This episode/blog is about the death of Boston Police Officer, John O’Keefe.
The two main people involved in this case are John, and his girlfriend Karen Read.
John died on January 29, 2022 and he was 46 at the time of his death.
John was born and raised in Braintree, Mass. He attended Braintree High School and later Northeastern University. He then went on to earn his master’s degree in criminal justice from UMass. He had been a Boston Police Officer for the past 16 years.
John was the legal guardian to his niece Kayley and nephew Patrick. The children’s parents died months apart in 2013/2014. Kristen Furbush died from cancer in November 2013. Her husband Stephen was 39 when he died in January 2014 from a heart attack. I believe Kayley was 6 when her dad died, and Patrick was 3. So at the time John died, they would have been around 14 and 11.
Karen was 41 at the time of John’s death. She worked as a finance lecturer at Bentley University in Massachusetts and she was also an equity analyst at Fidelity. . According to her LinkedIn profile, she studied at Bentley University and graduated from Elkin B. McCallum Graduate School of Business.
We will now head to January 2022. Around mid January, John’s niece Kayley heard him talking to Karen about their relationship. He apparently told her that he thought their relationship had run its course and that it had become unhealthy. By that point, the couple had been seeing each other for around two years. I believe before that, the couple had been on-again, off-again. Friends and family have said that Karen and John argued frequently. I have read that the couple were living together at the time of John’s death.
The prosecution in this case have released a detailed timeline of what happened prior to John’s death, so we will begin with that.
On Friday January 28, 2022, John is seen at 7.37pm on CCTV arriving at C.F. McCarthy’s in Canton, Mass. According to the venue’s bio: We are a classic Irish pub focusing on fresh food and craft beer in Canton center.
Karen can be seen on CCTV arriving at the same venue at 8.51pm.
The prosecution then go into a timeline of Karen’s drinking – between 8.58pm and 10.22pm – so around 90 minutes, she consumed 6 drinks.
At 10.40 pm, John and Karen can be seen leaving the venue. Karen was holding her final drink from the venue as she left.
They then went to the Waterfall Bar and Grille and arrived there at 10.54pm. I believe they met up with some friends here, Jennifer and Matthew McCabe. The McCabe’s were more John’s friends and apparently did not know Karen that well.
At 12.10am on Saturday January 29, Karen can be seen leaving the Waterfall Bar. John follows behind her, carrying a drink.
They started walking together towards Washington Street.
At 12.14am, John texted Jennifer McCabe ‘Where to?’ She replied with a text to an address on Fairview Road. At 12.15, a vehicle that matches the one that Karen owned was seen on CCTV, driving past the Canton Town LIbrary. I believe the address of the house is 34 Fairview Road and that the couple were headed to an ‘afterparty’ type thing. I also believe the homeowner was a man named Brian Albert. I have read online that Brian is a Boston Police Sergeant, part of the Fugitive Apprehension Team. His wife is Nicole Albert, who is Jennifer McCabe’s sister.
At 12.18am, John called Jennifer to ask for more specific directions to the house.
Jennifer sent John a text at 12.31am saying ‘Hello.”
At 12.40am, Jennifer sent another text saying ‘Pull up behind me’. I believe her vehicle was in the driveway and she was indicating that John and Karen should park behind her car. She has said that she saw Karen’s black SUV move from where it had stopped near the driveway, to the far left side of the property near a flagpole and fire hydrant.
She sent another text at 12.45am saying ‘Hello.’ At this point, the black SUV drove away.
It seems like there was a fair bit of activity at the Fairview Road house early that morning. Between 1.30am and 2am, another person got a ride to the house and “indicated that she thought she saw something, she described as a dark object, in the snow by the flagpole, but could not determine what it was.”
At 4.53am, Karen called Jennifer. She said she was looking for John. During the call, the woman told Karen that she last saw John at the Waterfall Bar and that she saw the couple leave together.
At 5am, Karen called another friend. She said that John did not come home and she was worried. According to the prosecution, Karen told her “I wonder if he’s dead. It’s snowing, he got hit by a plow.”
It seems that after this, Karen left her house to retrace her steps. Her SUV can be seen on CCTV heading towards the Waterfall Bar at 5.11am. It can be seen at various spots around town between then and around 5.30am.
At 5.30am, Karen arrived at the home of the sister of the Fairview Road resident. They described her as ‘hysterical’ by that point. One of the women drove Karen back to John’s house, while the other followed in a separate vehicle. Karen asked one of the women ‘Could I have hit him?’ and then proceeded to mention that the taillight on her SUV had been cracked
When they got back to John’s house, Karen showed the women the damage to the car. They all then got into one car and went to look for John.
It was apparently snowing heavily and there was poor visibility. When they arrived back to the Fairview Road residence, Karen ‘immediately’ saw John laying in the snow. The other women said they could not see him due to the poor conditions.
At 6.04am, a 911 call was made reporting that John had been found in the snow. A police officer arrived and saw three women in the front yard. Two of the women were doing CPR on John. Just to note, the three women are identified in court documents as Karen Read, Jennifer McCabe and Kerry Roberts.
The officer said that John was cold to the touch and was not breathing. The conditions at the time have been described as ‘dark and blizzard like’.
A Canton firefighter who responded to the 911 call said she witnessed Karen telling her friend repeatedly, “I hit him, I hit him, I hit him.”
When he was found, John was bleeding from his nose and mouth. He had deep cuts on his arms, swollen eyes and a fractured skull.
John was pronounced dead at 7.50am.
At 9.08am, Karen had her blood tested at Good Samaritan Medical Center. A forensic toxicologist said it revealed her blood alcohol content was .07% – .08% and opined that around the time of 12:45 a.m., her BAC would have been between .13% and .29%.
Police arrived to the home of Karen’s parents at 4.30pm that day and they found her black Lexus SUV parked with the shattered tail light.
Her car was seized that day by Canton PD.
Two pieces of red plastic tail light and one piece of clear plastic tail light were found by Massachusetts State Police Special Emergency Response Team members who dug through the snow. Prosecutors said the plastic was consistent with broken pieces of Karen’s vehicle.
John’s cellphone was analyzed by Massachusetts State Police. “Their forensic extraction of the call logs, voicemails and text messages between the victim and the defendant, including the date of Jan. 28-29, detailed strains within their relationship, the victim’s desire to end their relationship and the defendant’s description of their relationship with them and the two children together as “toxic.”
An autopsy was conducted on January 31, 2022 by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
“The doctor opined that the extensive injuries to his head likely rendered Mr. O’Keefe incapacitated. The doctor further opined that upon viewing Mr. O’Keefe’s injuries and her examination of the body, she observed no signs of Mr. O’Keefe being involved in any type of physical altercation or fight.”
On February 1, 2022, crime scene technicians examined Karen’s car. They confirmed that her backup camera was working and it alerted the techs when it was approaching a dummy. A human hair was also found on the rear of the vehicle.
Police also reviewed CCTV footage on this day – from both bars that the couple visited.
Around this time, Karen was charged with manslaughter, leaving the scene of a motor vehicle collision causing death, and motor vehicle homicide in connection with John’s death.
Karen’s attorney David Yanetti said in February 2022, that “manslaughter is a tremendous reach” in this case. He argued that she did not have any “criminal intent” and was left “devastated” with the incident:
“I will tell you that my client has no criminal intent. She loved this man. She is devastated at what happened and she is innocent and that will come out at trial.”
David argued that her bail should be reduced to $5,000 and gave reasoning that she had many medical issues including a brain tumor, MS and colitis.
It was also said that Karen had dropped John off at the party and she did not go in due to her medical issues.
The judge said that Karen had plenty of reason to flee and he rejected the plea. She was released on $50,000 bail in February 2022.
She was indicted in June 2022 and the Superior Court then set bail at $100,000 which ended up being lowered to $75,000.
So that is basically the background to this story. Now it gets even messier.
We have since learned some more info about John’s cause of death. The ME listed his cause of death as blunt impact injuries of the head and hypothermia. However, as of April 2023, the manner of his death could not be determined. There are five possible manners of death – suicide, accident, homicide, natural and undetermined.
In April 2023, Karen’s defense team released information that they said ‘must reverse the trajectory of this case.’ You can read the documents here.
“An analysis of the complete forensic image of Jennifer McCabe’s cell phone by Computer Forensic Expert Richard Green establishes that Ms. McCabe, the government’s seminal witness, Googled, ‘hos (sic) long to die in cold’ at 2:27 a.m. on January 29, 2022, exactly two hours after O’Keefe was last seen walking towards the Albert Residence by Ms. Read,” Attorneys David Yannetti and Alan Jackson wrote in the 24-page motion.
The defense also allege that Jennifer deleted all communications that she had with Brian around the time of John’s death.
This info was apparently not covered in the forensic report submitted by police.
This discovery, they argued, “uncovered significant steps to delete and tamper with evidence.”
The attorneys said that the Google search “exculpates Ms. Read and decisively implicates Jennifer McCabe and Brian Albert in the murder of John O’Keefe.
“In spite of the fact that O’Keefe was found dead on the front lawn of Boston Police Officer Brian Albert, a highly trained boxer and fighter with deep familial and personal ties to the Canton Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police, law enforcement has utterly failed to treat Mr. Albert (and his family members who were present on the night in question) as suspects,” the motion continues.
Along with the details of the Google search, the motion asks the court to issue summons to Brian Albert as well as phone carriers Verizon and AT&T for details call logs, location records and data for phones used by Brian and Jennifer.
Specifically, the motion requests “all cell phone(s) in the possession of and/or used by Brian Albert between January 28, 2022, and present” so that a defense expert can perform a forensic examination of communications on those phones from between Jan. 28, 2022, and Feb. 5, 2022.”
It further seeks “all information contained on any cloud-based accounts” used by those phones for the same date range as well as any access codes or passwords.
The targeted phones are a more limited request from another major defense filing on Aug. 12 that targeted phone data from every person who was at the gathering at 34 Fairview Rd., which was denied.
Karen’s attorneys made a statement at this time:
“Today is a turning point for Karen. Finally, the truth has come out. As we stress in the Motion, there is simply no innocent explanation for McCabe’s search at that time.”
“We’ve spent 15 months trying to uncover the truth,” defense attorney David Yannetti said. “We are not afraid of whatever evidence is unearthed from whatever source because, for 15 months, every stitch of evidence has been consistent with my client’s innocence.”
In early May 2023, some info about the prosecution’s rebuttal of the search was reported by wcvb.com:
Where the defense said its expert found a search for “Ho[w] long to die in the cold” was conducted by a sister-in-law of the homeowner at 2:27 a.m., the prosecution said evidence proves the iPhone was being used to browse a youth basketball website at the time.
Prosecutors did say that Read twice told the sister-in-law of the homeowner to search something like, “How long do you have to be left outside to die from hypothermia?” after they returned to Fairview Road.
Karen’s attorneys used health and location data from John’s phone to try to prove that he did enter the Albert house on the night he died.
They said the health data shows he was climbing stairs in the house between 12.21am and 12.24am.
The prosecution say this info is not accurate as John was using the phone to navigate to the house and that data shows he did not arrive until 12.24am.
The defense has also contested the findings of John’s autopsy. They have said he suffered ‘numerous defensive wounds on his hands consistent with a brutal fight.’ They claim that John was likely beaten to death inside the house and his body was dumped outside. They also claim that Brian Albert’s dog Chloe may have attacked John at one point, and that could account for some of the injuries. The dog has been rehomed out of state since John’s death. This apparently happened after the dog bit someone else, four months after John’s death. The defense want to test the dog’s DNA against John’s autopsy samples.
The DA wrote in the autopsy report that there were ‘no signs of an altercation or a fight.’
Karen’s attorneys rebutted this.
“He looked like he had gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson, as my colleague has once analogized,” Alan Jackson said.
“Of course there’s evidence that he was in a fight,” he continued. “The back of his hands, deeply bruised. Those are called defensive wounds; I don’t care what their medical examiner called it. Anybody who’s seen any sort of a fight, a street fight, knows that the back of the hands, the back of the arms get the brunt of the punches as you cover your face. Of course there were signs of a fight — not just a fight, a brutal fight.”
We have also since learned some information about Karen’s behavior on the morning of John’s death. Kayley (the niece) said that she was woken up by Karen at 4.30am. Kayley said Karen was ‘screaming and acting frantic.’ Kayley told police that Karen changed her story several times. “The defendant stating that she and the victim got into an argument and she dropped him off.”
Karen’s attorney David Yanetti spoke about this slightly differently. “At 4:30 in the morning, my client is placing multiple calls to the victim — in this case her boyfriend — wondering where he is, why he hasn’t come home and getting annoyed with him because his niece of whom he was a guardian had to go to bed without saying good night to him.”
On Wednesday May 3, 2023, Karen’s attorneys accused the prosecution of withholding evidence from them. They said they have been requesting access to John’s clothes, forensic evidence from the car and samples from his autopsy and they have been denied.
They also said that Karen has ‘lost everything’. She is no longer employed and she and her family are spending all their money on legal fees. Her attorneys asked the judge to set a deadline to secure the evidence.
“She’s hired private counsel from two coasts. She’s hired multiple experts at considerable costs and when I say considerable, I mean tens and tens of thousands of dollars,” said defense attorney David Yannetti. “And the meter is running with each passing court date. She can’t afford to scrimp on her defense because her life is at stake.”
The prosecution say that lab analysis it not yet complete on certain items, but they expect that to be finalized soon.