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Hero Down: Boston PD Officer John O’Keefe Dies After Being Hit By Girlfriend’s Car, Found Unresponsive Outside During Blizzard

Canton, MA – Boston Police Department (BPD) Officer John O’Keefe died on Jan. 29 after his girlfriend allegedly hit him with a car and left him lying outside a friend’s home in a bitter winter storm.

Karen Read, 41, was arrested Feb. 1 on an outstanding warrant in the death of the 46-year-old officer, WBTS reported.

She has been charged with motor vehicle homicide, manslaughter, and leaving the scene of a motor vehicle collision causing death, according to WCBV.

During a court hearing Wednesday, prosecutors said Read and Officer O’Keefe had gone out drinking with friends at C.F. McCarthy’s bar in Canton on Jan. 28, WBTS reported.

They later went to a second nearby bar and left around midnight after they were invited to another BPD officer’s home on Fairview Road for a party.

Read allegedly told police she wasn’t feeling well, so she dropped Officer O’Keefe off at the house party and went home, WBTS reported.

One of Read’s friends told investigators she received a call from Read at 5 a.m. saying, “John’s dead, I wonder if he’s dead. It’s snowing, he got hit by a plow,” according to prosecutors.

Read said she had been trying to reach Officer O’Keefe for hours but that he wasn’t responding to her texts or calls, WTBS reported.

Two friends took Read to the home on Fairview Road at approximately 6 a.m. and found Officer O’Keefe lying outside.

His eyes were black and blue and swollen shut, his clothing was saturated with vomit and blood, and he had six lacerations on his right arm, according to prosecutors.

“The victim was cold to touch, with no signs of breath,” Assistant Norfolk District Attorney Adam Lally said, according to WTBS.

Investigators said Officer O’Keefe appeared to have been out in the blizzard for some time prior to his body being discovered.

Read allegedly told a paramedic at the scene, “I hit him, I hit him, I hit him, I hit him,” Lally told the court.

Officer O’Keefe was transported to Good Samaritan Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, WTBS reported.

Investigators located Read’s 2021 black Lexus SUV at her parents’ home and discovered it had a shattered right taillight and multiple scratches on the back bumper, according to prosecutors.

“She stated that she dropped the victim off, she made a three-point turn in the street and left — did not see the victim in the house,” Lally said, according to WCVB. “She indicated that she first observed the broken taillight in the morning and did not know how she broke it the previous evening.”

Read’s bail was set at $50,000 during her arraignment Wednesday morning, WTBS reported.

She promptly bonded out of jail and is due back in court on March 1.

An autopsy conducted Monday revealed Officer O’Keefe also had a two-inch laceration to the back of his head and multiple skull fractures, WTBS reported.

The medical examiner said hypothermia likely contributed to his death.

Sources said investigators have located Ring camera footage of the incident, according to WBZ.

The couple had been together for two years.

Read works as an adjunct lecturer at Bentley University, WBZ reported.

Her attorney, David Yannetti, said he is “disappointed in the rush to judgement” against Read.

“I think there was a lot of political pressure on this district attorney’s office to bring charges in light of the fact a police officer was the victim here, but I will tell you this is a defensible case,” Yannetti told WBZ. “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.”

BPD Superintendent-in-Chief Gregory Long announced Officer O’Keefe’s death on Jan. 30.

“It is with deep regret that Superintendent-in-Chief Gregory Long announces the passing of active-duty Boston Police Officer John O’Keefe,” the department said in a statement to WHDH.

The BPD said the 16-year department veteran “served admirably in several assignments” during his lengthy career.

“John will be greatly missed by his friends and colleagues here at the Boston Police Department as we send our heartfelt condolences to his family, and loved ones during this difficult time,” the department said.

The agency released another statement Tuesday night following Read’s arrest, WBTS reported.

“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,” the BPD said, adding that they are “stunned and saddened” by what occurred.

“We’ll summons John’s spirit, pick ourselves back up again and we’ll continue to do the job that John loved so much,” Chief Long told WBZ after Read’s arraignment. “John was a tremendous human being.”

Officer O’Keefe’s family released a statement saying he was a generous man who would do anything for those he loved, Boston.com reported.

“People talk about someone who would give you the shirt off their back but that was truly who John was, and it is heartbreaking for us to suddenly be talking about him in the past tense,” his family wrote.

When the veteran officer’s sister and husband passed away within a short time of one another, Officer O’Keefe took in his “beloved niece and nephew” and built “a home and a life around their needs,” they said.

“John was not only a dedicated police officer, he was an exemplary guardian, son, brother, uncle and friend and we were so fortunate to have him as a part of our lives,” the family’s statement read.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Boston Police Department Officer John O’Keefe, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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