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Berkshire DA: Propane Tanks Used to Set Fire in Sheffield Murder-Suicide

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
SHEFFIELD, Mass. — The district attorney's office says there is "overwhelming evidence" suggesting that Luke Karpinski killed his wife and children before setting their Home Road residence on fire.
 
District Attorney Andrea Harrington said on Monday that Justine Wilbur, 41, was found dead on the first floor with signs of "a traumatic injury" that appears to have occurred prior to the start of the fire. Authorities also say they found an accelerant throughout the home, including two 20-pound propane tanks on the upper floors, used to start the blaze.
 
"This investigation is complex and ongoing, but we have uncovered overwhelming evidence suggesting that Luke Karpinski killed his wife and children prior to committing suicide," Harrington said.
 
The family of five were all found dead Wednesday morning after first-responders extinguished a fire at the home. Authorities found Wilbur on the first floor of the home and the other four upstairs. 
 
Investigators say they did not find any firearms in the home but the autopsy results with the cause of deaths were not available Monday from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
 
The fire was reported at about 7:50 Wednesday morning.
 

Original Post: Berkshire DA: Sheffield Fire Being Investigated as Murder-Suicide

March 14, 2019, at 6:46 p.m


Numerous volunteer fire departments responded to the scene Wednesday morning.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The District Attorney's office is investigating the fire that left a family of five dead as a murder-suicide.

 

First responders were called to 1343 Home Road shortly before 8 a.m. Wednesday morning to a structure fire.
 
After it was extinguished, investigators found Justine Wilbur dead and later found the bodies of her husband, Luke Karpinski, and the family's three children, 7-year-old twins Alex and Zoe and Marek, age 3. 
 
On Thursday, District Attorney Andrea Harrington said it appears as though Karpinski had killed his family.
 
"Five individuals including three young children died Wednesday morning that burned at 1343 Home Road in Sheffield. Among the deceased were Luke Karpinski, his wife Justine Wilbur, both 41, who lived in the home with their 3-year-old and 7-year-old twins," Harrington said.
 
"We are investigating this matter as a murder-suicide. At this time, the evidence indicates that Luke Karpinski was the assailant."
 
Harrington said little more but assured the public that "there is no reason to believe the public is in danger at this time." She would not reveal the cause of the deaths but said the bodies have been transferred to the chief medical examiner's office in Boston.
 
Harrington also would not reveal anything regarding weapons or whether the individuals had died before or during the fire.
 
The investigation into the circumstances around the incident are being investigated by the Massachusetts State Police and the Office of the State Fire Marshal. Volunteer fire companies from around the region responded to aid the Sheffield Fire Department: Great Barrington, New Marlborough, Richmond, Egremont and Monterey, and Connecticut companies of North Fork and Canaan. 
 
The family had purchased the property in 2016 and had recently built the house on the thinly settled country road. Karpinski was a patent examiner for the federal government for more than a decade and Wilbur an attorney in patent law at Hoffman Warnick in Albany, N.Y., and held degrees in chemistry before earning her law degree. 
 
Hoffman Warnick described Wilbur in a statement as "a talented attorney" who "was smart, knowledgeable, dedicated and hardworking."
 
"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 firm stated. 
 
Beth Regulbuto, superintendent of schools for the Southern Berkshire Regional School District, apprised the school community by email on Wednesday night that the crisis team would be meeting on Thursday morning "to discuss the best ways possible to provide support during school tomorrow." She said the district would have more counselors on hand and that faculty and staff would be providing "developmentally appropriate messages."


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Pittsfield Police Arrest Two For Violent Crimes

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police arrested two city residents this weekend for separate violent crimes.
 
On Saturday Anthony Miller, 50, was arrested for allegedly severely beating and sexually assaulting a woman. Tina Marie Provost, 53, was also arrested that evening for allegedly stabbing her boyfriend.
 
Police say Miller is being charged with rape, kidnapping, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery on a household member, and witness intimidation. Miller was held on $100,000 bail. He was arrested at the home in which the alleged victim lives.
 
Provost was arrested when officers were called to a residence for a reported domestic disturbance. On arrival, officers say they found a 30-year-old city resident, identified as Provost's boyfriend, stabbed in the abdomen. The victim was transported to Berkshire Medical Center and received emergency surgery.
 
Provost was arrested and charged with a single count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. She was held on $2,500. 
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Six-year-old Twins Among Those Who Died In Pittsfield Fire

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Six-year-old twins were among the three killed in a fire early Saturday morning.
 
The District Attorney's Office says Austin Grezlak, 25, a graduate of Taconic High School, and twins Kasper and Sylas Stone died when their home in Lake Onota Village burned.
 
Two others escaped the blaze that was started from either a candle or smoking materials in the master bedroom. One individual is at Massachusetts General Hospital being treated for non-life threatening injuries. 
 
"The Berkshire District Attorney's Office sends sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who died in this tragic incident," District Attorney Andrea Harrington said. 
 
Authorities say at about 3:40 a.m. the home at 11 Lakewood Circle caught fire. Harrington said while the investigation of the fire remains open, it does not appear to be suspicious. The blaze destroyed the home and damaged a neighboring house.
 
Conducting the investigation into the incident are the Pittsfield Fire Department, the Pittsfield Police Department, members of the State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal, and detectives from the State Police Detective Unit assigned to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office.
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Authorities Investigating Lake Onota Village Fire That Killed Three

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Authorities are investigating a fire Saturday morning that left three people dead. 
 
Two people were found outside the structure in Lake Onota Village and taken to Berkshire Medical Center with nonlife-threatening injuries. Three others were inside the structure when firefighters arrived at the scene at about 3:40 a.m. on Saturday. 
 
In a brief press conference at about 10 a.m., Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington said, "there is no indication the fire is suspicious at this time."
 
The identities of the victims are being withheld until next of kin can be notified. 
 
Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said firefighters arrived at the scene within 5 minutes of the call. 
 
The home was heavily damaged and a nearby residence had some radiant heat damage to its siding. 
 
"There is one hydrant here, this is a private development off of the city's main water system," he said. "We did develop some water problems in our initial attack so we did ask for assistance from Lanesborough and Richmond fire departments to send a couple of tankers for supplemental water." 
 
Lake Onota Village is a 131-lot mobile home community off Valentine Road that is owned by M.H.Communities.
 
Harrington and Czerwinski were joined by Police Chief Michael Wynn, First Assistant District Attorney Karen Bell, Mayor Linda Tyer and State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey. None of these individuals spoke. 
 
The investigation is being conducted by the Pittsfield Fire and Police departments, members of the State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal, and detectives from the State Police Detective Unit assigned to the Berkshire district attorney's office.

 

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Southfield Fire Destroys One Building, Damages Second

Staff Reports
NEW MARLBOROUGH, Mass. — An early morning fire Friday in Southfield damaged one building and destroyed another on Norfolk Road. 
 
The 1800s-era single-family home at 155 Norfolk Road was destroyed and the neighboring former Baptist Church damaged. It took several hours for firefighters to contain the blaze. The fires occurred not far from the New Marlborough Fire Station. 
 
"The house was fully involved and beyond saving," Fire Chief Charles Loring III told ABC's News10. "So we concentrated on the church, the church turned into a home. We concentrated on that and were able to save it."
 
The call came in around 3 a.m. and at least eight area fire companies arrived at the scene. No one was reported injured. 
 
Video courtesy of David Edelman. 
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