81-Year-Old Man Charged With Killing His Wife and Daughter with Axe

Reginald MacLaren was formally charged in the murders.

An 81-year-old Colorado man has confessed to killings of his 70-year-old Bethany MacLaren wife and 35-year-old daughter Ruth Jennifer MacLaren with an axe and dismembering their bodies. Reginald MacLaren has been formally charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of tampering with a body and one charge of false reporting. The suspect was "cooperative" during the investigation, according to police and is currently being held at the Arapahoe County Jail.

Maclaren Called Police

9News

According to a press release from the  Englewood Police Department, on March 25, 2023, at approximately 6:03 p.m., police received a call from the alleged suspect "who stated that his wife and adult daughter had been murdered. He stated that he believed he knew the suspect and that the suspect had used a hammer."

The Victims Were Dismembered and Placed in Trash Cans

9News

After police arrived, they located the bodies of the victims. The press release stated, "Officers then entered the residence and found two victims inside large trash cans that were on the floor of the living room kitchen area. Both victims had substantial injuries and showed no signs of life." The statement continued, "Englewood Detectives, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation Crime Scene Unit and the Arapahoe County Coroner's Office all responded to conduct a homicide investigation. During the course of this investigation, it was determined that the victims were both killed with an axe, then one victim was dismembered with a saw. 

MacLaren Was Arrested and Confessed Telling Police He Didn't Want His Family to Be Homeless

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According to police, "Detectives established probable cause to arrest MacLaren for the murders." He later confessed and said he recently lost his job, didn't have enough money to pay rent and didn't want his family to be homeless.  Englewood Police Division Chief, Tracy Jones said in a press conference. "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 added that due to the violent nature of the crime, authorities who went to the crime scene have been offered mental health support. 

MacLaren Planned the Murders and Has No Regrets, According to Police

Pool via KMGH

In an arrest affidavit obtained by 9News, the suspect told police he planned the murders. The outlet reports, "He told investigators he had no money left to pay rent and began planning to kill his family. He described striking his wife and daughter in their heads with an axe as they sat on the couch Saturday morning." Both women were unconscious when he hit them two more times before placing them in trash cans. "He said he was unable to lift the cans to move them outside the apartment, according to the affidavit." He also told police that he "does not regret" killing his family because he "knows they are in a better place," the affidavit says. He said he knew "what a miserable life that was" and didn't want his family to go through that, the affidavit says.

The Local Nepali Community is Trying to Help Find Relatives

9News

The women weren't well known in the local Nepali community, but a vigil was held in their honor and people are still trying to help where they can. We heard about this tragedy, we were really trying to find out – who [she is], from what community does she belong," said Sangeeta Shrotriya, one of the people working with authorities to help track down information about the victims. "I think it's more about the feeling, that the community is there for each other in this time of tragic situation." The Colorado-based Nepali believe Bethany (Pavrita) was actually from India, with some Nepali descendants, and that the two victims didn't have family locally.  "We didn't know them, but they were part of us. They're members of our community," said Anne Hines, the founder and executive director of Colorado Nepal Alliance, during the vigil. "Pavitra and Ruth, you are not forgotten. We hope your souls have easy passage… We hope we're soon able to find the rest of your family … No one deserves to go to their grave without their family knowing of their fate. Thank you so much for shining your light on this earth while you were here. We will always remember you."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more
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