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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