CANTON, Mass. — A Massachusetts professor has been charged after authorities allege she ran over her boyfriend, a Boston police officer, and killed him after a night of drinking over the weekend.
Karen Read, 41, of Mansfield, is charged with manslaughter in the death on Saturday of Officer John O’Keefe, who was off duty at the time of his death. Read is also charged with leaving the scene of a motor vehicle collision causing death, as well as motor vehicle homicide.
Read, an adjunct professor of finance at Bentley University, has been released on $50,000 cash bail.
Boston 25 News reported that O’Keefe, 46, was found unresponsive in a snowbank early Saturday outside the Canton home of a fellow officer. According to the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office, he was taken to the Good Samaritan Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead hours later.
O’Keefe died of skull fractures and hypothermia, prosecutors said in court. When he was found, his eyes were swollen shut and he had multiple abrasions and cuts on his arms.
Boston police officials said O’Keefe was a 16-year veteran of the force who had served in multiple capacities during his career.
“John was a kind person, dedicated to his family, and will be greatly missed by his coworkers and anyone who had the privilege of meeting him,” Boston police Superintendent-in-Chief Gregory Long said in a statement.
Long thanked everyone in the Canton police and fire departments, the Massachusetts State Police and the district attorney’s office for their efforts “from the initial response under difficult conditions” to Read’s arrest.
“At this time, we are stunned and saddened, and offer whatever support we can to John’s family,” Long said Tuesday. “Boston Police Peer Support will be available to assist department members in need of emotional support.”
O’Keefe was raising his sister’s children, who lost their mother to a brain tumor and their father to a heart attack within months of one another in 2013 and 2014.
Authorities said Read and O’Keefe arrived at the home where he died shortly after midnight on Saturday. According to Boston 25 News, witnesses said the couple had been to multiple bars, including the Waterfall Bar and Grille in Canton, prior to an after-party at his colleague’s Fairview Road home.
Court documents obtained by the news station indicate that Read, who was feeling ill, decided against going to the party and instead dropped O’Keefe off. One witness said she saw Read’s black Lexus SUV pull up outside the home, but neither she nor O’Keefe ever made it inside.
The documents allege that Read made a three-point turn in the road, striking O’Keefe. She then left the scene as he lay dying in the snow.
Around 4:45 a.m. Saturday, Read called a friend, who later told police that Read sounded distraught. Read told the friend she found her SUV had a cracked taillight.
“Could I have hit him? Did I hit him?” Read said, according to prosecutors.
Another friend told police Read questioned whether her boyfriend of two years was alive or dead, Boston 25 News reported.
“I wonder if he is dead,” she told the friend, according to documents. “It’s snowing. He got hit by a plow.”
Friends drove Read back to Fairview Road, where they found O’Keefe in the snowbank. It was around 6 a.m., and the off-duty officer had been lying in the blizzard conditions for hours.
Canton police officers responding to a 911 call found a friend performing CPR on O’Keefe, who was “cold to the touch,” the news station reported.
Investigators later found one of O’Keefe’s sneakers, bloodstains and pieces of a broken taillight in the snow where his body had been. There was also a broken cocktail glass similar to the one that her friends saw Read drinking out of the night before.
Court documents obtained by the news station indicated that Read’s friends told authorities Read admitted she “did not remember last night” and that she still appeared intoxicated Saturday morning.
State police accident investigation troopers impounded Read’s Lexus, which had a broken taillight. According to prosecutors, they found that the vehicle’s safety warning systems, including its obstruction alert, were in working order.
A legal analyst told Boston 25 News that many questions remain, including whether or not Read knew she had struck O’Keefe as she drove away. The court documents in the case describe her as becoming frantic as she repeatedly texted O’Keefe and got no response.
O’Keefe’s family issued a statement lauding him for his kindness and selflessness.
“People talk about someone who would give you the shirt off their back, but that’s truly who John was,” the statement read. “It is heartbreaking for us to suddenly be talking about him in the past tense.”
A GoFundMe page set up to help O’Keefe’s niece and nephew, Kayley and Patrick Furbush, described him as a “devoted son, brother, uncle, godfather, cousin (and) friend.”
As of noon on Friday, the page, which was set up to raise $10,000, had surpassed that goal and raised more than $135,000 for the children.
©2022 Cox Media Group