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This accused murderer has superfans bankrolling her defense

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A decorative photo illustration of Karen Read surrounded by supporters holding posters calling for her release.

Daily Beast, May 2024

The prosecution of Karen Read for the murder of her Boston cop boyfriend has galvanized a group of volunteers—most of whom have never even met her—to proclaim her innocence and raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for her legal defense. Supporters of the “Free Karen Read” movement spend their free time attending Read’s ongoing trial, analyzing the smallest bits of evidence, and organizing events to raise money for her defense fund. “I made great new friends,” Liz Erk, a single mother from Massachusetts who runs a PR consulting firm and went into court on Friday, told The Daily Beast. “It sounds so weird—this is a murder trial.”

The genesis of the group dates to a snowy early morning in January 2022, when police officer John O’Keefe was found unresponsive on a colleague’s front lawn after a boozy night—with signs of hypothermia and a severe head injury. Three days later, Read was arrested for his murder, kickstarting a true-crime saga riddled with conspiracy theories that have divided the small Massachusetts town of Canton.

Since Read’s arrest, a disparate group has come together to lead the “Free Karen Read” movement, which believes the 44-year-old former financial services professional and college lecturer is being “framed” for O’Keefe’s death in an elaborate cover-up by prosecutors and local police. There have been protest marches, pink-themed merch, and even criminal charges against a blogger charged with harassing prosecution witnesses.

Continue reading at the Daily Beast.

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