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Family feared son’s suicide before Groton quadruple murder

Orion Krause has pleaded not guilty to four counts of murder.Robert Mills/The Lowell Sun via Associated Press

Orion Krause had been gone only six hours. But his mother was desperate with worry, telling an emergency dispatcher that Krause, 22, had abruptly driven away from their house in Rockport, Maine, without telling anyone. She was worried he might take his own life.

“We told him that the world wants him alive, and he did promise that he wouldn’t do it, and so I am trying to have faith,” Elizabeth Krause said, according to a transcript of her Sept. 7 call. “I’m just concerned and I’m scared.”

The transcript provides a wrenching account of a mother agonizing over her son just a day before she would die — allegedly at his hands — along with two other relatives and a health aide at a family home in Groton, Mass.


During the call to the dispatcher, Elizabeth Krause reached out for help even as she tried to reassure herself that her son would be fine.

“I’m going to be, like, OK, I can deal with this. Give him some space and, and he’ll be OK,” said Elizabeth Krause, who called police from her home in Rockport. “I know it has only been six hours and I have been sitting here saying to myself, ‘You know, trust him, love him, have faith he’ll be OK.’ ”

The next morning, Orion Krause called his mother and said he was in the Boston area and needed a ride home, authorities say. Elizabeth Krause, 60, drove to Massachusetts to pick him up, and on the way back to Maine, they stopped at her parents’ house in Groton.

Late that afternoon, Orion Krause used a baseball bat to kill his mother, his grandparents, and a health aide working for the elderly couple at their home in Groton, prosecutors allege.

Elizabeth Krause, her parents, F. Danby Lackey III, 89, and his wife, Elizabeth “Esu” Lackey, 85, were found dead inside the home. The body of Bertha Mae Parker, 68, the caretaker who looked after the Lackeys, was found outside in a flower bed, police said.


After the attack, Orion Krause wandered to a nearby home, naked and covered in mud, where he told a neighbor what he had done, investigators said.

“I killed my family with a baseball bat,” he allegedly said. Investigators haven’t disclosed a motive for the slayings.

Orion Krause has pleaded not guilty to four counts of murder. He has been found competent to stand trial, but has been sent to Bridgewater State Hospital, a psychiatric facility run by the state prison system, while his case is pending.

Court records show that Krause has been administered antipsychotic medications since his arrest. Krause’s lawyer, Edward Wayland, has said his client needs to be in a psychiatric setting. Wayland said he couldn’t immediately comment on the transcript.

Authorities in Maine redacted some parts of the transcript, which was provided to the Globe in response to a public records request, and parts of the call were garbled. Yet the emotional exchange gives a glimpse into Orion Krause’s state of mind — through the eyes of his mother — the day before the murders.

The Middlesex district attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case, declined to comment Wednesday.

Elizabeth Krause told the dispatcher that her son didn’t do drugs or alcohol and didn’t own any weapons. She described him as wearing a dirty T-shirt and gray corduroy pants and said he left his cellphone at home.


“He’s just a very tender heart who’s troubled and I’m reaching out to help him,” she said.

She discovered he was missing around 3:20 p.m. when she returned home from work and the car was gone, she said. She called a crisis hot line and then spoke with police around 9:40 p.m. on Sept. 7, according to the six-page transcript.

Orion Krause had been contemplating a trip to Chicago or might have gone to see a friend in Ohio, where he had attended Oberlin College and Conservatory, she told the dispatcher.

She asked whether authorities could check the license plates that passed through tollbooths in Massachusetts and Maine to see whether her son had gone that way.

“Do you know how much relief I would have with that information?” Elizabeth Krause asked the dispatcher. “I am praying more than anything he is headed out of state to his friend’s [but you] know since he didn’t take a [damn] thing with him [except probably a wallet], I’m not sure that is what he’s done. And, I don’t know, so that is why I’m calling.”

Earlier in the day, she had visited different places looking for her son, she said, including a breakwater and the parking lot at a hospital. Orion Krause was also friends with a woman who worked at Walmart, and his mother said she wanted to check the store’s parking lot.


“I have been trying to tell myself that my kid is just going to come home, that he has been with a girl and he, he’s not thinking about what I’m thinking or feeling,” Elizabeth Krause said. “He is going to come home so I’ve had the lights on.”

Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.