Boston Police officer laid to rest as girlfriend faces criminal charges

By Sukanya Mitra
Boston University News Service

Karen Read and John O’Keefe (Photos from Karen Read’s LinkedIn and the Boston Police Department).

BOSTON — John O’Keefe, a 16-year Boston Police Department veteran, was remembered on Feb. 6 at his family parish in Braintree, as his girlfriend, Karen Read faces charges of manslaughter and vehicular homicide related to his death. 

The incident unfolded after a night of bar-hopping on Jan. 28 –– the night before the nor’easter –– when Read, 41, drove O’Keefe, 46, to a house party in Canton while reportedly intoxicated, according to a police affidavit. In the early hours of the next morning, the officer was found lying in the snow with bloodstains, severe cuts, eyes swollen shut and a broken cocktail glass nearby –– a reminder of the adversity from the previous night.

“I hit him, I hit him, I hit him,” Read allegedly told first responders when they arrived at the scene.

Read was arraigned in Stoughton District Court on the felony charges of manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident after causing injury or death, and a misdemeanor charge of vehicular homicide. 

“Manslaughter is a tremendous reach in this case,” David Yannetti, Read’s defense attorney, said in court. “I don’t see any criminal intent … this was my client’s boyfriend, somebody with whom she was in love.”  

Read pleaded not guilty and was released on a $50,000 cash bail.

“John was a kind person, dedicated to his family, and he will be greatly missed by his coworkers and anyone who had the privilege of meeting him,” the BPD said in a statement to NBC Boston.

The streets of Braintree were filled with hundreds of people who came to pay their respects to the fallen officer. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu was among those in attendance of the funeral procession. 

“My thoughts are with Officer O’Keefe’s family, friends, and colleagues at Boston Police,” said Wu in a statement to NewsCenter5. “He will be missed.”

Among the family he left behind are his niece and nephew, which O’Keefe took in after the tragic death of their parents, his sister and brother-in-law.

“He was a very kind soul, and he cared about his family more than anything,” said Ryan Rizzitano, O’Keefe’s cousin, at the wake. 

A GoFundMe was created to help raise funds aimed to provide monetary support for his two adoptive children, Kayley and Patrick Furbush. The fundraiser has far surpassed its initial goal of $10,000 and the raised funds currently sit at a total of more than $300,000. 

“We desperately need answers,” said Vanessa Rizzitano, O’Keefe’s cousin, in an interview with Boston25 News. “We know bits and pieces [of what happened], but I really hope at the end of the day, especially for his parents and those children, we deserve to know the answers and what happened.”

Read is due back in court on March 1.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.