Police are investigating in the small coastal town of Cohasset, Massachusetts The disappearance of a woman Internet records of her husband’s searches showed how to dismember a body, sources tell CNN, and prosecutors say blood and a bloody knife were found in the couple’s basement.
After Anna Walsh, a 39-year-old mother of three, was reported missing by her co-workers on Jan. 4, police began questioning her husband, Brian Walsh, 47. The police claimed in an affidavit, however, that the disappearance was “untrue”.
Brian Walsh is criminally charged with misleading investigators in the case while the police continue their search for his wife. Walsh — who is already awaiting sentencing on a previous federal fraud conviction — has pleaded not guilty.
Investigators recently uncovered new information that has shifted their focus from searching for missing persons to suspicions about Anna Walsh’s murder, including her husband’s online log showing searches for dismemberment and “how to dispose of a 115-pound woman’s body,” according to two police officers. Law enforcement sources briefed on the investigation.
“We are devastated. Anna is a beacon of love and joy,” said family friend Peter Kirby 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.
Detectives launched a massive search for Anna Walsh, authorities said, calling in local and state police departments, K-9 units, police divers and state police air units and clearing the wooded area surrounding the family home.
The ground search was called off after two days, officials said Saturdaybut will resume if new information appears.
On Monday night, investigators were searching in the trash of a Peabody moving station for possible remains of the missing mother, a source familiar with the direct investigation said.
Sanitation crews took the trash to the station, about an hour’s drive north of Cohasset, early last week, the source said.
Crime scene tape was also placed around dumpsters at an apartment complex near Brian Walsh’s mother’s home in Swampscott, about 15 miles north of Boston, the source told CNN. Brian Walsh told police he went to visit his mother on January 1, the same day he told police he last saw his wife, according to the affidavit.
Prosecutors said it was Anna Walsh’s colleagues at real estate company Tishman Speyer who reported her missing. Although Brian Walsh’s attorney says he reached out to her office to say he had not heard from her.
Brian Walsh told police he last saw his wife on the morning of January 1. She told him she needed to travel to Washington, D.C., for a work emergency, the husband told investigators, according to the affidavit.
“Anna warmed up and kissed him goodbye and told him to go back to sleep,” Walsh said, according to the affidavit.
He told investigators that she usually took a taxi or taxi to the airport.
That afternoon, Brian Walsh said he visited his mother in Swampscott and ran errands for her at Whole Foods and the local CVS, according to the affidavit.
Prosecutors said in court on Monday that investigators found no evidence that Anna Walsh took a ride from her home that morning. Her phone also rang near the house on January 1 and 2, according to Commonwealth Attorney General Lynne Byland.
The affidavit stated that “the fact that he was asked a specific question and that he gave an incorrect answer sent detectives out of the area, resulting in apparent delays in the search for the missing person, Anna Walsh.”
According to police, Brian Walsh is under home confinement conditions and wearing an ankle bracelet while he awaits sentencing on his previous fraud conviction, which means he must be given permission to leave his home to carry out approved activities at specific locations and times.
He took several unapproved trips in the week of his wife’s disappearance, according to the affidavit, including to a Home Depot where he was seen on surveillance video wearing a surgical mask and surgical gloves and making a cash purchase. In court on Monday, prosecutors alleged he spent about $450 on cleaning supplies, including a mop, bucket and cloths.
As police executed a search warrant on the couple’s home on Sunday, “blood was found in the basement as well as (a) knife that also contained some blood,” according to Biland.
The warrant was obtained based on the pair’s Internet search history about body disposal and its purchase of large cleaning supplies, two law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation told CNN.
In charging him for misleading investigators Monday, a Quincy County Court judge set Walsh’s bail at $500,000 in cash. His next hearing has been set for February 9.
Brian Walsh 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 US District Court of Massachusetts.
FBI investigators claim Brian or Anna used her eBay account to sell the paintings in November 2016, less than a year after they got married.
The complaint does not accuse Anna of wrongdoing, but states that she spoke to the person who purchased the counterfeit products after the buyer learned the paintings were not original and specified her work number.
Public Prosecution as well alleged Brian Walsh took real artwork from a friend, told her he was going to sell it, but he never did. Prosecutors allege he did not pay the friend for the art.
He was indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2018 on four counts in the case, including wire fraud, interstate transportation of a fraudulent scheme, possession of diverted goods and illegal cash transactions.
The documents showed he pleaded guilty last year to three of the four counts in return for a prosecutors-recommended sentence of jail time, supervised release, fines, compensation and forfeiture. He also agreed to return the artwork or pay for it.
According to the electronic schedule, the case is still open because the judge has not formally ruled on him, while the US Attorney’s Office is investigating Brian Walsh’s finances.