Varick (WSYR-TV) -- Karl Karlsen is charged with murder after investigators linked his son’s death to insurance money, but the case could widen as authorities begin looking into the death of his first wife – Christina Karlsen – which may also be linked to insurance money.
Karlsen’s father-in-law, Art Alexander, says he always believed his son-in-law started the fire that killed his daughter.
“I knew he was guilty a long time ago, 20 years ago,” Alexander said.
From his California home, Alexander explained to an ABC reporter how he believed Karlsen set his wife up with a substantial insurance policy just before Christmas. She died in a fire just one week later – on New Years Day in 1991.
“As soon as the funeral was over, he was gone,” Alexander continued.
Alexander says Karlsen moved to Seneca County, where he says he used the insurance money to buy his family farm. Alexander told NewsChannel 9 by phone that he kept quiet in order to keep relations with his grandchildren, even when he came to visit for birthdays and graduations.
“I had to ride to town with him and, needless to say, I couldn't say what I wanted to say because I would have alienated my grandkids,” Alexander said.
Alexander has three grandchildren: two granddaughters and his granson -- 23-year-old Levi Karlsen, who died in what was thought to be another accident in 2008.
“I'm sure it was for the money,” Alexander said.
The Seneca County Sheriffs Department confirms Levi's life insurance policy was also raised just a few days before he was crushed by a car he was working on. A tip Alexander is thankful police investigated further, leading to Karlsen's arrest.
“I thought I would see him skate for the rest of his life. I'm sorry it took this long, but I'm glad to see it happening,” Alexander said.
New York investigators are passing information on to Califonia investigators, pointing out the similarities between Levi and Christina Karlsen's deaths.
Karl Karlsen is due in court this Thursday.