Sheffield — Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington said a report from the state medical examiner should be available soon and has confirmed that investigators have “detected the presence of liquid accelerants” at the scene of a murder-suicide that killed a family of five in Sheffield one month ago today.
Harrington had previously disclosed the discovery of two 20-pound propane tanks on the upper floor of the Karpinski residence at 1343 Home Road, where responders found the family dead on the morning of March 13.
In a statement e-mailed to media outlets at 5 p.m. Friday, Harrington also said the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, which is performing autopsies on the bodies, “is expected to provide an investigative update to the Berkshire District Attorney in the near future.” The autopsy results have been the focus of news
media inquiries and intense speculation among the public.
When questioned, Harrington has thus far declined to say how Karpinski and his children died. At a news conference earlier this week to unveil a domestic violence initiative, Harrington said the timeframe was beyond her control and attributed the delay to a complex array of testing involving several state agencies and offices. She told reporters she expected to release more information at the end of this week.
Authorities believe Luke Karpinski, 41, murdered his wife, Justine Wilbur, also 41, and their three children before setting their house on fire and taking his own life. Responders found Wilbur’s body on the first floor “with a traumatic injury,” and discovered the bodies of Karpinski and the three children on the upper floor, Harrington has said.
After firefighters put out the blaze, an extensive investigation involving multiple local and state agencies began and is still ongoing. Investigating at the scene were State Police detectives assigned to the DA’s office and troopers assigned to Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit. They conducted a thorough search of the house and property, along with State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit canines, and detected the presence of the liquid accelerants, Harrington said.
The State Police and the Department of Fire Services Crime Laboratories have conducted forensic testing of all evidence collected at the scene and will be providing the results of the testing to the District Attorney’s Office upon completion. Harrington did not say when she expects that to happen.
A State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction team digitally documented the property via drone-mounted technology. State Police detectives assigned to the DA’s office are continuing to lead the investigation, collaborating extensively with all other investigative units and agencies.
Harrington added that, “All case-related evidence, preliminary laboratory results and investigative information collected to date is consistent with the District Attorney’s Office initial and ongoing assessments that this was a murder/suicide with Luke Karpinski as the assailant.”
The town of Sheffield was rocked by tragedy during the month of March. Only two days before the Karpinski tragedy, Samya Stumo, 24, and a 2010 graduate of Mount Everett Regional School, died as a result of the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 near the town of Bishoftu, Ethiopia.
In addition, on Feb. 28, 19-year-old Jesus A. Santos, a Mount Everett graduate living in Lakeville, Conn., died in a single-car crash on Berkshire School Road. Sheffield police were in pursuit of Santos for an observed motor vehicle violation.
“We send our deep and sincere condolences to the Wilbur and Karpinski families, their friends and the larger community that has been impacted by this devastating loss,” Harrington said.
“We in the District Attorney’s Office and the investigators working this case are deeply saddened by this tragedy. We are working together to provide an accurate and detailed account of this terrible event. The victims, their families, and our community deserve nothing less.”