In the small coastal town of Cohasset, Massachusetts, police are investigating the disappearance of a woman whose husband’s Internet records showed her body was dismembered, sources tell CNN, and prosecutors say blood and a bloody knife were found in the couple’s basement.
After Ana Walshe, a 39-year-old mother of three, was reported missing by her co-workers on January 4, police began questioning her husband, Brian Walshe, 47. Many of his statements about his activities and whereabouts while his wife. Police insist the disappearance was “untruthful”.
Brian Walshe is accused of misleading investigators as police continue to search for his wife. Walshe – who is already awaiting sentencing on a previous federal fraud charge – has pleaded not guilty.
Investigators recently uncovered new information that shifted their focus from the missing persons search to suspicions of Ana Walsh’s slaying, including her husband’s Internet records that showed searches for cremation and “how to dispose of the body of a 115-pound woman,” according to the two. law enforcement sources reported on the investigation.
“We are devastated. Ana is such a beacon of love and joy,” family friend Peter Kirby said in a statement to CNN. “She lights up every room. We miss her and do everything we can to support her three beautiful children.”
Here’s what we know about the case.
Authorities said investigators began an extensive search for Ana Walshe, calling in local and state police departments, K-9 units, police divers and state police aerial units and scouring the wooded area surrounding the family’s home.
The ground search was called off after two days, authorities said Saturday, but would be resumed if new information emerged.
According to a source with direct knowledge of the investigation, on Monday evening, investigators searched through the debris of the transfer station in the city of Peabody for the remains of the missing mother.
Sanitation crews brought the debris to the station, about an hour’s drive north of Cohasset, early last week, the source said.
Crime scene tape was also placed around trash cans at an apartment complex near Brian Walshe’s mother’s home in Swampscott, about 15 miles north of Boston, a source told CNN. Brian Walshe told police he went to see his mother on Jan. 1, the same day he told police he last saw his wife, according to the affidavit.
Prosecutors said Ana Walshe’s co-workers at real estate firm Tishman Speyer reported her missing. Although Brian Walshe’s attorney says he had contacted his office to say he hadn’t heard from him.
Brian Walshe told police he last saw his wife on the morning of January 1. He told her he had to fly to Washington, D.C., for a work emergency, the husband told investigators, according to the affidavit.
Walshe said, “Ana got ready and kissed him goodbye and told him to go back to sleep,” the affidavit says.
He told the investigators typically in a ride or taxi to the airport.
That afternoon, Brian Walshe said he was visiting his mother in Swampscott and ran errands for her at the local Whole Foods and CVS.
Prosecutors said in court Monday, but investigators found no evidence that Ana Walshe took the ride from their house that morning. According to Commonwealth’s Attorney Lynn Beland, her phone also rang near home on Jan. 1 and Jan. 2.
“The fact that she was asked a specific question and gave a false answer that led investigators away from the area clearly delayed the search for missing person Ana Walshe,” the affidavit states.
Brian Walshe is under house arrest and wearing an ankle bracelet while awaiting sentencing on a previous fraud charge, which means he must get permission to leave his house for approved activities at certain places and times, according to police.
He made several unauthorized trips during the week of his wife’s disappearance, according to the affidavit, including to Home Depot, where he was seen on surveillance video wearing a surgical mask and surgical gloves and buying cash. In court Monday, prosecutors alleged she spent about $450 on cleaning supplies, including mops, a bucket and tarps.
When police executed a search warrant at the couple’s home on Sunday, “blood was found in the basement area along with (a) knife that also contained blood,” according to Beland.
The warrant was obtained based on the husband’s Internet search history about body disposal and his large purchases of cleaning supplies, two law enforcement sources briefed on the investigation told CNN.
On Monday, a Quincy District Court judge set Walshe’s bail at $500,000 cash for his charge of misleading investigators. His next hearing is on February 9.
Brian Walshe was charged with wire fraud in May 2018 after the FBI said he sold two fake Andy Warhol paintings on eBay, according to a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
FBI investigators allege that Brian or Ana used their eBay account to sell the paintings in November 2016, less than a year after their marriage.
The complaint doesn’t accuse Ana of wrongdoing, but claims she spoke with the person who bought the fakes after the buyer learned the paintings weren’t genuine and found her job number.
Prosecutors also alleged that Brian Walshe took real art from a friend and told him he would sell it, but never did. He didn’t pay the friend for the art, prosecutors allege.
He was indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2018 on four counts, including bank fraud, interstate transportation for a scheme to defraud, possession of altered merchandise and illegal money transactions.
Last year, he pleaded guilty to three of the four charges in exchange for prosecutors’ recommended sentence of imprisonment, supervised release, fines, restitution and forfeiture, records show. He also agreed to either return the artworks or pay for them.
According to the online publication, the case remains open because a judge has not formally sentenced him while the U.S. Attorney’s Office investigates Brian Walshe’s finances.