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Missing Massachusetts woman's husband searched for '10 ways to dispose of a dead body,' prosecutors say

Prosecutors unveiled their evidence against Brian Walshe in Quincy District Court after issuing a murder warrant Tuesday in the alleged death of his wife, Ana Walshe.

The husband of a Massachusetts woman who disappeared around New Year's Day dismembered and discarded her remains and made more than a dozen disturbing Google searches — including "10 ways to dispose of a dead body if you really need to" and "how to stop a body from decomposing" — in the minutes before he originally told police he last saw his wife, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Prosecutors presented their evidence against Brian Walshe, 47, in Quincy District Court after issuing a murder warrant Tuesday in the alleged death of his wife, Ana Walshe, 39.

They said that Brian Walshe made an internet search Dec. 27 for "what’s the best state to divorce for a man" — and that "rather than divorce, it is believed that Brian Walshe dismembered Ana Walshe and discarded her body,” Norfolk County Assistant District Attorney Lynn Beland said.

Along with being accused of assaulting and beating his wife with the intent to murder her, Brian Walshe is charged with moving her body or remains, according to the criminal complaint. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The disappearance of Ana Walshe

Beland said investigators found the couple's DNA, along with a Covid vaccination card for Ana Walshe and a hacksaw, cutting shears and a hatchet in trash bags that had been disposed of in a dumpster at Brian Walshe's mother's apartment complex in Swampscott, about 40 miles north of Cohasset, where they lived.

Disturbing internet searches

Evidence prosecutors presented in court offered disturbing new details about Brian Walshe's actions in the hours before and after he previously claimed he last saw his wife.

In the early morning hours of Jan. 1, in the hour before he originally told investigators that his wife had left their home to catch a flight to Washington, D.C., he made the following Google searches on his son's iPad: "how long before a body starts to smell," "how to stop a body from decomposing," "how to bound a body," "10 ways to dispose of a dead body if you really need to," "how long for someone to be missing to inherit," and "can you throw away body parts?"

Brian Walshe shook his head in court as Beland read the alleged search for "how to bound a body."

Ana Walshe.
Ana Walshe.via NBC Boston

Later that morning, Brian Walshe's Google searches included: "how long does DNA last," "can identification be made on partial remains," "dismemberment and the best ways to dispose of a body," "how to clean blood from wooden floor," "what happens when you put body parts in ammonia," and "is it better to throw crime scene clothes away or wash them?"

On Jan. 2, Walshe’s internet searches included “hacksaw best tool to dismember,” “can you be charged with murder without a body” and “can you identify a body with broken teeth,” prosecutors said.

That same day, he purchased three rugs at a HomeGoods store in Norwell. He also bought cleaning products, mops, brushes, tape, tarp, a Tyvek suit with boot covers, buckets, goggles, baking soda and a hatchet at a Home Depot store in Rockland, prosecutors said. He then removed the gloves and mask at the Derby Street Shops, an outdoor shopping center in Hingham, just after 5:30 p.m., they said.

Blood, weapons, DNA found in dumpster

On Jan. 3, surveillance video captured Walshe traveling to a dumpster in Abington, a town about 15 miles southwest of Cohasset, where he was seen carrying and discarding items that appeared to be heavy. He then traveled to an apartment complex in Abington and another in Brockton, about 4 miles west of Abington, where he discarded more items.

Police later tried to track down the bags he was seen putting in the first dumpster in Abington, but they had already been destroyed after having been picked up and transported for shredding and incineration, prosecutors said in court.

Brian Walshe also conducted more Google searches that day, including: "what happens to hair on dead body," "what is the rate of decomposition of a body found in a plastic bag compared to on a surface in the woods" and "can baking soda make a body smell good?"

On Jan. 4, the day Ana Walshe's employer reported her missing and police interviewed Brian Walshe at his home, he bought towels, bathmats, men's clothing, squeegees and a trash can at HomeGoods, T.J. Maxx and Lowe's, prosecutors said.

When authorities arrived at the house, they saw Brian Walshe's Volvo had a plastic liner and the seats were down; a few days later, the liner was gone and there were fresh vacuum streaks on the carpet, prosecutors said. An analysis later showed blood in the car.

On Jan. 5, the day the search for Ana Walshe became public, Brian Walshe's phone records show he traveled first to a day care center and then to his mother's apartment complex in Swampscott. Surveillance video captured him in an area of the complex where a dumpster was located.

Authorities later searched the contents of the dumpster after they had been moved to a waste transfer station in Peabody, a town about 5 miles north, and found 10 trash bags that included stains consistent with blood, towels, tape, slippers, a Tyvek suit, rugs, gloves, cleaning agents, carpets, a Covid vaccination card for Ana Walshe, a hacksaw, cutting shears, a hatchet, clothing and a Prada purse that Brian Walshe had told investigators his wife was last seen with.

The couple's DNA was identified on the slippers and the Tyvek suit found in the trash bags,.

On Jan. 8, prosecutors searched the family's home and found blood in the basement, a damaged knife with blood on it, another knife, a heavy-duty large tarp and plastic liners. Police arrested Brian Walshe the same day.

There has not been any activity on Ana Walshe's credit cards since she was last seen, but phone records indicate that it was at the family’s home on New Year’s Eve until 3:14 a.m. Jan. 2, at which point it was turned off, prosecutors said.

The probable cause affidavit and arrest warrant, which would typically include the above details, are impounded until March 10, according to a court order. Impoundment prevents the public, but not the parties, from gaining access to the records.

No emotion in court

Brian Walshe entered the courtroom Wednesday just before 9:20 a.m., wearing a gray shirt and in handcuffs and standing behind a glass partition. Throughout the preceding, he looked around the room but showed little to no emotion. 

He only spoke once when Judge Mark Coven asked him whether he understood the charges. "I do," Walshe replied.

Brian Walshe
Brian Walshe faces a Quincy Court judge Jan. 9.Greg Derr / Pool via AP

In a lengthy statement, Brian Walshe's lawyer, Tracy Miner, claimed the media "has already tried and convicted Mr. Walshe."

"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. 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. Second, because I haven’t been provided with any evidence by the prosecution," Miner said.

Miner asked the court that Brian Walshe be released from custody — where he has been since his Jan. 8 arrest on the charge of misleading an investigation — which the judge denied.

Brian Walshe is being held without bail pending indictment. A status hearing in the case will be held via Zoom on Feb. 9.

'She will be greatly missed'

In a statement provided to NBC News, Rob Speyer, CEO of Tishman Speyer, the real estate company where Ana Walshe was employed as a regional general manager, said: "Ana’s vivacious energy and warmth made her a true friend to so many at Tishman Speyer and in the broader Boston and D.C. communities."

“All of us at Tishman Speyer are devastated by the tragic and untimely passing of our beloved colleague, Ana Walshe," he continued. "We extend our deepest sympathies to all who knew and loved her, especially her three young boys, her mother and her sister. She will be greatly missed.”

Ana Walshe’s remains have not been found.

Ana Walshe often traveled to Washington for work, and had a flight booked for Jan. 3, which she never took, authorities said. Her Instagram account shows the time she spent in Washington with colleagues, as well as moments captured with her three young sons.

The boys — ages 2, 4 and 6 — are in state custody, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families previously told NBC News.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence or the threat of domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or go to www.thehotline.org for anonymous, confidential online chats, available in English and Spanish. Individual states often have their own domestic violence hotlines as well.

Advocates at the National Domestic Violence Hotline field calls from both survivors of domestic violence, as well as individuals who are concerned that they may be abusive toward their partners.