Lead investigator in Karen Read murder case suspended without pay

Lead investigator in Karen Read murder case suspended without pay

The lead investigator in a highly publicized Boston-area murder case will be suspended without pay following an internal Massachusetts State Police hearing, officials announced Monday.

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Trooper Michael Proctor had come under criticism when the trial revealed he had used degrading language about Karen Read, who was accused of killing her boyfriend, Boston police officer John O’Keefe.

Read, 44, of Mansfield, Mass., was tried for second-degree murder, manslaughter and other charges related to O’Keefe’s death on Jan. 29, 2022. A mistrial was declared on July 1.

Proctor’s two-day testimony led lawyers to reveal personal texts in which the trooper used degrading and explicit language regarding Read. The state police launched an internal review, and Proctor was placed on leave the day the mistrial was declared.

During a status hearing Monday, a board recommended Proctor be suspended without pay, and Interim State Police Colonel John Mawn accepted the recommendation effective immediately, the department said.

The state is currently in the process of seeking a new colonel to take over the State Police. Following questions about the misconduct displayed in the Read trial and other scandals within the agency — including overtime abuse, drunken driving, bribery allegations — Gov. Maura Healey said the state is considering hiring an outside candidate for the position for “the first time ever.”

The State Police internal affairs investigation into Proctor remains ongoing, which may result in charges that would be adjudicated by a State Police Trial Board. It has not yet been made clear what Proctor may be charged with if allegations are determined to be sustained in the investigation.

State Comptroller records show Proctor earned $184,397 in the last year.

During his testimony at the trial during June 10 and June 12, personal texts from Proctor revealed during the investigation he called Read a “whack job (expletive) and a “babe,” wrote “No nudes so far” to colleagues while searching her phone, and made explicit fun of her gastrointestinal issues, among other derogatory comments.

In one text to his sister he wrote, “Hopefully she kills herself,” according to evidence presented by the defense.

“These regrettable and unprofessional comments are not something I’m proud of and are not something I should have written in private or any other setting,” Proctor said during the trial on June 10, adding later that the comments “absolutely do not detract from the integrity of the investigations or the facts derived from it.”

Read was accused of killing O’Keefe by backing her Lexus SUV into him and leaving him to die in the cold during a major snowstorm.

The defense alleged a massive frame-up job, arguing that O’Keefe was beaten to death inside a friend’s house before his body was dragged to the front yard.

After a dramatic nine-week trial and more than 20 hours of deliberation, the jury said it was deadlocked beyond resolution, prompting  Judge Beverly Cannone to declare a mistrial. The district attorney’s office has said it intends to re-try Read.

On Monday, Cannone ruled that the names of the jurors will remain secret.

“This case has garnered significant and divisive attention in Massachusetts and across the nation,” Cannone wrote in the order, adding: “The proceedings continue to be the daily subject of commentary on various social media platforms. People associated with the case have been charged with intimidation.”

She concluded that “there is a risk of immediate and irreparable injury should the list be made available to the public at this time.”