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Read the texts between Karen Read and ATF agent Brian Higgins: ‘You think you can handle me?’

Catch up on the Karen Read trial, in 60 seconds
Here’s what you need to know about the Karen Read murder case and trial so far, in 60 seconds. (Olivia Yarvis/Globe Staff)

Prosecutors in the murder trial of Karen Read on Friday displayed a number of flirtatious text messages Read exchanged with Brian Higgins, an ATF agent, between Jan. 12 and Jan. 29, the day that her boyfriend, Boston police officer John O’Keefe, was found dead in the front yard of a Canton home.

Read, 44, of Mansfield, allegedly backed her SUV into John O’Keefe early on Jan. 29 after dropping him off outside a home on Fairview Road in Canton following a night of bar hopping and heavy drinking with friends, including Higgins. Read returned to the scene hours later and found O’Keefe’s snow-covered body on the front lawn allegedly shouting “I hit him” multiple times in the presence of first responders, witnesses have testified.

Attorneys for Read say she’s being framed and that O’Keefe entered the Fairview home, owned at the time by a fellow Boston officer whose son was celebrating his 23rd birthday, where he was fatally beaten in the basement before his body was planted on the lawn. The defense has pointed to text messages Read and Higgins exchanged in the days leading up to the tragedy to suggest he had a romantic interest in her.

What follows is a transcript of some of the texts between Higgins and Read that were read in Norfolk Superior Court on Friday and also displayed for jurors on a monitor. The texts span Jan. 12, when Read first reached out to Higgins, through late morning on Jan. 29.

Brian Higgins: How did you get my digits???

Karen Read: The Melissa and Lito Show.

Higgins: Ha ha. I thought you creeped John’s phone. Ha ha.

Read: No way [emoji]. I was the last person in Greater Canton who didn’t have your #. I think even Kerri has it.


Higgins: What?????? I just don’t give my personal number out to anyone. How would Kerry have my number?

Karen Read: We were tossing around the idea of a short vacay w the Curran Show. Wanted to see if you were game. ... Was just going to rent a beach house in Ft Laud. Something quick & easy.

Brian Higgins: Hmmm.

Read: I’m the queen of vacays too. Always a good time.

Higgins: I am going to Nashville next month 19-21 for a benefit. One of our guys got shot in the head. You guys should come.

Karen Read: You’re kind of a loner. Which I used to be.

Brian Higgins: Not really. I have a ton of buddies but I only let a handful of friends in that I am tight with. So you think you got me figured out?

Read: You never really can figure anyone out completely. Your dad died when you were young?

Higgins: He died in March 2020. I am so not a loser. You won’t figure me out lol.

Read: No one is a loser. I just didn’t mean “loner” to imply “friendless.” I’m sorry, that’s recent. It wasn’t Covid, was it?

Higgins: Cancer.

Read: I know you date girls who don’t lock the house behind them. And you are private. And observant. I’m sorry. What kind?

Higgins: Lung, brain, kidney, and pelvis. Don’t be sorry, life is hard sometimes. I always figure it out. Who chats?

Read: Life is hard. But losing ppl is the hardest, so I’m sorry. We chat.


Higgins: That all you got “we chat.” Sure you’re from Brockton. Spit it out.

Read: You and I chatted about the girl who kept forgetting the door lock.

Higgins: Ohhhhh. She has been out of play for like three months now. ... I just got a Saturday invite.

Read: Did you say yes?

Higgins: Not yet .... But did respond.

Read: What did you say? Mr. Elusive.

Higgins: No, I just don’t want to intrude on your couple’s night. Ha ha. I am shy.

Read: We prefer to hang out w non-couples. ... John said “Brian is being wishy washy now.”

Higgins: Ha ha. Did you tell him you texted me?

Read: No.

Higgins: [thumbs up emoji].

Brian Higgins: You cranky now?

Karen Read: Haha no. Just stop being so anti-couples. Most couples don’t even like each other.

Higgins: Name a few.

Read: Name a few? I don’t know ... all of them? They all want to hang out w single ppl.

Higgins: Hmmmm. ... Foul Ball.

Read: You stink.

Higgins: You suck. & your double! Trouble.

Read: You’re hot.

Higgins: Are you serious or messing with me?

Read: No I’m serious.

Higgins: Feeling is mutual. Is that bad? How long have you thought that???

Read: Are you okay driving? You don’t want to stay here? ...

Higgins: I wish. I think you’re messing with me.

Read: Why do you think that?

Higgins: Because this is so out of left field. Where did these feelings come from?


Read: I just think you’re like me.

Higgins: Meaning?

Read: Do you have your own kids?

Higgins: I have no kids. How am I like you? Ummmmmm. Hello.

Read: Aren’t we alike?

Higgins: I think so. ... Shoot straight with me.

Read: I told you. I just think we’re alike. Right??

Higgins: Yes, agree. Now what?

Read: I don’t know.

Higgins: Ummmm. Shouldn’t you know?

Read: Do you like me?

Higgins: Yes. From jump.

Read: When was ‘jump’?

Higgins: 1st time I saw you. ... When were you interested?

Read: I don’t know...you’re just my type.

Higgins: You think you can handle me? I thought you were happy? ?

Read: How do you know if I’m happy?

Brian Higgins: I have always thought that about you.

Karen Read: What?

Higgins: That you’re hot. Smart. Witty. But didn’t think you were interested.

Read: Witty?

Higgins: Yes, meaning quick with a response. Tell me why you got my number and reached out to me.

Read: Just thought we were the same/from the same neighborhood.

Brian Higgins: I’m glad I stopped by. I should have come earlier. Do you really live in Mansfield?

Karen Read: Yeah I was basically begging you [smile emoji].

Higgins: You don’t have to bed me. Beg.

Read: Huh?

Higgins: I will give you whatever you want. How are you texting right now? Uggghjj. Leaving me hanging.

Read: No.

Brian Higgins: Balls in your court.

Karen Read: What do you want?

Higgins: Loaded question. What do you want?


Read: I asked you!

Higgins: Nope, you initiated this.

Brian Higgins: Are you breaking up or staying together?

Karen Read: I don’t know. He hooked up w another girl on vacation. I am very close to his niece. .. It is a very [expletive] up situation.

Higgins: When was that & how did you find out they hooked up? I don’t want to complicate your situation.

Read: We went away for New Years. The four of us. I put the kids to bed and found him in the lobby of our hotel all over one of our friend [sic]. Whatever, it doesn’t matter.

Higgins: It does matter. Did they bang?

Read: Does that matter?

Higgins: Sorry, I was just asking. I was just trying to figure [expletive] out.

Read: It doesn’t really matter.

Higgins: OK, I won’t ask again.

Read: I don’t care :) It doesn’t matter.

Higgins: OK, hear you loud and clear Karen.

Karen Read: We did kiss earlier, no?

Brian Higgins: I think you initiated that...No?

Read: Yup. Do i owe you an apology?

Higgins: OMG, no. Why are you being sensitive?

Karen Read: What do you want from me?

Brian Higgins: What’s on the table?

Read: What do you want ideally?

Higgins: The real deal.

Karen Read: I’m not abnormally sensitive. ...

Brian Higgins: Awwww, I won’t be so hard on you.

Read: Omg you’re not. You called me trouble. That makes me sound bad.

Higgins: I was just playing with you.

Read: You weren’t but that’s okay.

The text records indicate Read and Higgins shared no texts after Jan. 23, 2022 until she texted him late on the morning of Jan. 29, writing simply, “John died.”

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.