The husband of a Massachusetts woman who has been missing since New Year’s Day went online to look up ways to dismember and dispose of a body, and items belonging to the woman with her DNA were found at a trash processing facility, a prosecutor said at his arraignment Wednesday on murder and other charges.
Not guilty pleas were entered on behalf of Brian Walshe, 47, and he was held without bail in Quincy District Court. Dressed in a gray sweater and beige pants, he stood expressionless as the prosecutor laid out the state’s case and did not speak except to say “I do,” when asked by the judge if he understood the charges.
His attorney, Tracy Miner, did not contest bail but in the past has said her client has cooperated with investigators.
She said in a statement that “I intend to win this case in court.”
“I am not going to comment on the evidence, first because I am going to try this case in the court and not in the media,” Miner said in a statement. “Second, because I haven’t been provided with any evidence by the prosecution. 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.”
Walshe was already in custody on $500,000 bail after pleading not guilty earlier this month to misleading investigators searching for Ana Walshe, 39, whose body has not been found.
The couple, who have three young children who are now in state custody, lived in the affluent coastal community of Cohasset, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) southeast of Boston.
Starting Jan. 1 and for several days after, Brian Walshe made multiple online searches using an iPad belonging to one of his sons using terms such as “dismemberment and best ways to dispose of a body,” “how long before a body starts to smell,” and “hacksaw best tool to dismember,” prosecutor Lynn Beland said in court.
Investigators also found Jan. 3 surveillance video of man resembling Brian Walshe throwing what appeared to be heavy trash bags into a dumpster at an apartment complex in Abington, which is not far from Cohasset.
“Surveillance shows the defendant’s Volvo, as well as a man fitting the defendant’s appearance, exit the car near the dumpster,” Beland said. “He walks to the dumpster carrying a garbage bag. He’s leaning, and it appears to be heavy, as he has to heft it into the dumpster.”
Police tried to locate those bags but they had already been taken away and incinerated, Beland said.
When police went to the family’s home Jan. 4 to perform a well-being check when it was still considered a missing person case, they noted the car had its seats folded down and a plastic liner in the back. Chemists later found the presence of blood in the car, Beland said.
During a Jan. 8 search of a trash processing facility in Peabody, north of Boston and not far from Brian Walshe’s mother’s home, investigators found trash bags that contained a hatchet, a hacksaw, towels and a protective Tyvek suit, cleaning agents, a Prada purse, boots similar to the ones Ana Walshe was last seen wearing, and a COVID-19 vaccination card with her name, Beland said.
Some items had what appeared to human blood on them and testing determined that both Ana and Brian Walshe were “contributors” to the DNA on them, she said.
Ana Walshe was reportedly last seen leaving their home in the early morning hours of Jan. 1, purportedly to take a ride-hailing vehicle to Logan International Airport for a flight to Washington, authorities said. But police have found no indication that she either took a vehicle or boarded any flight out of Logan.
She was reported missing Jan. 4 by her employer in Washington, where the couple has a home and to which she often commutes during the week for work at a real estate company, authorities said.
Authorities have searched the family’s home, a wooded area near the home, the trash processing facility in Peabody north of Boston, and a condo complex where Brian Walshe’s mother lives. Authorities previously said knives and blood were found in the family home’s basement.
Authorities have also previously said Brian Walshe was spotted on surveillance video buying hundreds of dollars worth of cleaning supplies at a home improvement store.
Brian Walshe had been on home confinement with some exceptions while awaiting sentencing in a fraud case involving the sale of fake Andy Warhol paintings, according to federal court records. Police have said Ana Walshe’s disappearance and her husband’s case appear to be unrelated.
The mother of Ana Walshe, who is originally from Serbia, told Belgrade’s Kurir daily prior to Wednesday’s arraignment that she does not believe her son-in-law harmed her daughter.
“My son-in-law would not do anything to harm my Ana, and I do not believe any of the statements that have so far been related to the possibility that Brian harmed her,” Milanka Ljubičić said.
“He assured me that Ana is fine and alive and I believe him. I am shocked by the new details that she was allegedly killed because I still hope that she is alive and well.”
Story by Mark Pratt