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Boston-Area Professor Charged With Running Over Cop Boyfriend In Snowstorm

"I hit him, I hit him, I hit him, I hit him," Karen Read allegedly told firefighters after running discovering her boyfriend, Boston police officer John O’Keefe, on the street where she'd dropped him off the night before.

By Dorian Geiger
Shocking College Professor Allegations

A Boston police officer's girlfriend pleaded not guilty to charges that she accidentally ran him over and left him to die during a snowstorm in the city’s suburbs last weekend. 

Karen Read, 41, is facing charges for negligent motor vehicle homicide, manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident in the death of boyfriend, John O’Keefe, 46, according to the Norfolk County District Attorney's Office. She pleaded not guilty during her arraignment on Wednesday. 

O’Keefe was found face-up but unconscious in a snowdrift outside a home in Cantor, Massachusetts on Saturday morning, just as a massive snowstorm was descending on the region. In total, the area received approximately 21 inches of snow, according to WBUR-FM, and National Weather Service reports that the temperature in the area fell to around 13 degrees Farenheit that night.

Prosecutors say Read had dropped O’Keefe off at a house party around midnight, after the pair had allegedly been bar-hopping together. 

Read, the police say, returned home after dropping off O'Keefe, but the next morning noticed that her vehicle had a broken taillight. She subsequently returned to the scene of the incident after she was unable to get in touch with O’Keefe. She and two friends found O’Keefe coated in snow, cut, bleeding and clinging to life in the street around 6:00 a.m.  

"I hit him, I hit him, I hit him, I hit him," Read allegedly told firefighters who responded to the scene, NBC Boston reported.

John Okeefe Boston Pd

Investigators suspect she backed into O’Keefe while conducting a three-point turn after dropping him off. His autopsy results are pending, but prosecutors told the court during Read's arraignment that he had multiple skull fractures, a 2-inch laceration to the back of his head, two black eyes, injuries to his forearm and his clothing was covered in blood and vomit, the station reported. They indicated that hypothermia was a contributing factor to his death.

Read's Lexus SUV was seized was she was taken into police custody and charged on Tuesday. She was released after posting a $50,000 bond imposed by a district court judge. She has been ordered not to drive.

Her arraignment was attended by a number of uniformed and off-duty Boston police officers, including the department’s police chief.

“The Boston Police Department continues to grieve over the tragic loss of our brother Police Officer John O’Keefe,” Superintendent-In-Chief Gregory Long wrote in a statement. “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.”

Officials said O’Keefe was a 16-year police veteran.

“At this time, we are stunned and saddened and offer whatever support we can to John’s family,” Long added. “Boston Police Peer Support will be available to assist department members in need of emotional support.”

The Boston Police Relief Association also confirmed O’Keefe’s death in a statement.

“The BPRA is saddened over the loss of Officer John O’Keefe,” the association’s statement read. “This is a tragic loss and we pray for John’s family to have the strength through this most difficult time.  He will be DEEPLY missed by his fellow Officers, Family and friends. God rest his soul.”

Read’s defense attorney, David Yannetti, denied the charges and insisted that his client's name would soon be cleared.

“The manslaughter charge is, I think, the weakest of the three [charges],” Yannetti told Oxygen.com on Thursday. “I think all three are very weak because my client didn’t do it. The manslaughter charge I think it’s questionable whether it even survives a grand jury. I’ll be awaiting information from the prosecution regarding whether they intend to actually indict this case. That’s where we stand right now.”

Yannetti added that Read is in deep shock following O’Keefe’s death. The pair had been dating for approximately two years, he said.

“This is a horrible tragedy but it’s also not a crime,” Yannetti added. “My client loved this man. She’s absolutely devastated and to be accused of doing this to him has just made it exponentially worse. She’s obviously going through a very tough time right now.”

Prior to the incident, Read had worked at Fidelity Investments, which told NBC Boston she was on leave, and as an adjunct finance professor at Bentley University. 

“Adjust Lecturer Karen Read will not teach at Bentley this semester, and her Financial Markets and Investment Course will be taught for the rest of the term by another professor,” Bentley University said in a statement sent to Oxygen.com

School officials declined to comment whether Read had been terminated.

“The university has made no comment about Karen Read's future with the university,” the statement added. “We cannot comment further on an active investigation. Our thoughts go out to Officer O’Keefe’s family and loved ones.” 

Read’s next court date is scheduled for March 1. 

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