Mar 7, 2024 - Culture

Karen Read case hits small-town Canton hard

A crowd outside court

Photo: Matt Stone/Boston Herald via Getty Images

The stress brought on by a controversial murder case is starting to show in the town of Canton, where neighbors and families are taking sides in a debate over homicide, institutional corruption and free speech.

Why it matters: Canton residents who say defendant Karen Read is being framed for the murder of her boyfriend, Boston police officer John O'Keefe, have claimed the local police and other town institutions are behind a giant cover-up, according to the Boston Globe.

What they're saying: "The Karen Read case lit a match and started a wildfire, and that fire spread quickly," Congregational Church of Canton Rev. John Tamilio III told the Globe.

  • "I don't know how much of that fuel existed before the death of John O'Keefe, but the 'Free Karen Read' people do feel that there is corruption at every level in town," Tamilio said.

Catch up quick: Read stands accused of hitting O'Keefe with her SUV and leaving him to die outside a New Year's party hosted by another Boston cop.

  • Read's defense says there's a plot by police to frame her for the killing and that O'Keefe was killed inside the home.

Flashback: Popular local blogger Aidan Kearney, aka Turtleboy, publicized the Read case, which grew into the "Free Karen Read" campaign.

  • Kearney is himself now charged with witness tampering and working with Read to leak information on the case.

The big picture: The fervor in Canton coincides with Americans' growing mistrust of institutions.

What's next: Two Select Board candidates campaigning for the April 2 election say they want to uncover any wrongdoing in the Read case, including possible corruption in the police force and other parts of town government.

Read's trial is set for April 16.

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