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Brian Walshe denied bail after prosecutor says he stood to gain $2.7 million in life insurance for the death of Ana Walshe

<i>Pool/WFXT</i><br/>Brian Walshe
Brian Walshe

By Holly Yan, CNN

A Massachusetts father accused of killing and dismembering his wife was denied bail Thursday, almost five months after she disappeared.

But the whereabouts of Ana Walshe’s body remain a mystery.

Brian Walshe shook his head as his murder charge was read aloud in Norfolk Superior Court. He pleaded not guilty to the charges of murder, misleading police and improper conveyance of a human body.

In Massachusetts, a first-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Shortly after Walshe pleaded not guilty, Norfolk Assistant District Attorney Greg Connor outlined a spate of new details from the investigation.

Among them: “Ana Walshe had taken out approximately $2.2 million in life insurance on herself, where Brian Walshe is the sole beneficiary,” Connor said. She also had a life insurance policy through her employer, the prosecutor said.

“In total, her life insurance is over $2.7 million, where the defendant was the sole beneficiary.”

Also, in December 2022, “it had become evident that Mr. Walshe was suspecting his wife of having an affair,” Connor said.

“He was routinely visiting the Instagram page of one of her male friends. And on December 26th, his mother — with his input and direction — obtained and hired a private investigator to surveil Ana Walshe in Washington, DC.”

Brian Walshe’s defense attorney Tracy Miner noted that no body has been found and said there is “no indication of if she died, how she died” and no murder weapon or motive established.

Miner disputed the allegation that Brian Walshe suspected his wife — who worked for a real estate firm in DC — was having an affair, saying there was “really no evidence” for the claim.

“Mr. Walshe had no idea that his wife was having an affair until he learned it in discovery in this case,” Miner said.

Miner also countered the prosecution’s notion that Walshe was trying to cash in on his wife’s life insurance policies. She said there is “no evidence Mr. Walsh was the least bit needing of money” and noted that his mother is wealthy.

Prosecutor reveals more online searches

A trove of cell phone data and surveillance footage supports the charges against Walshe, the prosecutor said Thursday.

Ana Walshe, a 39-year-old mother of three young children, was last seen alive during the early morning hours of January 1, Connor said.

Later that morning, “The oldest child’s iPad begins to visit websites that concern how long does it take for a dead body to smell? How long does it take for someone to be missing to be declared dead?” the prosecutor said.

More online searches followed on January 1, such as “How long must someone go missing in order to collect?” Connor said. “And there was a visit of a website for luxury watches.”

That same day, Brian Walshe told a babysitter and a family friend that he had lost his phone, Connor said.

“Subsequent analysis of his phone determined that it was actually plugged in the morning of January 1,” the prosecutor said. “However, while his phone stayed at the house, the oldest child’s cell phone did not.”

Cell phone data revealed the device traveled to two stores on January 1, and Brian Walshe was seen on surveillance videos walking into the stores by himself, Connor said.

Around 5:30 p.m., surveillance video showed Walshe and his car going to a dumpster in the parking lot of a liquor store and disposing of items before returning to his car, the prosecutor said.

Afterward, cell phone data shows the device traveled to the dumpster at an apartment complex where Walshe’s mother lived, Connor said.

The phone then traveled to a Lowe’s store, where Walshe is also seen on surveillance footage. He purchased five 5-gallon buckets, a hacksaw, 48 terry cloth towels, a full-coverage suit, 200 disposable rags, trash bags and cleaning products, Connor said.

The cell phone then traveled to a CVS store, where Walshe was also seen on surveillance video. There, he purchased “13 different types of hydrogen peroxide,” the prosecutor said.

Later, questionable searches were made using the oldest child’s iPad, Connor said. Those search queries included “how long Lowe’s maintains security videos, how apartments maintain surveillance, and numerous articles about dismembering a human body,” Connor said.

Another search on the iPad involved “removing the odor of decomposing bodies,” Connor said.

But prosecutors have not said whether Ana Walshe’s body or remains have been found.

In reference to some of Walshe’s Google searches on how to dispose of a body and prevent one from decomposing, Miner admitted they were “problematic,” but she argued that he also made other Google searches during the same time frame about how to set up a charitable corporation to give away lottery winnings and the best places to go on family vacation.

Walshe has been “cooperative with police from day one,” Miner said.

The judge denied Miner’s request for bail to be set at $250,000 and ordered Walshe to be held without bail and set his next pretrial conference for August 23. The next pretrial hearing is scheduled for November 2.

‘Ten ways to dispose of a dead body if you really need to’

Three days after she was last seen alive in Massachusetts, Ana Walshe was reported missing by her employer on January 4.

Another Norfolk County prosecutor previously detailed some of Brian Walshe’s alleged online searches in the days before and after his wife’s disappearance.

“Rather than divorce, it is believed that Brian Walshe dismembered Ana Walshe and discarded her body,” prosecutor Lynn Beland said at the suspect’s January arraignment.

On December 27 — a few days before the mother disappeared — the husband allegedly searched on Google: “What’s the best state to divorce for a man?”

After Ana Walshe disappeared, Brian Walshe allegedly Google searched phrases such as “Ten ways to dispose of a dead body if you really need to,” “dismemberment and the best ways to dispose of a body,” “can you be charged with murder without a body,” and “can you identify a body with broken teeth,” the prosecutor said.

A hacksaw, a hatchet and Ana Walshe’s purse

Surveillance video captured Brian Walshe tossing heavy bags into dumpsters in Abington and in Swampscott, Beland said. Cell phone data showed the husband visited a dumpster near his mother’s home in Swampscott, the prosecutor said.

The bags in Abington had been destroyed by the time police located them, Beland said.

But she said the trash bags in Swampscott were found in a collection site in Peabody and contained blood stains, cleaning equipment, a hacksaw, a hatchet, a Prada purse carried by Ana Walshe and her Covid-19 vaccination card.

The state crime lab tested some of the bloody items in the bags and found DNA from Ana and Brian Walshe, Beland said.

‘A brilliant businesswoman’ and ‘supermom’

Ana Walshe was “an absolute radiant spirit, the kind of person that when you walk into a room, you just feel her energy,” her friend Pamela Bardhi told CNN.

“She’s a brilliant businesswoman and what I like to call a supermom.”

Ana Walshe would travel from Cohasset to DC during the week for her real estate job at Tishman Speyer and then return home on weekends, Bardhi said.

“She has been a power woman and just a businesswoman, as long as I’ve known her,” Bardhi said. “She never really talked about her husband much. It was all about her kids and business and elevation and how she could help other people.”

The couple’s three children were placed in the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, a spokesperson said. Two of Ana Walshe’s friends, including Bardhi, said several local families had offered to take in the children so they could remain together.

At the time of her disappearance, Ana Walshe had a real estate portfolio worth nearly $2 million, according to CNN’s analysis of publicly available documents.

She owned at least four residential properties, according to property assessment records and tax records in Massachusetts, Maryland and DC. Her husband was not listed as owner or co-owner of any of the properties.

Property records examined by CNN include those in both her married name and the name she used before marrying Brian Walshe, Ana Knipp, but may not be an exhaustive picture of her real estate holdings.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Jean Cesarez, Adrienne Vogt, Samantha Beech, Laura Dolan, Kristina Sgueglia, Eric Levenson, Amanda Watts, Jason Carroll, Kiely Westhoff, Anna Bahney, Lindsey Knight and Celina Tebor contributed to this report.

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