Key players in the Karen Read murder case

Posted at 9:24 AM, April 16, 2024 and last updated 11:27 AM, May 10, 2024

Karen Read and John O’Keefe were in the company of numerous people from January 28 to 29, 2022, when a night of barhopping ended with O’Keefe’s body on the lawn of a police officer’s suburban Boston home. What each of those people told investigators became even more closely scrutinized when Read’s lawyers began accusing them of participating in a plot to frame her for her boyfriend’s death.

combo image of karen read and john okeefe

(L) Karen Read appears in court Jan. 5, 2024. (Court TV), (R) Boston Police Officer John O’Keefe (Boston Police Department)

Here’s a look at who’s who in Read’s murder trial for O’Keefe’s death, which has drawn an unusual amount of attention for stunning allegations of a law enforcement coverup to protect an unidentified culprit.

RELATED | Killer or Cover-Up Murder Trial (MA v. Karen Read)

Lawyers for those caught up in the defense allegations have denied wrongdoing. The Commonwealth, the Massachusetts State Police and the Canton Police Dept. have denied its members planted evidence, falsified police reports, or otherwise diverted the investigation toward Read and away from those responsible.

The following information comes from court documents and police reports obtained by Court TV.


John O’Keefe – Victim

  • John O’Keefe’s friends and relatives described the 46-year-old victim as a loving uncle, a loyal and generous friend, and a dedicated police officer, the Boston Globe reported. They expressed fear that the tragedy of his death has been forgotten amid the circus atmosphere of the trial.
  • Born and raised in Braintree, O’Keefe earned a master’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Massachusetts. He was an auxiliary police officer in Duxbury and Falmouth before joining the Boston Police Department at 29, according to the Globe. He was assigned to stations in Hyde Park, downtown, and Dorchester, and worked on the sex offender unit during his 15-plus years with the department.
  • O’Keefe reportedly switched to an administrative role when he became the legal guardian of his niece and nephew after his sister’s death.
  • O’Keefe and Read had been dating for two years when O’Keefe died. The couple didn’t live together but Read spent most nights at O’Keefe’s Canton home, where he lived with his niece and nephew. The teens provided firsthand accounts to investigators of the couple’s allegedly deteriorating relationship, but they weren’t the only ones.

Karen Read – Defendant

  • Before she became a murder suspect, Karen Read worked in finance and at one point served as an adjunct finance instructor at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts, according to
  • Read told ABC’s Nightline she and O’Keefe dated in their 20s and reconnected on Facebook more than a decade later. She became part of the O’Keefe family, helping care for O’Keefe’s niece and nephew. Over time, Read said O’Keefe became critical of her childcare decisions, straining the relationship.
  • Read and O’Keefe joined the Alberts, the McCabes and their friends at the Waterfall Bar & Grille in downtown Canton the night of January 28, 2022.
  • A witness at the bar said Read complained about O’Keefe’s mother and the lack of private time the couple had for vacations partly because of O’Keefe’s children.
  • Read told investigators that she left O’Keefe at the Albert residence after fighting with him in her car over childcare. She drove back to O’Keefe’s home and woke the next morning in a panic when he wasn’t there.
  • Read used O’Keefe’s niece’s phone to call Jennifer McCabe and Kerry Roberts. The two women drove with her to the Albert residence at 34 Fairview Road, where they came upon O’Keefe’s bruised and frozen body on the lawn.
karen read key players graphic

Court TV

Brian Albert – Owner of the Canton home where O’Keefe’s body was found outside

  • Retired Boston Police officer and lifelong Canton resident Brian Albert said O’Keefe never entered his Fairview Road home on the night in question.

    brian albert testifies

    Witness Brian Albert testifies during the trial of Karen Read at Norfolk County Superior Court, Friday, May 10, 2024, in Dedham, Mass.  (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, Pool)

  • Albert and his wife, Nicole, met family and friends at the Waterfall Bar and Grille in downtown Canton the night of January 28, 2022.
  • The Alberts invited everyone to their house when the bar closed around midnight. The Alberts said they did not know Read and had only met O’Keefe a handful of times before, but they were welcome all the same.
  • The Alberts said they learned of O’Keefe’s death the next morning from Jennifer McCabe, Nicole Albert’s sister.
  • Read’s defense claims early morning phone calls between Brian Albert and his friend, Brian Higgins, suggest something was amiss long before O’Keefe’s body was found.
  • Through his lawyer, Albert has denied he was involved in O’Keefe’s death or a plot to frame Read.

Nicole Albert – Wife of Brian Albert

  • Nicole Albert said she arrived at the Waterfall Bar & Grille around 7:30 p.m. for dinner with family. Her husband, Brian, arrived around 10 p.m.

    nicole albert testifies

    Nicole Albert testifies during the trial of Karen Read at Norfolk County Superior Court, Friday, May 10, 2024, in Dedham, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, Pool)

  • Albert said she had never met Read before the night in question and only knew O’Keefe as the uncle of her niece’s friend.
  • Albert said she did not know that her sister, Jennifer McCabe, invited Read and O’Keefe to her house, but they never showed up.
  • Everyone left the Albert home around 1 a.m.
  • Albert said she learned of O’Keefe’s death the next morning when her sister came into her bedroom and informed her and her husband.
  • The defense claims cell phone data suggests McCabe called her sister within minutes of discovering O’Keefe’s body and calling 911.

Caitlin Albert – Daughter of Brian and Nicole Albert

  • caitlin albert testifies

    Caitlin Albert testifies Tuesday, May 14, 2024 in the trial of Karen Read. (Court TV)

    Caitlin Albert went to the Waterfall Bar & Grille with her mother, Nicole, and aunt, Julie Albert, for dinner the night of January 28, 2022.

  • Caitlin went home with her family when the bar closed.
  • Her boyfriend picked her up from her house around 12:15 a.m. on January 29.
  • Caitlin attended high school with Canton firefighter/paramedic Katie McLaughlin, one of the first responders to the 911 call reporting O’Keefe’s body.

Kevin Albert – Brother of Brian Albert, Canton Police officer

  • One of Brian Albert’s six siblings.
  • According to Read’s defense, he tried to act as an intermediary for his brother and his brother’s friend, Brian Higgins, after federal grand jury subpoenas went out.
  • Kevin called Higgins after Higgins stopped returning Brian’s calls and texts. “There’s only one way to interpret that: Brian Albert was concerned Brian Higgins had flipped on him,” Read lawyer David Yanetti said in a hearing.
  • Kevin Albert’s lawyer described him as a respected 19.5-year veteran of the Canton Police Department. “Any insinuation that he participated in a conspiracy is untrue.”

Jennifer McCabe – Sister-in-law of Brian Albert, wife of Matthew McCabe

  • Jennifer McCabe said she knew John O’Keefe through her daughter, who was a friend of O’Keefe’s niece. McCabe came to know Read through O’Keefe.
  • McCabe and her husband Matthew said they arrived at the Waterfall Bar & Grille around 9 p.m. after attending a high school basketball game.
  • The McCabes were among those who went from the bar to the afterparty.
  • Jennifer McCabe invited O’Keefe and Read to the afterparty, texting O’Keefe the address and where to park.
  • McCabe and her husband said they saw Read’s car arrive at the Albert residence then leave. She said she did not see Read or O’Keefe exit the car or enter the house.
  • McCabe said she and her husband left the Albert residence around 1:30 a.m. and gave rides home to two friends of Brian Albert, Jr.
  • Read’s defense claims an analysis of McCabe’s cell phone suggests she left closer to 1:47 a.m. and passed O’Keefe’s home on her way home.
  • Around 4:53 a.m., Read called McCabe from O’Keefe’s niece’s phone looking for O’Keefe.
  • Read and McCabe drove with Read’s friend Kerry Roberts to the Albert home. They arrived around 6:00 a.m. to find O’Keefe’s body in the snow.
  • After discovering the body, McCabe said she and Read prayed the “Our Father” together inside Read’s car.
  • McCabe said Read asked her to Google something to the effect of “How long do you have to be left outside to die from hypothermia?”
  • Read’s defense, however, claims McCabe’s cell phone data suggests the search occurred at 2:27 a.m.
  • Read’s defense claims McCabe tried to delete the Google search along with calls and texts with Brian Albert that may point to a coverup.
  • The timing of the Google search is a key point of contention in the case. The Commonwealth claims Read’s cell phone expert misinterpreted the data.

Chris Albert – Brother of Brian Albert, husband of Julie Albert, father of Colin Albert

family photo

This photo provide in court documents obtained by Court TV shows Trooper Michael Proctor’s mother (in white), Proctor’s sister (tan cardigan), Colin Albert (gray T-shirt), Chris Albert (blue polo) (Court documents)

  • One of Brian Albert’s six siblings. Chris Albert and wife, Julie Albert, have made conflicting statements about whether they attended the afterparty. 
  • Read’s defense claims Chris and Julie Albert were part of a meeting at the Fairview Road residence where the cover-up began the morning O’Keefe’s body was found.
  • Read’s defense portrays Chris as a direct link to lead investigator Michael Proctor’s family.
  • Chris and his wife, Julie, were at the Waterfall Bar & Grille. He told investigators that they “followed” Brian Albert to his home, but it’s not clear if they went inside. He told a grand jury they went home without attending the afterparty.
  • Read’s defense says Facebook photos depicting the Alberts and relatives of Proctor are evidence of close personal ties between Proctor and the Alberts.
  • Defense filings include images described as photos from Proctor’s sister’s Facebook profile. One dated July 15, 2016, shows Chris Albert and his son, Colin, with a group of adults and children identified as Proctor’s mother and his sister.
  • Prosecutors say the couple have suffered threats and harassment because of the defense claims. Chris Albert owns a pizza shop that has been the target of demonstrations and bogus orders.

Julie Albert – Sister-in-law of Brian Albert, wife of Chris Albert, mother of Colin Albert

  • Read’s defense portrays Julie Albert as a key link between the Alberts and the family of lead investigator Michael Proctor.
  • Julie attended the wedding of Proctor’s sister and has cared for her children.
  • Like her husband, Julie was at the Waterfall Bar & Grille on January 28, 2022. She said she “followed” her brother-in-law to his home, but it’s not clear whether she entered the house. She later told a grand jury she went home from the bar and did not attend the afterparty.

    Chris Albert (right) and his wife Julie

    Chris Albert (right) and his wife Julie sent photos to John O’Keefe of themselves on his property while he was out of town as a joke because O’Keefe was known for wanting people to stay off his lawn. (Trial Exhibit/Court TV)

  • Julie told the grand jury she first learned of O’Keefe’s death when she went to the Albert home the next morning to drop off a birthday cake for her nephew, Brian Albert, Jr. She told investigators she learned about his death after missing a call around 5 a.m. from Jennifer McCabe.
  • In a pretrial hearing, Read’s lawyer Alan Jackson said federal investigators learned that, two days after O’Keefe’s death, Trooper Proctor’s sister sent him a text concerning Julie Albert: “Just saw Julie. And Julie said when all this is over, she wants to give you, Michael Proctor, a thank you gift,’” Jackson said, summarizing the purported text.
  • In another purported text with family members 10 days before O’Keefe’s death, Jackson said Trooper Proctor discussed “the specifics” of having Julie babysit his toddler child.
  • Prosecutor Adam Lally acknowledged the relationship between Proctor’s sister and Julie Albert and offered an explanation: “Julie Albert had provided childcare in a pinch on several occasions for Trooper Proctor’s sister,” Lally said.
  • Prosecutors say Julie has also endured threats and harassment because of the defense’s claims.

Brian Higgins – Close friend of Brian Albert with a romantic connection to Read

  • Higgins is an agent with federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms who has an office in the Canton Police Dept.
  • Higgins was at the Waterfall bar and in the Albert home for the afterparty on the night in question.
  • Two weeks before O’Keefe’s death, Higgins said Read unexpectedly kissed him on the lips while Higgins was at O’Keefe’s house to watch a football game. Higgins and Read began exchanging texts expressing a “mutual liking” for each other with Read inviting Higgins over to her house at least once.
  • It’s not clear if Higgins interacted with Read when the two were both at the Waterfall Bar & Grille.
  • Read’s defense said Higgins initially told investigators he did not speak to anyone the morning after he left the party, but the federal probe of the Read case suggested otherwise.
  • Brian Albert called Higgins around 2 a.m. and Higgins called him back but the two did not speak. Both men said the calls were “butt dials” that they placed from their respective beds.
  • Higgins also said he ignored a call from former Canton Police Chief Kenneth Berkowitz that morning and later found out about O’Keefe’s death from Albert.

Juliana ‘Julie’ Nagel – Friend of Brian Albert Jr.

  • Julie Nagel was at the Albert residence for Brian Albert, Jr.’s birthday party.
  • Nagel called her brother to request a ride home, then decided to stay longer.
  • When she went outside to tell her brother that she would find another way home, she said she saw Read’s car but did not hear any screaming or see anyone exit the car.
  • Nagel said she left with the McCabes around 1:30 a.m.

Ryan Nagel – Brother of Julie Nagel

  • Ryan Nagel said his sister called him on the night in question asking for a ride home from the Albert residence.
  • A friend drove Nagel to Fairview Road, and they pulled up in front of the house at the same time as a midsize black SUV resembling Read’s.
  • He declined his sister’s invitation to join the party and left.
  • As he drove away, Nagel said he looked inside the SUV and saw a white woman alone in the driver’s seat.
  • Nagel also told police he didn’t hear or see activity suggesting people were arguing inside the SUV.
graphic in karen read trial

Court TV

Michael Proctor – Lead investigator

  • Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael Proctor and his partner arrived at the Albert home the morning of January 29, 2022, a few hours after Canton Police. They took over the investigation because homicide cases are typically the jurisdiction of state police, and because of the conflict of interest between Brian Albert and his brother, a Canton Police detective.
  • Read’s defense says conflicts of interest existed among Proctor, the McCabes and the Alberts because of close personal relationships among the three families, a conflict that created a “debilitating bias” against Read in the investigation. The Commonwealth calls the relationships “tenuous” at best, saying Proctor is a few people removed from any direct contact with Brian Albert or the McCabes.
  • Read’s defense points to Facebook photos to support their conflict of interest claims.
  • One photo is described as showing Chris Albert, and Chris’ son, Colin Albert, with Proctor’s sister and mother at a social gathering with other children and adults.
  • Another photo at a wedding purportedly shows young Colin Albert and Proctor in a photo with Proctor’s sister, the bride.
  • A Proctor family lawyer laid out the degrees of separation in the wedding photo: Brian Albert’s sister-in-law, Julie Albert – Chris’ wife – was friendly with Proctor’s sister, and Proctor’s sister invited Julie and her young son to the wedding.
wedding portrait

This photo provided in court documents obtained by Court TV shows Trooper Michael Proctor (far left) at his sister’s wedding. Also pictured is Colin Albert, nephew of homeowner Brian Albert. (Court documents)

Elizabeth Proctor – Wife of Michael Proctor

  • Read’s defense tried unsuccessfully to obtain cell phone records of Trooper Michael Proctor’s wife, Elizabeth, after Read supporters posted photos on social media showing Jennifer McCabe’s car outside the Proctor home in September 2023.
  • The Commonwealth said the women met to commiserate over the threats and harassment they’ve endured because of their connection to the case. Prosecutors also said Trooper Proctor was not home when the women met.

Colin Albert – Nephew of Brian Albert, son of Chris and Julie Albert

  • Colin Albert was 17 when O’Keefe died.
  • According to the Commonwealth, Colin left his uncle’s home shortly before the group arrived from the bar. Albert was at the house celebrating his cousin, Brian Albert, Jr.’s birthday. A defense motion claims he left the house around 12:30 a.m.
  • In addition to a July 2016 Facebook photo, the defense points to another photo dated May 16, 2012, of a wedding party as evidence of a relationship between the Proctors and the Alberts. The photo allegedly shows Proctor’s sister as the bride, Proctor himself, and Colin Albert as a young boy.
  • A Proctor family lawyer laid out the connections in the wedding photo: Colin’s aunt – Julie Albert’s sister – was friendly with Proctor’s sister, and Proctor’s sister invited Julie and Colin to her wedding. 
  • Prosecutors say Colin has become the target of online harassment and threats after a blogger accused him of being involved in O’Keefe’s death.

Kenneth Berkowitz – Former Canton Police Chief

  • Former Canton Police Chief who resigned in 2022.
  • Called Brian Higgins after O’Keefe’s body was found.
  • One week after the incident, while driving past the Albert home, investigators said he allegedly found a piece of red plastic consistent with Read’s taillight.

Aidan Kearney – Blogger and Read supporter accused of intimidating witnesses

  • Kearney runs a website and social media accounts under the name “Turtleboy,” where he has published hundreds of text and video posts promoting Read’s conspiracy and coverup claims.
  • He organized a rally in 2023 in which he led dozens of chanting demonstrators to the homes of people involved in the case.
  • He posted videos of himself leaving disparaging voicemails on the cell phones of people involved in the case.
  • Prosecutors charged him with multiple counts of witness intimidation, some of which were dropped. Others remain active.