Calaveras County man accused of murdering wife 23 years ago

MURPHYS - A man has been charged with murder 23 years after a house fire killed his wife in Calaveras County.

Christina Karlsen died in a fire in Murphys in 1991. On Friday afternoon, the Calaveras County District Attorney filed a criminal complaint charging Karl Karlsen with murdering his wife by setting the fire.

"It's a long time coming," said Christina Karlsen's father, Art Alexander. "I wish it happened earlier."

Karl Karlsen claims the fatal fire was an accident and that he rescued their three young children from the burning home. After the fire he collected $200,000 from his wife's life insurance policy.

In November, Karlsen reportedly pleaded guilty to the 2008 murder of his 23-year-old son Levi in upstate New York and to insurance fraud charges. Investigators claim Karlsen collected $700,000 in insurance money from his son's death. He was reportedly sentenced to 15 years to life in New York state prison.

As investigators in New York looked into that incident a tip led police to the fatal fire in Calaveras County.

Alexander said he has always had a strong suspicion that his son-in-law was to blame for his daughter's death.

"I just don't want to see him walking the streets again," he said. "I'd like to see him in jail for the rest of his life."

Alexander knows the case may take awhile.

"I'm ready. I don't care. As long as we get some kind of justice," he said.

Karlsen will have to be extradited to California for the newest murder charge.

Because this case is pending, the district attorney is not commenting on it.

The court papers filed against Karlsen are below.


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