Dateline   |  January 17, 2014

'Deadly Deceit' part 3

A young man’s sudden death triggers surprising reactions.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> canning: another catastrophe had struck the karlsens. levi was trapped under a truck in the barn. karl ´s brother mike rushed over.

>> mike: they were just bringing levi out on the stretcher and putting him in the ambulance when i got there.

>> canning: levi was taken to the hospital, but the family knew it was hopeless. 17 years after his mother´s terrible death, levi karlsen had died at the age of 23. cindy says karl came unhinged.

>> cindy: he was actually, like, throwing himself up against the wall, and he was on the ground.

>> canning: so many tears and so many questions. how could levi have been so careless?

>> mike: we went into the barn to see the truck was jacked in a very precarious, dangerous scenario -- no blocks under it... a flimsy little jack holding it up.

>> canning: were you thinking, "levi should´ve known better than this"? he knows his way around. >> mike: absolutely.

>> canning: now, once again, karl karlsen had to pull himself out of the depths of tragedy. it would take a while, but this time, he seemed to come out of it a changed man. karl got fired up by a new plan to start a gourmet duck farm and began raising thousands of ducks to sell to new york restaurants. he and cindy even found themselves starring in an episode of "pitchin´ in," a food network canada series.

>> cindy: i think he had these visions that he was gonna be this famous person -- rich and famous .

>> canning: cindy watched her husband´s ego swell with all the attention, and she worried. it had been less than three years since levi died, yet karl seemed to be having the time of his life. was that normal?

>> cindy: just like an intuition that something just was not right.

>> canning: she kept thinking about the day levi died. it turns out mike was uneasy about it, too. what did karl say to you after levi ´s death?

>> mike: not a lot. i went to the hospital, and i was in the room with levi , and karl came in the room. and i don´t know what i wanted him to say, but he says, "how do i explain this?"

>> canning: what did he mean by that?

>> mike: no idea.

>> canning: mike didn´t share his misgivings about karl with cindy , but she had plenty of her own. she fought them for a while, until one day, she had to admit to herself...

>> cindy: "oh, my god. i think he did it." you know, but then i would also talk myself out of it. i would tell myself, you know, "you´re crazy. we weren´t even home at the time."

>> canning: officials called it an accident, and yet...

>> cindy: again, these thoughts kept coming up. kept sinking more into a depression and eventually ended up using alcohol as a way to cope.

>> canning: cindy confided in a couple of friends. they dismissed her fear, but someone did suggest she call a private investigator. that´s how she met steve brown .

>> brown: she walked in the door, and she looked very frail physically, emotionally -- just sickly, weak.

>> canning: cindy told the private investigator about her crazy fear that her husband had killed his own son.

>> brown: cindy proceeded to tell me what happened that day in 2008 .

>> canning: and she remembered something. before she and karl left for the funeral, he went to the barn to see levi , and for a few minutes, he was alone there with his son.

>> brown: karl said he wanted to check on levi before they left, and karl had came back to the vehicle, and they drove off to the funeral, and, you know, karl seemed fine the entire time -- normal behavior.

>> canning: but when they came home from the funeral, cindy noticed something else.

>> cindy: we got out of the car, and the first thing that i heard was the radio in the barn, and it was very loud, and it was set on country music . and anybody that knew levi -- he would not be caught dead listening to country music .

>> canning: whoever turned the radio on, it probably wasn´t levi . could it have been karl ? the private investigator found the story troubling, and it set his mind racing about karl .

>> brown: i was pretty quiet the rest of the night, just dissecting, how could that be? how could somebody do something like that?

>> canning: cindy had thought no one would believe her. but now private investigator steve brown did. he set out to examine phone records and insurance policies . but he also wanted to meet karl karlsen , so he and cindy came up with a plan. but it would require her to take a big risk.