A 44-year-old Connecticut woman may spend the rest of her life behind bars for killing her 8-year-old son inside of the home, which she then set on fire. A New Haven jury on Wednesday found Karin Ziolkowski guilty on one count each of murder and second-degree arson in the 2016 death of young Elijah Ziolkowski, prosecutors announced.
According to a press release from the New Haven State’s Attorney’s Office, prosecutors at her trial showed evidence that Ziolkowski on the evening of Nov. 14, 2016 suffocated her son in their residence located in the 100 block of Davis Street. She then intentionally set two fires — one in her bedroom and another in the basement — using the fluid from a tiki torch to start the blaze, according to a report from the Hartford Courant.
Upon arriving at the scene of the fire, first responders got Elijah out of the burning home but were unable to resuscitate him, prosecutors said. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner performed an autopsy and determined that the boy’s manner of death was a homicide and the cause of death was asphyxiation as well as acute intoxication from a deadly amount of antihistamine diphenhydramine, which is found in common over-the-counter medications such as Benadryl.
The medical examiner also concluded that Elijah had died prior to the house fire, according to a report from the Record-Journal. Ziolowski reportedly was reportedly hospitalized with severe smoke inhalation from the fire she set and was treated at Hartford Hospital.
Investigators also discovered a series of disturbing social media posts they said Ziolkowski posted prior to killing Elijah. For example, she tweeted on Nov. 10, 2016 the terms “fire extinguisher” and “devil’s playground,” as well as “#takethatasyouwill,” a warrant obtained by the Record-Journal reportedly states.
One day later, Ziolkowski on Nov. 11 reportedly tweeted the phrase “empty promises,” followed again by “#takethatasyouwill.” Most damning of all, on Nov. 12 she tweeted, “why did I have a child,” the Record-Journal noted.
Authorities did not arrest Ziolkowski until October 2017. She was taken into custody in North Carolina, where she moved following Elijah’s death.
According to the Hartford Courant, the warrant said she was in the throes of depression and was struggling with marital issues prior to her son’s death. Ziolkowski and her stepmother reportedly both told investigators that Ziolkowski’s husband was verbally abusive towards her. She reportedly filed for divorce from her husband but the case was dismissed by a state judge for “lack of diligence” just a few weeks before she killed Elijah, the Hartford Courant reported.
“Our thoughts are with Elijah’s family at this time and we hope this verdict eases some of the suffering they’ve endured after the unimaginable loss of a child,” New Haven State’s Attorney John P. Doyle, Jr. said in a statement following the verdict. “We also would like to extend our appreciation to the Meriden police, firefighters and EMTs as well as those in the Division of Scientific Services and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner who worked on this case. Though they are trained to handle investigations involving the deaths of children, we know this work can take a toll both physically and emotionally.”
Ziolkowski is currently scheduled to appear before a judge in New Haven Superior Court on Jan. 10, 2023 for her sentencing hearing. Because she was convicted of a class A felony, the defendant faces a sentence of 25 years to life.