Prosecutors: Man whose wife is missing searched online how to dispose of a body, clean up blood

Ana Walshe disappeared from her Cohasset home in the first hours of the new year when the DA said her husband began scouring the internet on how to dismember a body and quickly collect an inheritance.

“Can you be charged with murder without a body?” Brian Walshe allegedly searched on Google soon after his wife disappeared and before her employer in Washington D.C. reported her missing. Police came knocking at the Walshe door Jan. 4 for a well-being check.

The grisly searches were read off by Norfolk Assistant District Attorney Lynn Beland at Brian Walshe’s arraignment Wednesday morning in Quincy District Court for the murder of Ana Walshe, 39 — the mother of the pair’s three sons — and for “dismembering” her body.

Brian Walshe, whose only spoken words at the hearing were “I do” when asked if he understood the charges against him, is being held without bail. The next scheduled court date is Feb. 9 for a status hearing to be conducted by video conferencing.

Beland said those internet searches began early in the morning of Jan. 1. That’s the day Brian told police that he had last seen his wife when they showed up at his door — only after Ana Walshe’s work reported her missing — on Jan. 4.

He told police then, according to prior police statements and Beland’s presentation at the arraignment, that she had left that morning at maybe 6 a.m. or 6:10 a.m. in an Uber or a Lyft for a flight from Logan International Airport to Reagan International Airport in D.C.

It’s a trip she often made, as she worked there as an executive for Tishman Speyer, a property development and management company, and had recently purchased a townhouse there, as the Herald has previously reported.

Ana Walshe, 39, was last seen at her Cohasset home shortly after midnight. (Courtesy / Cohasset Police Department)

But the cops found no record of her calling a rideshare or boarding a flight. And she never made the Jan. 3 flight she actually had booked in order to appear for work on Jan. 4, the day she didn’t show up and her work called the police.

In the immediate aftermath of her being reported missing, police had said that Brian Walshe had been fully cooperative. But within days, on Jan. 8, police arrested him and he was charged with misleading the investigation by lying about his whereabouts.

Those details have been reported in detail: alleged lies about running up to Swampscott to visit his mom to run some errands for her to Whole Foods and CVS and getting lost along the way. But security footage never shows him at either location.

Instead, on Jan. 2, Beland says, security footage shows him visiting the Rockland Home Depot and buying $450 worth of cleaning supplies. A Tyvek suit with boot covers, mops, buckets, goggles, baking soda, tape, a hatchet, and more — all while wearing a facemask and rubber gloves in the store.

That shopping trip followed some scary searches the day before on one of the son’s iPads that, according to the prosecutor’s telling, showed a cram study session on the art of murder, with a little monetary motivation thrown in.

The searches on the iPad allegedly started at 4:55 a.m. — an hour before Ana Walshe allegedly left for the airport — with the search “How long before a body starts to smell?”

Those were quickly followed up with, “How to stop a body from decomposing,” Beland said, and “how to embalm a body.” At that one, the wide-eyed but otherwise still face of Brian Walshe showed some emotion: incredulity, as his head began a slow shake.

Other searches followed, and Beland read them off: “10 ways to dispose of a body if you really need to.” “Can you throw away body parts?” “What does formaldehyde do?”

“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?” “Luminol to detect blood?” “What happens when you put body parts in ammonia?” “Is it better to throw crime scene clothes away or wash them?”

Among all those, early on, at 6:25 a.m., Brian Walshe allegedly searches, “How long for someone to be missing to inherit?” It seemed the sequel to a search Brian Walshe conducted days before Ana Walshe disappeared, on Dec. 27, Beland said, for “What’s the best state to divorce for a man?”

“Rather than divorce, it is believed that Brian Walshe dismembered Ana Walshe and discarded her body,” Beland said in summary of more than 10 minutes of details.

Those details — from shopping sprees that seem so dark in the hindsight of everything else to the DNA uncovered from a Swampscott dumpster — expanded upon the drips and drops of information authorities had disclosed since issuing the missing poster on Jan. 5 that included the photo of Ana standing with a slight smile and arms crossed in front of the Washington Monument that so quickly became famous across the world.

Many of those items Brian Walshe purchased in cash at the Home Depot in Rockland on Jan. 2 would turn up at a dumpster in the southeast corner of the complex where his mother lives in Swampscott, Beland said.

Video surveillance allegedly caught him making several trips to dumpsters in the region, including a Jan. 3 trip to an apartment complex in Abington where Beland said surveillance video showed a man matching Brian Walshe’s description get out of a Volvo with a bag that appeared heavy, as he had to “heft it” into the dumpster.

Twenty minutes later, it was another Abington apartment complex dumpster, the prosecutor said. The same day featured a few more criminological alleged searches: “What happens to hair on a dead body?” “What is the rate of decomposition on a body in a plastic bag compared to on a surface in the woods?” “Can baking soda make a body smell good?”

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Police searches of those dumpsters turned up nothing, Beland said, as their contents had already been taken to a facility to be shredded and incinerated by the time police got word of them. But it was a different story for the Jan. 5 trip to the Swampscott dumpster, because investigators caught the bags at a transfer station in Peabody.

In that transfer station, Beland said, were 10 trash bags that give the case its hardest evidence. Among the items recovered were familiar from the Home Depot trip, including a Tyvek suit, gloves, cleaning agents, a hacksaw, a hatchet and some cutting shears.

Also found, however, were the boots and the Cartier purse Ana was said to be wearing when she was last seen, as well as a necklace she has been seen wearing in photographs, the prosecutor said — and even a COVID-19 vaccination card in Ana’s name. Also some carpet, rugs, towels, rags and a pair of slippers.

“Many of these items contained stains consistent with blood,” Beland said, adding that DNA testing revealed that’s just what the stains were — and that Brian and Ana Walshe were the bloody contributors.

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