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Colorado man allegedly used ax to dismember wife and daughter in ‘one of the most gruesome crime scenes’ detectives had ever seen

Reginald MacLaren (Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office)

Reginald MacLaren (Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office)

An 81-year-old man in Colorado was arrested over the weekend for allegedly killing and dismembering his wife and daughter with an ax, telling police he did not regret the gruesome slaying because he knew his family was “in a better place.”

Reginald MacLaren was taken into custody Saturday evening and charged with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of 70-year-old Bethany MacLaren and 35-year-old Ruth Jennifer MacLaren, authorities announced.

According to a press release from the Englewood Police Department, officers at approximately 6:03 p.m. on March 25 responded to a residence located in the 900 block of Englewood Pkwy after receiving a call from a man — later identified as MacLaren — who reported that his wife and daughter had just been murdered. Police say MacLaren told the emergency dispatcher that “he believed he knew the suspect and that the suspect had used a hammer” to kill the two women.

Upon arriving at the scene, first responders entered the home where they discovered “two victims inside large trashcans that were on the floor of the living room/kitchen area.”

Both victims appeared to have sustained “substantial injuries” and showed “no signs of life.” They were pronounced dead at the scene.

EPD homicide detectives, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation Crime Scene Unit, and the Arapahoe County Coroner’s Office all responded to the crime scene to conduct a joint investigation. During the course of that investigation, authorities say they determined that both of the women were killed with an ax, and “one victim was dismembered with a saw.”

Detectives say they found a Stanley brand hand saw near the garbage cans and “observed large amounts of blood throughout the apartment,” according to a sworn affidavit.

About three hours after the 911 call, detectives say MacLaren confessed to the murders, saying he had recently been terminated from his job, had no money left, and had to kill his family to prevent them from becoming homeless.

“Approximately 10 days ago, [MacLaren] began planning to kill his family so they would not be homeless,” the affidavit states. “He bought an ax, two ‘Totter’ style trash cans and a hand saw from Home Depot. He fully intended to use these items in the commission of the murders.”

MacLaren also allegedly provided details about the murders.

“This morning (3/25/23) at approximately 11 a.m., his wife and daughter were sitting on the couch. He struck his wife in the head with the ax, immediately knocking her unconscious,” the affidavit states. “He then struck his daughter in the head with the ax, knocking her unconscious. He struck each victim in the head with the ax two more times. He knew he had killed them.”

MacLaren further told investigators that he knew the bodies of his wife and daughter would not fit into the newly purchased trash cans, so he “used the saw had purchased to saw the victims’ arms and legs off” before putting their remains in the cans. However, he told police that he was not strong enough to lift the cans, so he couldn’t move the bodies.

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“[MacLaren] does not regret killing his family as he ‘knows they are in a better place,'” police wrote in the affidavit.

He was arrested and transported to the Arapahoe County Jail on first-degree murder charges.

Englewood Police Division Chief Tracy Jones said that some of the detectives who had been on the job for more than 20 years said the inside of MacLaren’s home was “one of the most gruesome crime scenes that they’d ever been a part of.”



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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.