An 81-year-old Colorado man confessed to killing his wife and daughter and said he did it so the family would avoid homelessness, according to police.
Reginald L. MacLaren was arrested at the weekend after detectives discovered the bodies of his wife Bethany MacLaren, 70, and daughter Ruth Jennifer MacLaren, 35, at an apartment in Englewood, Englewood Police Division Chief Tracy Jones told a press conference on Tuesday.
Violence against women by their family members is a pressing global concern. Some 47,000 women and girls worldwide were killed by their intimate partners or other family members in 2020, according to a 2021 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. That means that, on average, a woman or girl is killed by someone in her own family every 11 minutes. The Americas had seen a nine percent increase in gender-related killings of women and girls over the previous decade, the report said.
The police said that they were called on March 25 at 6 p.m. by Reginald MacLaren who told them he had arrived home to find his wife and daughter dead. He told them he believed he knew who the suspect was and added he thought the killer had possibly used a hammer.
When police arrived at the apartment, they found the bodies of his wife and daughter in large trash cans.
“Both victims sustained substantial injuries and there were no signs of life,” Jones said.
“During the course of the [homicide] investigation, it was determined that both victims were killed with an axe and one of the victims had been dismembered with a saw.
“During the investigation the detectives were able to come up with enough probable cause to arrest Mr. MacLaren on first-degree murder charges,” he added.
Jones said that upon his arrest MacLaren was cooperative with the police.
“Some of our detectives have been detectives for 20 years and they described this as one of the most gruesome crime scenes that they have ever been a part of,” he said, adding that detectives who went to the crime scene had been offered mental health support due to the nature of the homicides.
According to a Denver 7 report, in the arrest affidavit, Reginald MacLaren allegedly confessed to police he had planned to kill his family to avoid them becoming homeless.
During an interview with police he told them he had recently lost his job at the Hospital Shared Services and had no money left.
He added he would regularly interact with people experiencing homelessness and knew “what a miserable life that was.”
So 10 days prior to their deaths he began to plan to kill his family “so they would not be homeless,” he told the police.
This preparation including purchasing an axe, two trash cans and a handsaw, all items that were stored in his apartment.
The day of the homicides, MacLaren said that he knew they would have to leave the apartment the day and they had nowhere else to go.
During the press conference, Jones discussed this confession and when answering a question from a reporter discussed the validity of the suspect’s story.
He said: “Eventually, after speaking with detectives, he did confess.
“To the best of my knowledge he was cooperative. He seemed distraught, that is part of our investigation, we are trying to determine why he did what he did.”
Speaking about whether it was true the family was going to be homeless, Jones said: “I think that is all part of the investigation that we are trying to determine whether that was in fact the case.”
Jones also issued a message to anyone who is facing homelessness and said: “For those people who feel that there is no hope, please reach out to the Englewood Police Department.
“We have co-responders, we have an MRU, a mobile response unit, that is their job, they try to help people, get them housing. There are a ton of services that are available and we would please ask that they reach out to the Englewood Police Department if they are needing those services.”
Newsweek has contacted the Englewood Police Department via email for comment.