An investigation into a missing Massachusetts woman turned grisly over the weekend, after police discovered a bloody knife in the basement of her home and arrested her art-fraudster husband for misleading authorities in her search. Now, investigators are looking for further signs of foul play in what authorities are calling the “suspicious disappearance” of Ana Walshe, a real estate executive and mother of three young sons who lived in the wealthy coastal town of Cohasset, Massachusetts.
Brian Walshe, 47, was arrested on Sunday and appeared in court Monday, charged with misleading investigators in the search for Ana Walshe, 39, whom he claimed he last saw in the early hours of Jan. 1, when, he said, she left town for a work trip. CNN reported that police found internet searches by Brian about disposing of bodies, however, and when police searched the couple’s home, they found blood and a bloodied knife in the basement, prosecutors revealed in court, according to reports by local news outlets.
The exact timing of Ana Walshe’s disappearance is uncertain. On New Year’s Eve, the couple hosted a friend for dinner. That much is confirmed by their guest, Gem Mutlu, who spoke with Boston’s CBS station WBZ. “Brian had cooked an elaborate meal for us, and we hugged and celebrated and toasted, just what you’d do over New Years,” he told the reporter on Monday, occasionally breaking down in tears as he spoke. “There was a lot of looking forward to the new year.” He had been suspicious of Brian’s story, however. “A part of me had this suspicion all along that there may have been foul play, and that somehow just the story wasn’t adding up,” he added. He said he held onto some hope that Ana could still be alive, for the sake of her children.
According to a police affidavit filed Monday in Quincy District Court, Brian told police that Ana had left their home early the morning of Jan. 1 for a “work emergency.” Ana commuted frequently between Cohasset and Washington, D.C., where the couple owns a townhouse and Ana has a car, although there was no sign that she arrived there after her disappearance, police revealed at a press conference Jan. 6. Brian said Ana kissed him goodbye and told him to go back to sleep. She left around 6 or 7 a.m., he claimed, and told police she typically takes a cab or a car from a rideshare app to the airport. Police, however, were not able to find evidence she’d taken a rideshare car or that she had gotten on a flight.
Other elements of Brian’s story didn’t add up, either. He told police that later that day, he had run errands for his mother, who lives north of Boston, at Whole Foods and CVS, but no video footage showed him at either store during the timeframe he described.
The following day, Jan. 2, the affidavit states, Brian told police he only left the house to take their son out for a milkshake. After the ice cream trip, however, surveillance footage captured Brian at a Home Depot, wearing a surgical mask and gloves, and making a cash purchase. At Brian’s arraignment on Monday, prosecutors said he had purchased $450 worth of supplies, including mops, a bucket, and a tarp. The errand was an unapproved trip taken in violation of his pre-sentencing house arrest for a federal fraud conviction.
In 2021, Brian pleaded guilty to charges that he’d sold fake Andy Warhol paintings to a gallery owner in Los Angeles. Court filings from that case show Brian sold fake prints from Warhol’s Shadows series on eBay in 2016 for $80,000. The victim was Ron Rivlin, owner of Revolver Gallery in California, the world’s largest Andy Warhol gallery. “He’s a calculated guy,” Rivlin told WBZ on Tuesday, after news of Brian’s recent arrest broke. “I’ve bought over a thousand Warhols and this is the one and only acquisition that got by me. He was that good…What happened to me is telling of [Walshe’s] masterful ability to coerce people.”
Brian was awaiting sentencing for the federal conviction and wearing an ankle monitor at the time of his wife’s disappearance. In June, Ana had written a letter to the judge, thanking him for allowing Brian to be home with his family while awaiting sentencing. He had been there for their sons and both of their aging mothers, she wrote, and teaching their kids the importance of doing charity work. “Brian has been working consistently on breaking the past habits of his family and we are all looking forward to the new chapter of his life,” she wrote. As part of Brian’s house arrest, he was only allowed to leave the house for approved purposes, but the week Ana went missing, he made multiple violations, prosecutors reportedly said at his arraignment.
Ana Walshe was not reported missing until Jan. 4, when her coworkers reportedly called the police. Between Jan. 5 and 7, more than 20 officers from local and state police departments used K9 units and dive teams to search the woods and waterways surrounding the Walshes’ home, but found nothing. In Brian Walshe’s internet history, however, police found evidence that he’d looked up information on “how to dispose of a 115-pound woman’s body,” law-enforcement sources told CNN. Then, when they executed a search warrant on the family’s home on Sunday, Jan. 8, they discovered the knife and blood in the basement. Brian was arrested.
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On Monday, Brian pleaded not guilty and was held on $500,000 cash bail. His attorney, Tracy Miner, declined through a staffer to comment on the case. That same day, police were searching through trash at multiple locations in the Boston area, including close to Brian’s mother’s home.
On Tuesday, the Norfolk District Attorney’s office released a statement that acknowledged authorities were analyzing items gathered during that search. “Search activity conducted north of Boston yesterday resulted in a number of items being collected which will now be subject to processing and testing to determine if they are of evidentiary value to this investigation,” the statement said. The DA’s office would not confirm details of the items, but sources told WBZ they included a hatchet, a hacksaw, a rug, and used cleaning supplies. The DA’s office announced in a statement later on Tuesday that police have finished processing the Walshes’ house and said, “the investigation continues.”