Accelerant likely used in Sheffield fire where five found dead

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SHEFFIELD — Accelerant likely was used to set a fire during the apparent murder-suicide that took the lives of three young children and their parents this week, according to a source familiar with the circumstances of the fire.

Investigators also are looking into whether Luke Karpinski stabbed his wife, Justine Wilbur, before setting their Home Road house on fire Wednesday, the source said.

Also, an unnamed official told The Boston Globe that detectives are trying to determine whether Wilbur, 41, had been stabbed first.

The first 911 calls came early Wednesday to report a structure fire with heavy smoke. In an initial search, firefighters found Wilbur's body downstairs. Karpinski's body was found in a second search upstairs along with those of 7-year-old twins Alex and Zoe, as well as Marek, 3.

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Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington has said the deaths are being investigated as a murder-suicide, with Karpinski, 41, the likely assailant. She would not say whether weapons were involved, how and when Karpinski might have started the fire, or answer questions pertaining to whether Wilbur and the children were dead before the fire was set.

The office declined to comment Saturday on what weapons were used in the killings or whether an accelerant was used.

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Sorrow over the deaths is still rippling through South County, as is swirling speculation about what could have prompted the incident.

In response to requests for comment, Luke Karpinski's cousin gave the following statement:

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"Our family continues to give no comment because we have no official answers," Tess Karpinski told The Eagle in a phone call. "Both families are in shock and disbelief. We ask for respect from the public, and time for the family, friends and acquaintances to grieve the sudden loss of a great loving family."

The investigation into the deaths and fire remain ongoing.

Heather Bellow can be reached at or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.


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