Levi Karlsen’s Cause of Death: How Karl Karlsen Murdered His Son

Levi Karlsen family photo

ABC News Levi Karlsen family photo

Levi Karlsen’s death stumped investigators. It would be years between the time he was buried in his grave in 2008 and the day his murder was solved. Karlsen was only 23 and left behind two daughters.

Karlsen survived a fire as a child that killed his mother, Christina Karlsen, which was set by his dad, Karl Karlsen, as a way to collect insurance money, police said on ABC 20/20. Seventeen years later, Karl Karlsen needed another payout and decided to kill his son in a murder that he staged to look like an accident, police said.

It was, in part, Karl Karlsen’s second wife, Cindy Best, who helped investigators close the case. She recorded her husband confess to killing their son, investigators said.

Here’s what you need to know:


Karl Karlsen Collected $700,000 in Insurance Money Intended for Levi’s Daughters After He Was Crushed to Death Under a Truck on the Family Farm in 2008

Investigators in Seneca County, New York reopened the death investigation for Levi Karlsen after one of hiss cousins contacted authorities, according to the Calavera Enterprise.

“You might want to look into it. Something’s not right with it,” Seneca County Sheriff’s Office investigator John Cleere recalled the cousin saying, according to the newspaper article.

Cleere questioned Karl Karlsen about a fire that killed his first wife, Christina Karlsen, 17 years before Levi Karlsen’s death, the article said. Karl Karlsen claimed he heard his wife screaming and saved his son, Levi, grabbed him by the hair and “chucked him out” of the house, the article said. The boy’s eyes were burned closed by a fireball, authorities testified, according to the article. Karl Karlsen also saved his two daughters, but he was unable to save his wife, Karlsen told law enforcement, the article said.

He admitted to Cleere he had life insurance policies taken out on his wife and young children just a few months before the fire, according to the article. He said he “went through the gauntlet” for taking out the insurance policies, according to the article.

“You know how some people go through life, and everything that can go wrong goes wrong?” Karlsen told police, according to the Enterprise.


Karl Karlsen Told Police He Knocked the Jacks Out From Under the Truck & Left His Son to Die, But Claimed it Was an Accident

Karl Karlsen gave investigators several versions of the story to explain how his son died, according to Syracuse.com. In a police interview, he actually admitted to police that he moved the pickup truck his son was working on off the jacks, which resulted in Levi Karlsen being crushed to death, the newspaper reported. He said he did not try to save him and left him to die, the article said. But, he claimed, his actions were the result of panic, and he claimed it was an accident, the article said.

“I got out of there like a kid who threw a rock through a window and didn’t want to get caught,” Karlsen said on a video shown during a court hearing, according to the newspaper article.

Investigators alleged Karl Karlsen encouraged his son to take out an insurance policy, and days later, coaxed him into working under a truck with a wobbly jack, the article said.

After Levi Karlsen’s death was ruled accidental, Karl Karlsen received a $700,000 insurance payout, which was intended for Levi Karlsen’s daughters, according to the Calavera Enterprise.

“It’s the girls’ money, but it was given to me to give to them if they need braces (or) if they need glasses,” Karl Karlsen told authorities during an interview, the Enterprise reported.

However, he told investigators he had already spent the majority of the money, the article said.

READ NEXT: Karl Karlsen on 20/20: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know


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