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Double murder suspect, 81, pleads not guilty to all charges after wife, daughter found dead in Englewood

reginald maclaren double homicide case englewood
Posted at 3:25 PM, Jan 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-23 17:25:26-05

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — An 81-year-old Englewood man accused of killing and dismembering his wife and daughter in March 2023 has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges filed against him.

Reginald L. MacLaren was arrested on March 25, 2023 on a charge of first-degree murder. He was formally charged on April 3 with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of tampering with a deceased human body and false reporting to authorities.

On Tuesday morning, he pleaded not guilty to the charges in Arapahoe County court. A jury trial was set to begin at the start of the summer, with jury selection on June 21, 2024. It is expected to last six days.

According to an arrest affidavit, around 6 p.m. on March 25, 2023, Reginald MacLaren called police and said he thought his wife and daughter had been murdered by somebody with a hammer. He identified the victims as his wife, Bethany MacLaren, 70, and his daughter, Ruth Jennifer MacLaren, 35, and told police that both were in the apartment's living room.

Police arrived at the complex, which was along the 900 block of Englewood Parkway, and began to walk around the apartment. They saw suspected blood dripping from the top of a kitchen trash can and what appeared to be human hair coming out of the top. The officers also saw two large rollaway black trash cans on their sides in the living room, according to the affidavit, and the officers found one body in each of those trash cans. The cans appeared to be new, as they did not have scuffing on the wheels.

Englewood man, 81, in custody after police find bodies of wife, daughter in trash cans

When detectives arrived, they saw the two bodies in the trash cans and found a large axe in a closet and a handsaw near the trash cans, according to the affidavit. They noted the large amount of blood in the apartment.

MacLaren spoke with detectives and said he had been employed at Hospital Shared Services, but recently was terminated and didn't have any money left. He regularly interacted with people experiencing homelessness and told police that he "knew what a miserable life that was," according to the affidavit. About 10 days prior, he began a plan to kill his family "so they would not be homeless," he said. He purchased an axe, the two trash cans and a hand saw and stored the items in his apartment.

According to the affidavit, he told police he knew his family would have to leave the apartment on March 25 because he didn't have rent money.

That morning, as his wife and daughter were sitting on the couch, he struck them in the head with an axe, the affidavit reads. He said their bodies wouldn't fit in the trash cans, so he used a saw to remove their arms and legs. The cans were too heavy and he could not move them, he said, according to the affidavit.

reginald maclaren double homicide case englewood

Local News

Affidavit: CO 81-year-old said he killed wife, daughter to avoid homelessness

Stephanie Butzer
8:23 AM, Mar 29, 2023

The document reads that Reginald MacLaren told police "he does not regret killing his family as he 'knows they are in a better place.'"

While MacLaren was "more than cooperative" during the investigation, the apartment was one of the most gruesome crime scenes detectives had investigated, Englewood Police Division Chief Tracy Jones said a few days after the homicide.

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