Police have gotten to the bottom of the mysterious deaths of a Wisconsin couple whose bodies were found in their burned home earlier this month.
The Marathon County Sheriff's Office said the deaths of James Carolfi, 52, and Tanya Rodriguez, 44, were initially "unexplained" after the fire April 6 at their home in the Town of Day.
But in an update last week, the sheriff's office says that the couple were dead before the fire started, and their deaths were caused by electrocution as they attempted the art of fractal wood burning, an artform that has become popular on social media sites such as TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube.
Fractal wood burning sees high-voltage electricity applied to wood, creating lightning-effect burns or tree-like patterns in wood that has been soaked in a chemical solution.
"Through the investigation it was determined that the fire started in the garage before spreading to the home," the sheriff's office said. "We believe that fractal wood burning equipment that caused the electrocutions likely caused the structure fire."
"The fractal wood burning process typically uses a high-voltage transformer, often repurposed from a microwave oven, to flow current across wood items that have been soaked with a chemical solution. This process is highly dangerous and should only be done by trained professionals," it adds.
A Farmington, Minnesota man died in similar circumstances while attempting wood crafting at his girlfriend's home in Chaska in 2020.