The search for a missing Massachusetts mother led to the discovery of blood, as well as a damaged knife with blood on it, inside her home’s basement, a prosecutor said Monday after the woman’s husband was arrested for allegedly misleading a police investigation.
Brian Walshe, 46, was ordered held on $500,000 cash bail by a judge Monday after authorities accused him of being “untruthful” and hindering the search for his wife, 39-year-old Ana Walshe of Cohasset, who was reported missing on Jan. 4.
The father of three has given conflicting statements to police about his whereabouts and on Jan. 2, one day after he told investigators he last saw her at their home, was seen purchasing $450 worth of cleaning supplies. A later search of the home by crime scene services found blood and the knife in the basement, Norfolk First Assistant District Attorney Lynn M. Beland told a Quincy District Court judge during his arraignment Monday.
“These various statements caused a delay in the investigation,” said Beland, who alleged that this afforded Brian Walshe time to “either clean up evidence (or) dispose of evidence.”
Brian Walshe pleaded not guilty at his arraignment and his defense team told the judge that he has been “incredibly cooperative” with law enforcement and that he has consented to searches of his home and to police interviews.
Ana Walshe was reported missing on Jan. 4 by both her husband and her employer in Washington, D.C., where she has a second office and apartment, after she failed to report to work that day, police said.
Brian Walshe told investigators that he last saw his wife around 6 a.m. on Jan. 1 as she left to fly to Washington because of a work emergency. He said she used a ride-hailing service to get to the airport and that he was still in bed when she left, police said.
There’s no evidence that she used a ride-hailing service that morning, however, and investigators discovered that she had a plane ticket to Washington for Jan. 3 that she did not use. Her cell phone also pinged from her Cohasset house’s location on Jan. 1 and Jan. 2, Beland told the judge.
Brian Walshe told investigators that after his wife left on Jan. 1, he had a babysitter watch his children while he went to his mother’s house in Swampscott, which is about 32 miles north of Cohasset, according to a copy of the police affidavit.
The drive should have taken him about an hour, he said, but he forgot his cell phone and without GPS he got lost, adding roughly 30 minutes to his trip. After seeing his mother, he said he ran errands for her at a nearby Whole Foods and CVS, though surveillance footage does not corroborate that he visited either store. Receipts for purchases at both stores have also not been found, said Beland.
The following day he was seen at a Home Depot store, where surveillance captured him purchasing mops, buckets, tape, drop cloths, and other cleaning equipment, said Beland. He wore a surgical mask and gloves throughout his purchase, which he made in cash, according to the affidavit.
Brian Walshe was on a pre-sentencing probation at the time of his wife’s disappearance after being convicted in federal court of wire fraud. This meant that he could only leave his home at preapproved times, police said in the arrest affidavit. The federal charges are related to 2018 allegations that he sold fake Andy Warhol paintings on eBay, WCVB in Boston reported.
He was approved travel time on Sunday to care for his mother, but cell phone evidence showing his later travel to the areas of Brockton and Abington ― roughly 20 miles southwest of Cohasset ― were not approved, which authorities noted may be a probation violation, according to the affidavit.
Police stressed that the inconsistencies about his locations delayed their investigation and risked the deterioration of evidence, including surveillance footage, since video tapes can be recorded over with time.
“The fact that he was asked a specific question and he gave an untruthful answer that led investigators out of the area caused a clear delay in the search for the missing person, Ana Walshe,” the affidavit states. “[Brian] Walshe intentionally gave the untruthful statement knowing investigators would need to travel and corroborate such statements.”
Brian Walshe’s defense attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The missing persons case has meanwhile taken authorities to trash facilities within the area, according to local reports.
Investigators searching a trash facility in Peabody, a roughly 40-mile drive north of Cohasset, found trash bags with blood, a hatchet, a hacksaw, a rug and used cleaning supplies, CBS Boston reported citing unidentified sources.
Another search of a recycling center in Wareham on Monday, roughly 45 miles south of Cohasset, did not find anything, the station reported, while noting that the facility converts trash into electricity so anything from several days ago has likely been destroyed.
Cohasset and Massachusetts State Police detectives said Tuesday they have completed their search of the couple’s Cohasset home and that no further public updates were expected. He is due back in court on Feb. 9.