A Rockport man has pleaded guilty to murdering four people in Massachusetts in 2017.

Orion Krause, 26, of Rockport pleaded guilty in Lowell Superior Court on Wednesday to four charges of second-degree murder in connection with the slaying of his mother, Elizabeth Lackey Krause, 60; his grandparents, Frank Darby Lackey III, 89, and Elizabeth Lackey, 85; and their home health care worker, Bertha Mae Parker, 68, in Groton, Mass.

Orion Krause appears in Ayer District Court in Massachusetts in September 2017. The Boston Globe via Associated Press/Josh Reynolds

Judge Kenneth W. Salinger sentenced Krause to life in prison with parole eligibility at 25 years.

“The resolution of this case today in no way can erase the incalculable loss felt by the family and friends of these victims,” said Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan in a news release. “Following the 2017 murder, the entire Groton community mourned the loss of Elizabeth and Frank Lackey, Elizabeth Krause and Bertha Mae Parker. We continue to have them in our thoughts today as this case comes to a close.”

According to the District Attorney’s Office, Krause traveled from Rockport to the Boston area on Sept. 7, 2017. The following day he and his mother traveled together to visit his grandparents, the Lackeys, at their home on Common Street in Groton.

At some point following his arrival at the home, Krause attacked his family and his grandparents’ health aid, Parker, using a baseball bat. Krause then fled the home and was located by police at a neighbor’s home, where he was arrested.

A gifted musician, Krause was just 22 years old at the time and had recently graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio. Friends and family who expressed shock and surprise at the killings described him as sweet and mild-mannered.

In 2018, Krause’s attorney, Edward Wayland, said he was considering mounting an insanity defense and said mental illness may have played a role in the killings. A message left at Wayland’s office was not returned Wednesday night.

The Boston Globe reported at the time that prior to the deaths, Krause had twice told a former music professor at Oberlin College that he intended to kill his mother, a threat Maine authorities passed on to Groton police on Sept. 8, 2017. He called the professor shortly before the killings and told him, “I think I have to kill my mom,” according to documents filed in court. However, the Groton department was alerted about 45 minutes after Krause killed the four people.

The bodies of the elderly couple and Krause’s mother were found in the kitchen of their Groton home and in an adjacent room. Head wounds suffered by Krause’s mother and grandparents were “horrific, to put it mildly,” a prosecutor for the District Attorney’s Office said at Krause’s arraignment in 2018.

Parker was apparently the last to die and had escaped from the house and was running away when Krause allegedly caught up and attacked her from behind. Her body was found in a flower bed outside the home.

Court documents say Krause then showed up at a neighbor’s house, naked and covered in mud, and confessed to the four murders. The neighbor offered police a sheet, which they wrapped around Krause. He then sat down in a patio chair, began singing, and said, “I freed them.”

Krause’s mother, Elizabeth ‘Buffy’ Krause, was the daughter of a philanthropic Massachusetts family involved for many years with the Chewonki Foundation, the Maine-based environmental nonprofit, among other community organizations.

Elizabeth Krause met Orion’s father, Alexander ‘Lexi’ Krause, in the early 90’s and the couple raised Orion and another son, Cooper, who is Orion’s twin, on Monhegan Island and later in the midcoast town of Rockport. Attempts to reach Alexander and Cooper Krause were unsuccessful Wednesday.

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