81-year-old man says he killed wife and daughter to avoid homelessness

Posted at 1:31 PM, March 29, 2023 and last updated 1:31 PM, March 29, 2023

By Stephanie Butzer

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (KMGH) — A Colorado man accused of killing his wife and daughter allegedly told police he planned to kill them so the family could avoid becoming homeless, according to an arrest affidavit.

Reginald L. MacLaren, 81, was arrested over the weekend on a charge of first-degree murder.

Reginald MacLaren is charged with killing his wife and adult daughter.

Reginald MacLaren, 81, who’s charged with killing his wife and adult daughter, told police he did it because he’d lost his job, couldn’t pay the rent, and was worried they’d be homeless. (Arapahoe County Sheriff)

According to a newly-released arrest affidavit, MacLaren called police Saturday evening and said he thought his wife and daughter had been murdered by someone with a hammer. He identified the victims as his wife, Bethany MacLaren, 70, and his daughter, Ruth Jennifer MacLaren, 35, and told authorities that both women were in the family apartment’s living room.

When police arrived at the complex, the front door was locked. When they knocked, MacLaren opened the door. He was asked to exit the apartment while officers swept the unit for potential suspects, according to the affidavit.

When the officers began to walk around the apartment, they saw suspected blood dripping from the top of a kitchen trash can and what appeared to be human hair coming out of the top. The officers also saw two large rollaway black trash cans on their sides in the living room.

According to the affidavit, the officers found one body in each of those trash cans. The cans appeared to be new, as they did not have scuffing on the wheels.

An Englewood detective spoke with MacLaren, who had been transported to Swedish Medical Center due to pre-existing medical conditions. He gave consent for detectives to enter the apartment and so two other detectives went to that scene.

The detectives also saw the two bodies in the trash cans. They found a large axe in a closet and a handsaw near the trash cans. They noted the large amount of blood in the apartment.

Shortly after 9 p.m., detectives spoke with MacLaren at the hospital again. He waived his rights verbally and in writing before answering questions.

During that interview, MacLaren said he had been employed at Hospital Shared Services, but recently was terminated and didn’t have any money left. He regularly interacted with people experiencing homelessness and “knew what a miserable life that was,” he said, according to the affidavit.

About 10 days prior, he began a plan to kill his family “so they would not be homeless,” he told police. He purchased an axe, the two trash cans and a hand saw and stored the items in his apartment.

The affidavit reads that Reginald MacLaren knew he had to leave the apartment the day of the homicides because he didn’t have rent money. He said they had nowhere to go.

This story was originally published March 29, 2023 by KMGH in Denver, an E.W. Scripps Company.