestically and internationally as a patent expert. Her work was both meaningful and challenging having encompassed topics ranging from cancer treatment and nanotechnology to advanced materials.”
The firm concluded, “Justine was smart, knowledgeable, dedicated and hardworking. She was a devoted mother to her wonderful children, and a true friend to everyone in our firm. We are each devastated by loss and extraordinary sadness, but are comforted and grateful for having shared Justine’s infectious spirit and energy.”
On its website, the law firm revealed: “Justine is a patent attorney who assists with patent prosecution for both domestic and international clients. For more than ten years, she has focused on drafting and prosecuting patent applications in the areas of organic compounds, resins, ceramics, polymers, thin films, alloys, light-emitting materials, nanomaterials, textiles, coatings, compositions, semiconductor devices, image forming devices, inks, toners, adhesives, metal working, catalysts, glass manufacturing, batteries, plastic/nonmetallic article shaping, solid surface cleaning compositions, bio-affecting compounds, pharmaceuticals, plant protection and regulation, food/edible materials. Justine has also written patentability, freedom to operate, invalidity, and non-infringement opinions, as well as pre-appeal requests and appeal briefs.”
3. Justine Wilbur Previously Worked as a Scientist
According to her law firm biography, “Prior to practicing law, Justine was a scientist, managing a drug discovery resynthesis team and collaborating with well-known pharmaceutical companies. Her team’s focus was on cancer therapeutic drugs. Justine’s experience also includes both combinatorial and non-combinatorial chemical assays, as well as Mapping Array and Directed Array programs, including the AMAP Chemistry Operating System.”
The bio continues: “While in law school, Justine spent a summer in the Sweden Program at Lund University studying international law before obtaining her J.D. in the Intellectual Property Law concentration from Suffolk University Law School.”
Her education was listed as follows:
Suffolk University Law School, J.D.
University of Massachusetts Lowell, M.S., Chemistry
Boston College, B.S., Chemistry
Justine Wilbur was only 41-years-old. Her LinkedIn page lists a series of other law firms in her past employment.
4. Luke Karpinski Worked as a Federal Chemical Patent Examiner
Karpinski worked in the area of patents like his wife. The couple grew up together, according to a story in the Berkshire Eagle, which reported that they were natives of Dalton, Massachusetts.
The site reported that Karpinski “worked from home as a federal chemical patent examiner.”
The details of the quadruple murder suicide are horrific. According to Crime Online, it’s believed that Luke Karpinski stabbed his wife to death before torching the family home with gasoline. The motive is not yet clear.
5. Karpinski & Justine Wilbur Were High School Sweethearts
The couple’s ties went back to high school. The Berkshire Eagle reported that Karpinski and Wilbur were seniors when they started dating at Wahconah Regional High School.
They had purchased the plot of land in Sheffield after living in Virginia for several years, and were building a new house, the Berkshire Eagle reported.
Justine’s sister Kristen Wilbur told the newspaper: “They were smart, intelligent, good people — and good parents. And the kids were so cute. It’s very sad. My father passed away five years ago, so that just leaves me and my mother.”