‘You’re hot’: ATF agent Brian Higgins testifies about flirtatious texts he exchanged with Karen Read

DEDHAM, Mass, — Brian Higgins, an ATF agent who was a friend of Brian Albert, a Boston police officer who owned the home in Canton where fellow officer John O’Keefe was found dead in the snow in January 2022, testified Friday about flirtatious text messages he exchanged with Karen Read, the woman charged in the death of O’Keefe.

Higgins, who was out with a group of people drinking at Canton bars with Read and O’Keefe on the night of death, had a romantic interest in Read, according to her defense team. The defense has also alleged that Higgins “coaxed” O’Keefe to the Albert house and later destroyed his phone.

Higgins was also the first person Albert called after learning of O’Keefe’s death but cell phone data presented as evidence showed Albert also called Higgins at 2:22 a.m. hours before O’Keefe’s body was found. Albert said he “inadvertently” made that call to Higgins during an “intimate situation” with his wife.

After the night out drinking at several bars, prosecutors say Read dropped O’Keefe off at a party at the Albert family’s home at 34 Fairview Road in Canton just after midnight and intentionally backed over him with her SUV in January 2022. It’s alleged that she drove away and returned hours later to find him in a snowbank.

The defense’s theory is that O’Keefe was actually beaten up inside the Albert home and dragged outside in a snowstorm and that the Albert family is at the center of an effort to frame Read.

Read, 44, of Mansfield, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder in O’Keefe’s death.

Prosecutors say Read and Higgins exchanged many romantic text messages in the weeks before O’Keefe’s death. Higgins was asked to read them in court on Friday.

In one of the messages shared in court, Read texted Higgins, “You’re, hot.” “Are you serious or messing with me?” Higgins replied. “No, I’m serious,” Read wrote. “Feeling is mutual. Is that bad? How long have you thought that?” Higgins asked.

Higgins also told the court that he was leaving O’Keefe’s house one day when Read “planted a kiss on me. Not like a friend.” Higgins added that he interpreted it as a “romantic” kiss.

In another exchange of messages, Read told Higgins, “I’m glad you came over tonight.”

Read also revealed in texts with Higgins that her relationship with O’Keefe had “deteriorated” and that he had “hooked up” with another girl on vacation.

“I’m not proud of these text messages, but I take responsibility at the same time,” Higgins said at one point during his testimony. “John was a friend.”

Higgins then told the court that the last text he received from Read was “John died.”

Read’s attorney Alan Jackson kicked off cross-examination by questioning Higgins about his “romantic interest” in Read. He responded, “I was physically attracted to her.”

Earlier this week, Laura Sullivan, a longtime friend of O’Keefe, testified that Read became enraged with O’Keefe during a vacation in Aruba weeks before his death, accusing him of kissing her sister, Marietta Sullivan.

Jennifer McCabe has also testified that soon after O’Keefe’s body was found, Read screamed, “I hit him! I hit him! I hit him!” and frantically asked her to conduct a Google search on how long it takes for someone to die of hypothermia.

The defense has accused McCabe of conducting an incriminating internet search hours before John O’Keefe’s body was discovered and then deleting the search to cover her tracks.

The case has garnered national attention because the defense alleges that state and local law enforcement officials framed Read and allowed the real killer to go free.


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