Brian Walshe, the 47-year-old Massachusetts man charged with murder in connection with the disappearance of his 39-year-old wife, Ana Walshe, appeared in court on Wednesday for his arraignment.
Walshe pleaded not guilty in Quincy District Court and was ordered held without bail. His next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 9.
Here’s everything we know about the case
Ana Walshe was reported missing by her employer, Washington, D.C.-based real estate company Tishman Speyer, on Jan. 4 when she didn’t show up to work.
Brian Walshe told police he hadn’t seen Ana since the early morning of Jan. 1, when she allegedly left their home in Cohasset, Mass., about 20 miles southeast of Boston, in a ride-sharing vehicle to go to Logan International Airport for a flight to D.C.
The couple also has a home in Washington, and the mother of three often commutes there from Massachusetts during the week for work.
But investigators found no indication that she took the ride or boarded the flight. There has been no activity on her credit or debit cards, per the Associated Press. And prosecutors said Wednesday that Ana’s phone was “in the area of the Cohasset house” on New Year’s Eve until 3:14 a.m. on Jan. 2, when it was turned off.
$450 in cleaning supplies
Last week Brian Walshe was charged with misleading investigators after surveillance footage showed him buying $450 worth of cleaning supplies at a Home Depot on Jan. 2, the day after his wife was last seen.
Walshe did not tell police he had been to the home improvement store, where he bought mops, buckets, tarps, tape and other items, prosecutors said. He did tell police he had been to a supermarket and a pharmacy, but there was no evidence he had been to either store.
Security footage later obtained by CBS Boston appeared to show Brian Walsh inside a juice bar in Norwell, Mass., on the same day.
Police also found a broken knife and blood in the basement of the couple’s Cohasset home.
According to Boston’s WFXT-TV, a hacksaw and a blood-covered rug were found at a transfer station in Peabody, Mass., about 20 miles from their home.
Brian Walshe was arrested on Jan. 8 and was being held on $500,000 bond on the charge of misleading investigators in Ana Walshe’s disappearance before he was charged with her murder on Tuesday.
‘How long before a body starts to smell?’
In court Wednesday, prosecutor Lynn Beland said investigators believe Brian Walshe dismembered his wife and disposed of her remains after using their son’s iPad to Google the best ways to get rid of a body, among other incriminating internet searches.
Included among them:
“How long before a body starts to smell?”
“How to stop a body from decomposing”
“How to embalm a body”
“10 ways to dispose of a dead body if you really need to”
“How long for someone to be missing to inherit”
“What does formaldehyde do?”
“How long does DNA last?”
“Can identification be made on partial remains”
"The best ways to dispose of a body”
“How to clean blood from wooden floor”
“What happens when you put body parts in ammonia?”
“Hacksaw best tool to dismember”
“Can you be charged with murder without a body?”
Beland also said investigators discovered 10 trash bags filled with items including towels, rags, tape, gloves, cleaning agents, Ana Walshe’s COVID-19 vaccination card, a hacksaw and a hatchet. Some of the items included stains consistent with blood, she said.
DNA evidence linked to Ana Walsh was found on a pair of slippers, clothes and a Tyvek disposable suit, Beland told the court.
Prosecutors have not publicly identified a motive for the alleged killing. But on Dec. 27, Beland said, there was another internet search query that drew the interest of investigators: “What’s the best state to divorce?”
Separate fraud case
According to federal court records obtained by CNN, Brian Walshe had been on home confinement while awaiting sentencing in a federal fraud case involving the sale of fake Andy Warhol paintings at the time of Ana Walshe’s disappearance. But police have said Ana’s disappearance and her husband’s fraud case appear to be unrelated.
What about the kids?
Brian and Ana Walshe have three sons between the ages of 2 and 6. Two of Ana’s friends, Natasha Sky and Pamela Bardhi, told WFXT-TV that they are worried the boys could be placed in foster care and are pleading with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families to allow them to take custody of the children.
“Our focus right now is the children,” Sky said. “If the children can stay together, that is what we are putting our energy into.”
Defense attorney speaks
Brian Walshe remained mostly silent during Wednesday’s arraignment, shaking his head as his alleged internet searches were read aloud in court. His attorney, Tracy Miner, released a statement blasting what she called “leaks” from the prosecution ahead of his appearance in court.
“In my experience, where, as here, the prosecution leaks so-called evidence to the press before they provide it to me, their case isn’t that strong,” Miner said in the statement. “It is easy to charge a crime and even easier to say a person committed that crime. It is a much more difficult thing to prove it, which we will see if the prosecution can do.”
‘Missing white woman syndrome’
The case has garnered national media attention — reviving criticism from those who say similar cases involving missing people of color receive far less coverage.
“How newsworthy are you?” Joan Vennochi asked in an op-ed for the Boston Globe. “As the blanket media coverage about the disappearance of Ana Walshe, a 39-year-old Cohasset mother of three, illustrates yet again — if you are young, white, and pretty, and live in a place where horrific crime is not supposed to take place, you are very newsworthy.”
“Missing white woman syndrome,” as critics call it, was on full display during the 2021 search for Gabby Petito, a 22-year-old white woman whose body was later found near Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park after her 23-year-old fiancé, Brian Laundrie, returned home from a cross-country road trip without her.
Laundrie, the only suspect in her disappearance, fled his parents’ home in North Port, Fla., and his remains were found weeks later in a nearby nature reserve.