Reading Business Owner Invested in Karen Read Trial

Nick Rocco is Team Karen Read
Nick Rocco outside of the Norfolk County Superior Court with Karen Read.
Nick Rocco outside of the Norfolk County Superior Court with Karen Read.

Pop music thumps in the background, reverberating off of the vaulted ceiling. Foil crinkles as a paste is spread over the top and then folded into a woman’s long blonde hair. A man of average stature and with a young face stands behind the chair, moving swiftly and with the air of expertise. The woman and man chatter back and forth as he works. If someone listened closely enough, they would no doubt notice that the chatter was punctuated throughout with one name—Karen Read.

Karen Read is accused of killing her boyfriend, John O’Keefe, a Boston police officer, in the early morning hours of January 29th, 2022. Read was arrested on February 1st, 2022, and first appeared in Stoughton District Court the following day, where she pleaded not guilty to manslaughter, motor vehicle homicide, and leaving the scene of a motor vehicle collision causing death. Four months later, on June 10th, a grand jury indicted Read on charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter while operating under the influence of alcohol, and leaving the scene of personal injury and death. Read pleaded not guilty to the new charges. 

So how does any of this relate to a hair salon in Reading?

Nick Rocco is a Wilmington resident and the owner of Rocco’s Hair Salon on Haven Street in Reading’s downtown. Rocco is a family man and a blue-collar worker. Not the person many would expect to be profoundly invested in one of the most notable cases in recent history.   


Rocco and Turtleboy

Rocco first became involved in the case shortly before the first court date in July 2023, after learning about it in April of that same year. Rocco says, “I first learned about this case by watching Turtleboy, and he started talking about it, and when I really started looking into the information there.” 

Aidan Kearney, or “Turtleboy” as he is more commonly known across the internet, is a prominent and controversial figure in the Karen Read story. Kearney began reporting about the Read case early, promoting his belief that it was an elaborate cover-up. Kearney has published over 300 articles in a series and publicly confronted many witnesses involved with the case. Kearney was charged with witness intimidation in October of 2023. Two months later, in December, Kearney was indicted on eight counts of witness intimidation, three counts of conspiracy to intimidate witnesses, and five counts of picketing a witness by a grand jury in Norfolk County.  For these and other charges he was held without bail for a period of 60 days starting in late December 2023.  Kearney denies all charges, asserting at a press conference after his arraignment, “Reporting the news is not harassment. Asking questions is not harassment.”

An unsealed affidavit in January revealed that Kearney had extensive contact with Read, something he had not disclosed to his audience. Rocco has maintained contact with Kearney but doesn’t consider it a personal relationship. He says, “I’ve spoken with Turtleboy many times about, you know, things that are going on. We pretty much stick to the Karen Read case. I wouldn’t say there is a personal relationship besides the Karen Read case.”

Nick Rocco at a recent hearing for Karen Read.

Deeper Involvement

Rocco laughs, saying he always wanted to do more for Read than just post “Free Karen Read” on his Facebook. He adds, “So I kind of became the fundraising guy for Karen Read.” Rocco helps run a Facebook page called “Justice For Officer John O’Keefe & Karen Read – Turtleboy Official”. This page has accumulated over 33,800 members and has seen over 3,500 posts in the last month alone. Besides discussing the case in the Facebook group, Rocco says, “I run these giveaways, trips, items–you name it, pretty much–and I’ve done a giveaway.” 

The money raised from the giveaways helps support Read. Rocco says he has raised over $172,000. One way they do this is by installing a billboard that Rocco helped put up outside of Gillette Stadium. Rocco discloses, “So basically, at the beginning of this, I would just come up with all kinds of these ideas of how we can spread awareness, and it took me about four months to find a company that would actually put a billboard up, and we finally found somebody right outside of Gillette Stadium.” They originally paid $5000 for two months to have the billboard, but the owner became a staunch supporter of Read, according to Rocco, and decided to leave the billboard up. Rocco estimates that after ten months of having the billboard up, at least a million people have seen it. The Facebook page also has a link to FreeKarenRead.net, where people can donate to help pay for Read’s legal defense.

I spend at least four to five hours a day on this case…

— Nick Rocco

The money from Rocco’s giveaways also helps pay for an attorney to contest the barrier outside the Norfolk Courthouse. “So what happened was Judge Beverley, while the Commonwealth put a motion in place to have a 500-foot buffer zone outside of the courtroom. And the protesters decided that they weren’t happy with that. We wanted to appeal it in the Court, so we hired an attorney to oppose it. Unfortunately, the judge did not hear our attorney on it, and she decided to rule on a 200-foot buffer zone. So what we did after that point was we formed the freedom to protest coalition, which is made up of over 500 people.” The case was taken to the single justice court where a single judge ruled on the case. This Court also denied the group’s claim. The coalition took it to the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, where it was also rejected on the basis that it didn’t infringe on the protestors’ First Amendment rights. The group appealed this decision. Rocco emphasizes, “If they don’t reconsider, we may take it to the United States Supreme Court.”

“My time is what I donate now, and I would say I spend at least four to five hours a day on this case, whether it’s just running the Facebook group or, you know, keeping track of the giveaway entries and things,” Rocco adds. On top of running the Facebook group, Rocco is a regular guest on the radio station Jam’n 94.5, where they do a weekly segment on Thursdays, and Rocco gives them updates about the trial. Rocco has also had multiple appearances and hopes to continue contributing to Court TV (see him at 11:10 of this video), where he discusses the case. Rocco has also been in the courtroom for several days since the start of the trial.

“Yes. I do talk to Karen Read. I do talk with her family. And one thing I think people forget is that Karen is still a human being.” Rocco emphasizes that many people forget that even though she is on trial for murder, she is a regular person. He says emphatically, “She’s just like me and you. Except she’s being framed for a murder she didn’t do. And, you know, some people say, oh, you shouldn’t talk to her this or that. And I think the total opposite, you know, I support her, and I support what her defense does.” 


The Defense and the Prosecution

Rocco and other Karen Read supporters believe the timeline and narrative established by the prosecution to be extremely flawed, if not completely fabricated. Rocco steadfastly advocates that Karen Read is “being framed for a murder she didn’t commit.” This is not a baseless narrative, and is, in fact, the defense Karen Read’s defense attorneys began presenting to twelve jurors in a Norfolk Superior Court courtroom on April 29th, 2024. Attorneys Alan Jackson and David Yannetti first established the claim that O’Keefe was killed inside Albert’s room on May 3rd, 2023. They expounded upon the idea of an extensive cover-up involving multiple governmental agencies on May 23rd, 2023, at a pretrial hearing.

She’s just like me and you. Except she’s being framed for a murder she didn’t do.

— Nick Rocco

The prosecution alleges that in the early morning hours of January 29th, 2022, Karen Read, John O’Keefe, and friends went to a bar in Canton, MA. Read had several alcoholic drinks. She then drove herself and O’Keefe to the home of a fellow Boston police officer, Brian Albert. Prosecutors believe that Read struck O’Keefe with her car and left him to die outside the home of Brian Albert.

Rocco refuses to believe that Karen Read could have killed John O’Keefe. He reiterates energetically while snipping at the woman’s hair, “A man who weighs 217 pounds, who is six foot two, they are trying to say that he was struck by a vehicle and the tail light broke, but on scene, they didn’t find any tail light pieces ’till twelve hours later, until after they had seized Karen’s vehicle.” The prosecution asserts that Read’s tail light broke in Brian Albert’s driveway when Read struck O’Keefe with her SUV. The defense disagrees, claiming that according to surveillance footage, Read struck another vehicle parked at her home, which explains the broken tail light. Rocco accredits pieces of the tail light being at the crime scene to the Canton Police Department; he says, “At that point, we go into the point of, we have all of the video footage missing from the Canton Police Department where they could have broken the tail light to plant the evidence.”


Questions about the Lead Investigator

Many supporters of Read postulate that one of the most significant faults of the case is the investigative work employed by the Canton Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police. Of that Rocco says, “They never searched the home of the Boston police officer who lived in the home, and the lead investigator of the case is very close family friends with the guy who owned the home.” The lead investigator Rocco refers to is Trooper Michael Proctor, who has close family ties to the Albert family, the owners of the home where O’Keefe was found dead.

Read’s attorneys claim that Proctor never investigated the Alberts and never attempted to search inside the home of Brian Albert. Rocco also brings up the points presented by the Read’s attorneys about Proctor, “The lead investigator of the case he himself is not a good cop. In fact, he has been caught by the FBI admitting to searching through Karen Read’s phone for inappropriate pictures to send to his friends. The district attorney is siding with these investigators who are currently under federal investigation.” Rocco refers to a 3074-page federal probe into Read’s arrest and prosecution, the contents of which has not yet been disclosed to the public. Read’s attorneys claim that this investigation found many inconsistencies and that one of the Alberts even offered to buy a gift for Proctor when the investigation was finished. 

They never searched the home of the Boston police officer who lived in the home…

— Nick Rocco

Proctor’s attorney, in an interview with CNN, says that his client did nothing wrong and they were fully cooperating with the investigations by the federal probe and the Massachusetts State Police’s internal review. According to NBC Boston, the Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey says that no police agency is involved in a cover up and it is a “desperate attempt to reassign blame”. 


The Case According to Rocco

Regarding what happened inside the house on January 29th, Rocco believes that all those inside the home are involved in the cover-up. Rocco has concluded that O’Keefe was killed by those inside Brian Albert’s home. He says, “And all of the people inside of this house claim to have not seen a body leaving this house. Then how could Karen Read have hit him at 12:30 in the morning because 12:30 in the morning is when she dropped him off? So when they all left at 1:00 in the morning, how do you miss a 6 foot 2 man in the front lawn when it’s snowing out and everything is white except the body? You don’t miss that.” 

The prosecution alleges that leading up to O’Keefe’s death the relationship between O’Keefe and Read had become tumultuous. O’Keefe’s brother testified that the couple had fought regularly over small matters. Another witness testified to the fact that Read knew O’Keefe had allegedly cheated on her during a vacation to Aruba a month prior to O’Keefe’s death. 

Rocco disagrees with the motivation offered by the prosecution. He offers two possible motivations for the people inside the home having killed O’Keefe. One is, “There was an ATF agent in the house named Brian Higgins, Brian Higgins, and Karen used to date. Brian Higgins and Karen were kind of having, like, a little thing on the side because when John and Karen went to Aruba. Apparently, John had cheated on her, so I don’t know if this is payback or if they, you know, so they ended up, they ended up sharing a kiss. And I think Brian Higgins wanted something more than that. So, there was only one thing stopping him from getting Karen. And that was John.”

Now, I don’t think anyone meant to kill John. I think it was a tragic accident.

— Nick Rocco

The second motive Rocco believes is possible is that O’Keefe was beaten up for reporting that the son of Brian Albert was dealing drugs without realizing that the son’s uncle was a Canton cop who likely told his brother, Brian Albert, about the report. Rocco says, “Now, I don’t think anyone meant to kill John. I think it was a tragic accident.” However, Rocco believes that there is too much evidence against the people who were inside of the home. Such as Jennifer McCabe, who had been in the Albert’s house the morning of January 29th, who searched at 2:27 a.m. “Hos [How] long to die in the cold”, long before McCabe went to help Read search for O’Keefe at 5:00 a.m. The prosecution claims they will be able explain that this search did not take place until after the body was discovered. 

Another point that Rocco makes is a point directly referenced by Read’s defense attorneys in their opening statement. They assert that when Proctor made his investigation, he claimed the head of Canton’s DPW said the Albert’s street had never been plowed. When the defense consulted the head of the DPW, they claim he said otherwise. Rocco says, “Also, the plow driver that went down the street that night. He went down at 1:30 in the morning, and he specifically said he had not seen the body on the lawn. When he came back down the street at 3 in the morning, he was confronted in the street by a Ford Edge that was parked exactly where John O’Keefe’s body was found the next morning. Whoever was in that Ford Edge supposedly didn’t see John or was parked there to hide any cameras that may have been in the area, so when they put his body in the lawn they wouldn’t get caught.”  

Rocco can be found posting photos of him walking into court with Read on his social media, captioned with zealous statements of her innocence. He writes, “One day very soon this walk is going to be a victory walk. The truth is coming out day by day in court, and the world is watching. Karen Read is being framed, and we are proud to support her and everything the defense team stands for. All I can say is they messed with the wrong one. The army behind you continues to grow day in and day out. WE AIN’T GOT NO QUIT! #freekarenread.”

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  • K

    KateJun 9, 2024 at 2:53 am

    Correction * Nick Rocco is on JamN 94.5 radio station every Tuesday and Friday mornings at 7:30am.

    Reply
  • S

    SondraMay 29, 2024 at 10:03 am

    A vicious purposefull attack or they would of got help for John. John would not have pressed charges if this was all fun and games especially if their friendship are what has been claimed. But, they made sure he could not because they did not help him. No accident – intentional only. This was in the making for a deeper reason we’ve yet to hear. Human cruelty to so many.

    Reply
  • M

    MooreMay 19, 2024 at 7:13 pm

    You also have to remember O’Keefe’s injuries. He had two fractures in his skull. I swollen scratches on his hand his arm, and you can’t get that from a thump of a car.

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