ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) — There was a reason 35-year-old Ruth Maclaren couldn’t escape when police say her father attacked her mother, and then her, with an ax.
An autopsy report obtained by the Problem Solvers confirms Ruth Maclaren had cerebral palsy, a developmental disability that can weaken muscles and cause partial paralysis.
Arapahoe County prosecutors have charged 81-year-old Reginald Maclaren with first-degree murder in the March 25 homicides of his 70-year-old wife, Bethany, and disabled daughter.
The autopsy report helps explain why the woman did not run out of her Englewood home the moment her father started swinging an ax at his wife before attacking his daughter.
According to medical records, Ruth Maclaren had a history of cerebral palsy that included a “large left cerebral hemisphere porencephalic cyst, chronic weakness of her right upper extremity and epilepsy.”
Police find ax, body parts in trash cans
An arrest affidavit revealed Reginald Maclaren called 911 at around 6 p.m. that day, saying that his wife and daughter were dead and he thought they were murdered with a hammer.
When Englewood Police officers arrived at his home, they immediately saw human blood dripping from a trash can. They also soon discovered body parts in two black, roll-away trash cans lying on their sides on the living room floor.
Officers found “a large ax in the closet and a Stanley brand hand saw near the garbage cans.”
Reginald Maclaren was taken to Swedish Medical Center. Three hours later, in an interview with detectives, he admitted to striking his wife in the head with an ax while she was sitting on a couch around 11 a.m. that day.
He then told detectives he struck his daughter in the head with an ax, knocking her unconscious.
He then said he struck his wife and daughter in the head twice more each before using a saw to sever their arms and legs, because he knew their bodies wouldn’t otherwise fit in the two new trash cans he had recently purchased.
According to the affidavit, Reginald Maclaren said he had been recently terminated from his job, had no money and was worried his family would soon be homeless because he could not pay the rent.
He told detectives he began planning the murder 10 days earlier and did not regret killing his family, as he “knows they are in a better place.”
Maclaren is being held without bond. He’s due back in court on July 19 for a preliminary hearing.
His public defender has so far not filed a motion seeking a competency hearing to determine if he knew right from wrong when he admitted killing his wife and daughter.
The autopsy report stated Ruth Maclaren died of 23 chop wounds, and her mother Bethany died from six chop wounds.