'I freed them' was what Orion Krause told police after 4 people were killed

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Orion Krause, right, stands with his attorney Edward Wayland at Krause’s arraignment in Ayer District Court in Ayer, Massachusetts, on Sept. 11, 2017. 

Shortly after he confessed to police that he killed four people with a baseball bat, Orion Krause sang quietly to himself and said, “I freed them,” according to court documents unsealed Friday.

A Massachusetts judge released documents that detail – often graphically – the Sept. 8 deaths of Krause’s mother, Elizabeth Lackey Krause, 60; his grandparents, Frank Darby Lackey III, 89, and Elizabeth Lackey, 85; and their home health care worker, Bertha Mae Parker, 68.

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Krause, 22, a gifted musician from Rockport, has been charged with four counts of murder and is being held at Bridgewater State Hospital pending a psychiatric evaluation. He is next due in court on Oct. 30.

The court documents unsealed Friday outline the probable cause for Krause’s arrest and include written statements from four police officers who responded to the crime scene or spoke with the suspect.

Although detailed, the documents do not include any clear motive Krause may have had, other than his cryptic assessment that he “freed” the victims. They do, however, include an admission from Krause that he was a heroin user – a detail that has not previously been disclosed – although nothing in the documents indicates he used heroin immediately prior to the killings.

Police responded to a residence on Common Street in Groton, Massachusetts, shortly before 6 p.m. on Sept. 8. The homeowner, Wagner Alcocer, had called 911 to report that an unknown male, later identified as Krause, had shown up at his house.

Groton Police Officer Gordon Candow was one of the first to arrive.

“I walked up the step to the back patio and I could see a white male in his early twenties sitting in a patio chair,” he wrote. “The male was naked and it appeared he had rubbed mud all over his body. The male was also covered in thin cuts. When I approached him I asked, ‘Are you okay?’ and ‘What’s going on?’ The male stated, ‘I murdered four people.’”

Krause then told the officer who he killed. When asked where it happen, he pointed toward the woods near Alcocer’s house and said, “somewhere over there.”

At that point, Krause was handcuffed. Candow asked him the name of his grandparents and he responded, “Lackey,” and spelled it. The officer contacted dispatchers, who located a home at 80 Common St. – a few houses away from Alcocer’s – owned by Frank and Elizabeth Lackey.

Three officers went to the Lackey residence while Candow and another officer stayed behind with Krause.

Alcocer had found a sheet inside his house and the officers used it to wrap Krause up. When he sat back down in the patio chair, Candow wrote, Krause began singing and said, “I freed them.”

Groton Police Sgt. James Goodwin, who had gone to the Lackey residence, then radioed to Candow.

“I could tell by the tone in Sgt. Goodwin’s voice that he may have found the victims,” the officer wrote.

Krause was read his Miranda rights. He said he understand them and then declined to speak any further to Candow.

Goodwin and two others approached the Lackey residence. The sergeant wrote that he could see a light and a television on through a bay window.

“As I looked in the window I observed two elderly looking people seated separately in chairs facing my direction,” Goodwin wrote. “Both persons appeared to have severe trauma to the face and forehead.”

The front door was locked but Goodwin kicked it open in an attempt to try and administer aid to the victims, although they were already deceased. They were identified as the Lackeys, Krause’s maternal grandparents.

“As I walked a little closer I then saw a third victim that I was not able to see prior,” he wrote. “The victim was seated in a chair slouched down with the back of their head against the corner of the kitchen island.”

The third victim was later identified as Elizabeth “Buffy” Krause, Orion Krause’s mother.

After locating the three victims inside, Goodwin and the other two officers found a fourth victim outside, “face down in the flower bed parallel to the driveway.” That victim was identified as Parker, who was a health care worker for both Frank and Elizabeth Lackey. The documents do not indicate whether Parker was killed outside or whether she may have tried to flee.

As police gathered evidence from the scene, including a wooden baseball bat covered in blood and clothes that they suspected belonged to Krause, the suspect was taken by ambulance to a local hospital for an evaluation. It was during that evaluation that Krause told a nurse that he was a heroin user, according to Candow’s statement.

Alcocer, in an interview after the killings, had said Krause told him he needed his sleeping pills but there had been no other mention of drugs.

Krause grew up on Monhegan Island and then Rockport, an affluent midcoast community. He was a talented jazz drummer and graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music this past spring.

Friends and others who knew him and his family said the killings were entirely out of character.

The documents released Friday had been impounded by court order on Sept. 11, when Krause was arraigned. Media outlets challenged the order on constitutional grounds, and the judge rescinded her order Wednesday despite protest from Krause’s lawyer, Edward Wayland, who said the documents should remain closed to protect his client’s right to a fair trial and the privacy interests of his family.

“Future jurors in this case will be discussing these things long before my client has the ability to challenge their admissibility,” Wayland said.

In his request to keep the files closed, Wayland included affidavits from a psychiatrist and Krause’s father, Alexander “Lexi” Krause, who said that opening the records would cause the family grief.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or erussell@pressherald.com

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