25 Investigates: Manner of Boston Police Officer John O’Keefe’s death never determined

CANTON, Mass. — The medical examiner who performed an autopsy on Boston Police Officer John O’Keefe ruled the manner of his death “could not be determined,” according to O’Keefe’s death certificate obtained by 25 Investigates.

Manner of death can be classified five different ways on a death certificate, including accident and homicide.

O’Keefe’s body was discovered during a snowstorm outside the Canton home of another Boston police officer named Brian Albert on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022. An autopsy lists the cause of death as “blunt impact injuries of the head and hypothermia.” The death certificate was last updated in April 2022.

Medical examiners work independently of law enforcement but have access to police reports and other evidence when determining the cause and manner of death. They can also consult with investigators before issuing a ruling.

Prosecutors have charged O’Keefe’s girlfriend, Karen Read, with second-degree murder. They say she hit him with her Lexus SUV and left him to die outside in the snow after a night of drinking.

Read’s attorneys have pushed back in multiple court filings and have pointed the finger at people inside Brian Albert’s home where a party had been taking place. They say autopsy photos and other evidence shows O’Keefe was beaten severely, with injuries to both sides of his face and the back of his head.

They also allege wounds seen on O’Keefe’s arms are consistent with dog bites. In one filing they allege, “four months after O’Keefe’s death, Brian Albert went to great lengths to dispose of critical evidence by making sure ‘Chloe,’ his family dog of seven years, simply disappeared.”

Albert and his relatives told investigators that O’Keefe never came inside the party, and they never saw him. Some of the party attendees are witnesses for the prosecution.

Read’s defense team has called the partygoers’ narrative illogical and questioned the independence of law enforcement’s investigation into O’Keefe’s death.

According to a defense, filing submitted two weeks ago, a relative of the homeowner searched and deleted “ho[w] long to die in cold” hours before O’Keefe’s body was allegedly discovered and removed several texts from her phone before it was turned over to the police.

Read’s lawyers are also demanding several pieces of evidence connected to O’Keefe’s death from the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office including O’Keefe’s clothing, tail light pieces from Read’s SUV, autopsy samples, and Canton Library surveillance videos.

According to a defense filing, the evidence has been at the State Police Crime Lab for more than a year and the prosecution has been withholding it.

David Traub, the spokesperson for the Norfolk District Attorney’s office, has said prosecutors are ethically constrained from speaking outside of court but in a statement, he questioned the defense claims.

“The Norfolk District Attorney’s Office has asked the defense repeatedly during the pendency of this matter to provide any actually exculpatory evidence to support their claims,” the statement said.

Prosecutors are expected to file a formal response in court on May 3.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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