A Massachusetts lawyer is thought to have killed his high school sweetheart wife and their three children then set their Berkshire home alight before taking his own life, authorities say.
High flying attorney Justine Wilber and her husband Luke Karpinski, both 41, died on Wednesday in the Sheffield, Massachusetts home along with their seven-year-old twins Alex and Zoe and a three-year-old Marek, officials said.
The case is being investigated as a murder-suicide by police. CBS Boston reports Karpinski stabbed his wife Justine, who was found on the first floor of the home.
Karpinski was found on the second floor along with their three young children after reportedly using gasoline to start the blaze. The two family dogs also died.
District Attorney Andrea Harrington said Thursday: ‘At this time, the evidence indicates that Luke Karpinski was the assailant.
‘The scene is secure and there is no reason to believe that the public is endangered at this time.’
Wilber was a patent attorney working for a law firm in Albany, New York, while her husband was believed to be a patent analyst for the federal government.
Justine Wilber (right) and her husband Luke Karpinski, (left) both 41, died on Wednesday in the Sheffield, Massachusetts home along with their seven-year-old twins and a three-year-old child,
Investigators works at the scene of a fatal fire in Sheffield, Massachusetts on Thursday. Police responded to the fire at 7.50am on Wednesday and found five bodies inside
Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington gave a brief press conference on Thursday to identify the deceased adults and confirm a suspected murder-suicide
The couple were high school sweethearts, attending Wahconah Regional High. Teachers there described them as ‘two outstanding student citizens’.
Retired Principal Tom Callahan told The Berkshire Eagle: ‘I remember them very well. My memory of them is just two outstanding student citizens. It was a heck of a group of kids in that graduating class.
‘That was a happy class. We had a good time with them. It’s just, obviously, a tragedy. I feel just awful for them, their whole family.’
They started dating as seniors in 1996 and were high achievers who went off to college after graduating. Wilbur’s sister, Kristen said they started their careers in Alexandria, Virginia before returning to Massachusetts around seven years later.
‘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,’ the law firm of Hoffman Warnick said in a statement to DailyMail.com.
‘Justine was a talented attorney who joined our team in 2017 after having built a reputation both domestically and internationally as a patent expert. Her work was both meaningful and challenging having encompassed topics ranging from cancer treatment and nanotechnology to advanced materials.
‘Justine was smart, knowledgeable, dedicated and hardworking. She was a devoted mother to her wonderful children, and a true friend to everyone in our firm.
‘We are each devastated by loss and extraordinary sadness, but are comforted and grateful for having shared Justine’s infectious spirit and energy.
‘We pray for her family and those who loved her.’
Before becoming an attorney, Justine was a scientist focusing on cancer research, reports say.
Fire crews arrived around 7.50am on Wednesday to find the home fully involved. After putting out the blaze they found one body initially and four others during a secondary search
Karpinski and Wilbur purchased the lot that the home was later built on in June 2016 for $105,000, records show.
Federal records show that a Luke E. Karpinski was employed as a Patent Examiner at the Patent and Trademark Office in Sheffield, with a salary of $109,116 in 2017.
Fire crews responded to reports of the house fire at around 7.50am on Wednesday, finding one body initially and then four others during a secondary search.
On Thursday, Harrington said that Wilbur’s body was the first to be found, on the ground floor, and that the other four bodies were found together on the upper floor.
The home was fully engulfed when fire crews arrived, taking nearly an hour to extinguish and allow for the searches.
Speaking Wednesday Wilbur’s sister Kristen said: ‘They were smart, intelligent, good people — and good parents. And the kids were so cute. ‘It’s very sad. My father passed away five years ago, so that just leaves me and my mother.’
Berkshire County Sheriff Department officers close off the road on Wednesday in Sheffield to a home where investigators work at the scene of a house fire that killed five people
DA Harrington would not specify the causes of death or answer reporters’ questions at an initial press conference, saying only that the investigation was ‘complicated.’
‘This is an ongoing, extensive investigation with multiple local and state agencies, including the State Police,’ Harrington said, according to the Berkshire Edge.
In addition to local fire crews, spotted at the scene were several specialized criminal forensic units with the Massachusetts State Police.
They included the Crime Scene Services Section, forensic scientists assigned to the Crime Laboratory, and the Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section.
The fire occurred on the 1300 block of Home Road, a thinly settled country route.