Karen Read

Lead investigator in Karen Read trial finishes testimony, supervisor takes stand

Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael Proctor told the court Wednesday that he once texted his sister that Read would hopefully "kill herself"

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Editor's note: The testimony was at times graphic.

The lead investigator in the Karen Read murder trial completed his testimony on Wednesday, and his unit's supervisor, Det. Lt. Brian Tully, took the stand.



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Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael Proctor's testimony was nothing short of explosive this week; some say the damage from his testimony to the prosecution may have already been done.

Of the more than 50 witnesses we've heard from during trial so far, the testimony from the lead investigator in this murder case may be the most damaging for the prosecution.

Proctor told the court Wednesday that he once texted his sister that Read would hopefully "kill herself," a new revelation after he'd already admitted sending inappropriate texts about the defendant.

The defense grilled Proctor for several hours, challenging his handling of the investigation.

The prosecution had called Proctor to the stand Monday, and he read vulgar text messages aloud that he exchanged with family, friends and even his bosses pertaining to Read.

"I text my wife, 'We're gonna lock this whack job up. Yeah, she's a babe, weird Fall River accent though, no a--,'" testified Proctor.

That was just one of the messages that Proctor sent to his inner circle during his investigation into John O'Keefe's death, describing Read's body, appearance and calling her names. He admitted on the stand that his messages were regrettable and unprofessional.

However, his words have transcended the trial and shined a spotlight on state police. Now trial experts, former police officers and a professor of criminology at Boston University says he's concerned this case may be over.

Lead state investigator Michael Proctor returned to the stand with more bombshell testimony, including reading more text messages he wrote about Karen Read and the investigation into death of John O'Keefe. Those messages included derogatory and sexist remarks. Follow NBC10 Boston on... Instagram: instagram.com/nbc10boston TikTok: tiktok.com/@nbc10boston Facebook: facebook.com/NBC10Boston X: twitter.com/NBC10Boston

"The testimony about the text messages was extremely damaging to the prosecution's case and potentially fatal," said Tom Nolan, former Boston police officer.

The prosecution painted Read as a murderer, guilty of hitting O'Keefe with her car and leaving him to die in the snow. Read's lawyers maintain this is a cover up by law enforcement and have already highlighted that Proctor was a close family friend of the Alberts — the family who owned the home where O'Keefe's body was found. 

Despite Proctor's comments displaying misogyny and sexism, he is still employed by state police, though he is under internal investigation.

Proctor maintains his comments have no bearing on the integrity of his investigation.

NBC10 Boston asked state police for comment about Proctor's texts.

"We do not have comment at this time due to Trooper Proctor being a witness in an ongoing trial," a department spokesperson said.

We have heard from more than 50 witnesses since the murder trial against Karen Read began, but Massachusetts State Police Trooper Michael Proctor's testimony Monday has a lot of people talking.

'Juvenile and regrettable': More testimony about Michael Proctor's text messages

Proctor returned to the stand shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday, with defense attorney Alan Jackson continuing to cross examine him.

Before court started for the day, Judge Beverly Cannone announced that one of the jurors had dropped out for a personal reason. No further details were shared.

Jackson began the proceedings by attempting to have a hard copy of Proctor's text messages introduced into evidence. Assistant District Attorney Adam Lally objected, leading to an immediate sidebar with Cannone.

Following the sidebar, several packets containing printed versions of Proctor's text exchanges were entered into evidence.

Proctor resumed his testimony shortly before 9:30 a.m., testifying about a group text thread with nine of his high school friends about the Read investigation. The state trooper acknowledged that he did not think that text thread would ever become public.

The text exchange, Jackson said, took place on Jan. 29, 2022 at 10:52 p.m., the day of O'Keefe's death. Proctor acknowledged that he revealed details about the investigation, including the name of the victim, 16 hours after the incident.

At 10:56 a.m., a friend of Proctor's texted that "I'm sure the owner of the house will receive some [expletive]."

Proctor answered with one word: "Nope." He then followed up that text by saying, "He's a Boston cop too."

"The fact of the matter is you hadn't been to the crime scene... you hadn't been inside the home, you had questioned a grand total of three percipient witnesses at this point, and two of the three were named McCabe and one of the three was named Albert, Jackson said. "And it's against that backdrop that you wrote "Nope, the homeowner's not going to get any [expletive] because he's a cop."

"That's not what I meant by that," Proctor replied.

Additional texts from Proctor were shown where he wrote, "She waffled him. I looked at his body at the hospital," referring to O'Keefe. "He was banged up." Proctor later explained that by waffling he meant he had been hit by a car.

Jackson attempted to show that before he had even been to the crime scene or entered the house, Proctor believed he had the case solved.

"Did you in your mind have this case wrapped up? Was it cut and dry in your mind?" Jackson asked.

"Yes," Proctor replied.

Proctor then explained to his friends in the text thread that he believed Read hit O'Keefe with her car. But he said in another text that it would be difficult to prove it was intentional.

"But I assume you guys are out to make it cut and dried, since it involves cops," one of Proctor's friends then wrote.

"Something stinks," another chimed in.

"Yeah, but there will be some serious charges brought on the girl," Proctor replied, referring to Read.

As the text exchange was read, Read could be seen smiling broadly.

Jackson then read another text from one of Proctor's friends, who said, "She hot at least?"

"From all accounts he didn't do a thing wrong. She's a whack job [expletive]," Proctor replied. He then added, "Yeah, she's a babe. Weird Fall River accent, though. No ass."

"No ass. Now you're talking about her body, her physique," Jackson said. "Think that's appropriate?"

"Absolutely not," Proctor replied.

One of his friends then texted that Read was going to "skate," or go free.

"Zero chance she skates," Proctor replied. "She's f****d."

On Feb. 2, 2022, one of Proctor's friends texted, "Is that chick a smoke?"

Proctor wrote "Eh" and then "Nutbag," followed by a disparaging remark about a medical condition that Read suffers from.

Jackson then pointed out that Read had undergone 10 different surgeries years earlier and suffered from serious gastrointestinal medical issues.

"At this point, Ms. Read was just reduced to a punchline to you, wasn't she?" Jackson said, a statement that was quickly objected to by Lally and sustained by the judge.

Proctor called the text exchanges "juvenile and regrettable," but said they did not in any way impact his investigation into O'Keefe's death.

Proctor testifies about ties to key witnesses in the case

Jackson then turned to Proctor's relationship with the Albert and McCabe families. Proctor testified during a prior proceeding that he didn't know them. He testified Wednesday that he has "little to no relationship" with Chris and Julie Albert.

"I don't know the McCabes. I don't have a relationship with the Alberts," Proctor said. "I know some of them -- Julie and Chris... and Colin."

"The way I interpreted 'relationships' was basically like being friends, or you know, frequent communications. That's how I interpreted it," he added.

Proctor said he stands by his earlier testimony that he didn't have relationships with the Albert family, saying he knew some of them but wasn't close with them.

Jackson also asked about Proctor's sister, Courtney, who he considers his best friend and is very good friends with Julie Albert. Proctor testified that he has been at his parents' house at the same time that Julie, Chris and Colin Albert were there.

He said he wouldn't consider himself a close friend of Julie Albert's, but they both had each other's numbers in their cell phones.

Jackson then referenced several texts, including one sent on Feb. 24, 2022, when Julie Albert texted Proctor about a ski trip his sister was going on. And on Jan. 19, 2022, he texted with his sister about whether Julie Albert might be able to babysit for his son.

But when Proctor interviewed Julie Albert as part of his investigation into O'Keefe's death on Feb. 10, 2022, he acknowledged he never mentioned his relationship with Julie, Chris or Colin Albert in any report he drafted.

Jackson also asked about phone conversations Proctor had with Julie Albert and a text message exchange he had with his sister about that conversation. He then asked if the Alberts were treated like witnesses in a murder investigation or more like friends.

"Absolutely not," Proctor replied, in response to the friends remark.

Jackson also pointed out that Proctor updated his sister about the progress of the O'Keefe investigation, even mentioning that Julie and Chris Albert were involved. He also told his sister not to say a word to anyone.

They also went over a series of texts between Proctor and his sister where they talked about Julie Albert saying she wanted to get him "a thank you gift." Proctor said he replied that she should get his wife a gift instead.

During the course of the investigation, Jackson said there were dozens of calls between Proctor's sister and Julie Albert.

"Were you using Courtney, your sister, as an intermediary between you and Julie Albert?" Jackson asked.

"Absolutely not," Proctor said. He also said he made no concerted effort to keep Colin Albert's name out of the investigation.

"Colin Albert was not at the home. He left at approximately 12:10 a.m. before anyone from the Waterfall (Bar & Grill) had arrived back there."

Jackson then entered handwritten notes from Proctor about an interview he conducted with a witness who said Colin Albert was at the home on the night of O'Keefe's death. But his official report on the incident excluded Colin Albert's name.

"Yes, because he arrived later in the evening," Proctor replied.

When he finally did interview Colin Albert, Proctor acknowledged that he and another trooper conducted the interview. He testified that he took Colin Albert and Allie McCabe's word about the time that they left 34 Fairview Road.

Proctor said he never checked info from McCabe's mother Jennifer's Life360 app on her phone or canvassed the area around the McCabe home for any surveillance video that might have confirmed when Allie McCabe returned home that night. He acknowledged that one Canton police officer mentioned that there was a gas station in the area that might have surveillance footage.

Jackson also focused on the fact that Proctor did not immediately interview many of the people who were in the 34 Fairview Road home where O'Keefe's body was found until seven months or more after the incident.

At one point, Jackson asked Proctor if he is still the case agent in charge of the Read case, and he said he is.

Jackson also asked about his interview with ATF agent Brian Higgins on Feb. 10, 2022, where Higgins told the investigator he was engaged in a flirtatious relationship over text messages with Read, and they had kissed on one occasion.

Proctor said Higgins provided him with some text messages from his phone showing at least a portion of the text exchange between him and Read. Jackson also asked about a text Higgins sent to O'Keefe that night asking if he was going to the party at the Albert home on Fairview Road after the Waterfall Bar & Grill.

Proctor acknowledged he never sought a search warrant for Higgins' phone.

"Typically we don't get witnesses phones, sir," he said.

Jackson also asked Proctor about the medical examiner's ruling that O'Keefe's cause of death was "undetermined."

In a text exchange with another police officer regarding that ruling, Proctor said, "Of course it's undetermined. She's a whack job." But Proctor said he couldn't recall if he was referring to the medical examiner or someone else.

Proctor was also asked by Jackson about sharing identity of witnesses he was going to interview with Canton Police Officer Kevin Albert, the brother of witnesses Brian and Chris Albert. The Canton Police Department had already removed itself from the case due to the potential for a conflict of interest.

He also testified that he continued to work with Kevin Albert on a cold case together, went to the same gym and occasionally socialized. Five months into the Read investigation, on July 19, 2022, he acknowledged that they went out drinking together.

After a night of drinking, Kevin Albert left his badge in Proctor's cruiser and reportedly couldn't find his gun.

"Found your badge in my cruiser this morning," Proctor texted Albert the next morning.

Albert told him to leave it in his mailbox, and then said, "Did I take my gun?" and included a wincing face emoji.

Jackson then asked if Proctor was drinking and driving in his cruiser. Proctor said they were working on a cold case, stopped for dinner and had a few beers, and then he dropped Albert off.

The next day, Albert texted Proctor, "It's bad!! I was hung over for sure today!! Couple tonight to make me feel Good."

Jackson turned to evidence in the case, which Proctor managed, touching on the logs on that document who had possession of O'Keefe's clothes and the pieces of taillight, and then asking about the time listed incorrectly on several documents that he seized the Read's SUV, which said 4:16 though Proctor testified that it was 5:30. Proctor said he "incorrectly transcribed the times" on one document that he then used as a template for other documents.

"I never caught it on the first one," Proctor said, characterizing the mistake as "typos" when Jackson made a comment about all three digits changing.

Jackson asked Proctor to confirm that Read's vehicle was sent to the Canton police sallyport before pieces of broken taillight were found by investigators, which Proctor did. Proctor also said it "was not my decision" to have the SUV towed to the police department, and couldn't say whose it was.

Video was collected from a slew of locations, Jackson noted, estimating 360 videos were collected by police, and that much of it was handed over to the defense in the spring of 2022. Proctor denied, when asked, withholding any videos.

Jackson asked about surveillance video involving the Canton police sallyport, and Proctor said it "was discovered later on and then handed over," going to to confirm that the existence of the video was revealed in another legal proceeding this February.

Jackson read testimony from the proceeding where Proctor may have been interpreted as indicating he'd been familiar with the video, but which Proctor denied doing. He said he was only referring to video from outside the sallyport, which had been turned over, while acknowledging he could have been clearer in that testimony.

Proctor did confirm that he knew that if he had video it would show Read's vehicle arriving to the department at 5:30 or 5:31.

Grainy video from inside the sallyport eventually was turned over to the defense on April 4, but Proctor said he didn't recall if it was missing its precise time.

Proctor testified that he recently reviewed the video, in which he could see himself and members of Canton police — including then-Chief Ken Berkowitz. It also showed the SUV being dropped off in the garage, and some people seem to appear out of nowhere, apparently from the video skipping.

"The time stamp at the bottom was inversed" and yellow, Proctor noted, drawing some surprise from Jackson, who dug into it, asking if the video itself was inverted.

"No," Proctor said, "the way the vehicle was brought in in relation to the garage, the doors, into the PD, it wasn't reversed or inverted."

He said he reviewed the video Tuesday, prompting Jackson to ask, "were you reviewing video that was produced for this trial?"

Proctor said he wasn't aware they had any video that was inverted.

At that point, just before 1 p.m., Cannone called for lunch. The lawyers indicated they each expected to have less than an hour of questions left for Proctor.

After the break, Proctor testified that he didn't retrieve any of the videos from Canton police. He believed Tully got them from now-Canton Police Chief Helena Rafferty.

Proctor had possession of O'Keefe's cellphone, he said, and had access to the Ring video app on it, but said he never deleted any videos, including one, which has come up previously in the trial, of Read coming home the night O'Keefe died.

Proctor asked another trooper to review the ring footage, and Jackson had him review the notes. He wrote at 12:41 a.m., "Taillights from driveway (I think she arrived home)." But a report Proctor later wrote memorializing the Ring footage made no note of the 12:41 a.m. video.

When Jackson asked if Proctor was aware the video footage was gone, the trooper said, "Yes, it's something that I've tried to find," adding he'd tried to find another deleted video of some of the key players in the trial looking at the taillight as well.

Proctor texts his sister, 'Hopefully she kills herself'

Jackson turned to a new subject, asking if Proctor would agree that he treated Read differently from the Alberts and McCabes.

"Absolutely not," Proctor said. "Like I've said before, we followed the facts and the evidence with an open mind."

He noted, "At times I got emotional … and I said some stuff, texted some things that I shouldn't have."

That led Jackson to a text exchange from Feb. 4, 2022, several days after O'Keefe's death, in which he told his sister of Read, "Hopefully she kills herself."

Proctor explained it was "a figure of speech."

"Did you believe Karen Read was a problem or an issue for your investigaiton?" Jackson asked .

"No, absolutely not," Proctor replied, saying, when Jackson asked if Proctor was facing a lot of pressure, "There's a lot of pressure on every case, sir."

Proctor said he did not believe his life would be easier if Read would be dead, saying "my emotions got the best of me" because she left a police officer to died.

Jackson went through nine vulgar or insulting phrases Proctor testifed to saying in the wake of O'Keefe's death to ask if they were figures of speech, including, "whack job," and asked if Proctor agreed he'd dehumanized her.

"I would say based off that language, yes," Proctor replied.

But he denied that, when he texted a friend that the police officer who owned the home where O'Keefe's body was found "wasn't going to catch any s---," that it was because the homeowner, Brian Albert, was a police officer himself. It was because Albert didn't kill O'Keefe, Proctor said.

Jackson ended his questioning, saying, "Shame on you, sir." Cannone immediately told the jury to disregard the comment, saying that lawyers can't make statements, only ask questions, and to Jackson, "you know better than that."

Lally, the assistant district attorney, began his rebuttal by asking Proctor about comments he'd made Monday about another Read lawyer, David Yannetti.

"He basically stood up in open court, stated lie after lie about me," Proctor said.

"He had no basis and no facts for these wild accusations," the trooper continued, again asserting the "investigation was done with the utmost integrity."

Proctor continued with the start of a story that Cannone eventually struck from the record, that Yannetti had on Tuesday shown up at the school where his sister works with a witnesses, purportedly making her think she was being served with a subpoena.

Lally asked also asked about a picture shared by the defense team, whom Proctor "kept insinuating … were the McCabes' children when in fact those were my cousins," adding he's never met the McCabe's children.

Proctor went back through much of the evidence he'd processed that pointed to Read as O'Keefe's killer. But he also noted that, if he'd found evidence that went against their narrative, he would have pursued it.

The trooper also succinctly summarized what he believed Read had done by the time he texted his friends later that day: "I believed, based on all the physical evidence and facts, Mr. O'Keefe got out of that vehicle holding that cocktail class he walked out of the Waterfall Bar with, Ms. Read pulled ahead, and then backed into him, struck him with her vehicle, and then left."

With his opportunity for response questions, Jackson asked if that assessment gave him "license" to call her things like "c---."

"Based on the evidence, sir, my emotions got the best of me," Proctor said.

When Jackson finished the line of questions, Proctor was dismissed.

Norfolk DA's state police detective supervisor testifies

Tully, a lieutenant with state police since 2021 and deployed in the Norfolk District Attorney's office for 12 years, was called to the stand next. He explained his expertise and how his unit works with prosecutors to investigate homicides.

On Jan. 29, 2022, he was called in to the investigation when officers on scene realized the person who was stricken was a Boston police officer.

Lally soon asked Tully, at some point, had become aware of Proctor's disparaging texts about Read.

"I had a long discussion with him … I expressed my displeasure," Tully said, and noted he reported it to his superiors.

Tully described reaching out to a specialized state police evidence collection team about 2 p.m., anticipating he would need their help, then getting to the scene about 5:30 p.m., where they were working with shovels.

"They're professionals with expertise," Tully said. "Essentially I just point them in the direction."

After describing how state police collect evidence, Tully displayed a black Nike shoe of O'Keefe's found at the scene as well as pieces of taillight.

At 4 p.m., Cannone excused the jury, with more testimony expected Thursday.

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