Death certificates confirm DA’s assertions on 2019 murder-suicide in Sheffield

The house on 1343 Home Road in Sheffield is still boarded up almost one year after Luke Karpinski killed his family and took his life last March. (Emily Thurlow)

SHEFFIELD — Newly released death certificates reasserted that the killer behind the deaths of a family of five in March 2019 in Sheffield was the father.
Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington had previously stated that the evidence is “unequivocally” consistent with the original evidence suggesting that 41-year-old Luke Karpinski murdered his wife, Justine Wilbur, 41, and their three children, 3-year-old son, Marek, and 7-year-old twins, Alex and Zoe, and deliberately set fire to his home before killing himself.
The death certificates that were released by the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner confirm that.
According to the death certificates, Karpinski died from “smoke inhalation and thermal injuries” and Wilbur died from “sharp force injury of the neck.”
Investigative documents from the case were unsealed at Southern Berkshire District Court last year that included an affidavit to support a search warrant application by Massachusetts State Police detectives.
After performing an initial search of the house on March 13, 2019, firefighters recovered the deceased body of Wilbur on the first floor of the home. According to court documents, investigators observed a laceration on Wilbur’s neck that was extremely brutal.
“The laceration was consistent with someone slicing Justine Wilbur’s throat in the most violent and aggressive manner possible,” in that affidavit filed by state police. “Note that the degree of violence associated with this laceration cannot be overstated. The laceration was such that it could not have realistically been caused by an accident of any imaginable kind.”
The children were later discovered on the upper floor of the home. The affidavit compiles a number of interviews collected in the investigation. In one account, a Monterey firefighter details finding the children, who were located in what he described as the master bedroom with furniture placed in front of the door.
The cause of death for all three children was listed as “violence of uncertain etiology (causes),” on their death certificates.
The firefighter also located a closet off the master bathroom where two dead dogs were discovered. The dogs had no way to escape as the door was closed.
Regarding the suspicious nature of the fire, investigators located signs of accelerant in the 1343 Home Road residence, including two 20-pound propane tanks on the top floors.
The affidavit states, that based on their combined interviews, “it is apparent to investigators on the scene, in the aggregate, that the propane was utilized to further accelerate the fire and the burning process, thus perpetuating the apparent homicide and destructing evidence related thereto.”
Karpinski was later located on a small third floor area in a bed, lying down, according to court documents.
Family members that were interviewed previously noted that neither Karpinski or Wilbur expressed being unhappy in their marriage. The impressions of some neighbors were that the family was “happy,” while others note that Karpinski and Wilbur could be heard yelling, “on a monthly basis.” According to interviewed neighbors in the affidavit, the night before the fire, both Karpinski’s and Wilbur’s vehicles were not parked where they normally were.
“The information provided by the Office of the Chief Medical examiner supports what we’ve said all along, so we don’t have any additional comments to make at this time,” said Andrew McKeever, spokesperson for the district attorney’s office in a statement.
At this point in the ongoing investigation, no motive has been publicly established. While Wilbur’s and Karpinski’s emails and text messages have also been collected as part of the investigation, those details have not been made public.
The district attorney’s office is currently in the process of collating and redacting all of the reports regarding the investigation and will be publicly available in the coming weeks, according to McKeever.

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