Rich Ana, Poor Anna: Disparate Tales of Immigrant Women Murdered Over the Holidays

The rich Ana’s murder in MA garnered unrelenting headlines. The poor Anna, who died in Los Angeles, only one.

Over the holidays, two women who immigrated to the United States and have variations on the same first name—Anna and Ana—were both brutally killed during what, for each woman, were meant to be celebratory moments in their life. Both Ana and Anna were allegedly killed by their romantic partner—however, headlines about one woman’s death tore across front pages nationwide while the other’s horrific death was barely noticed. 

Ana Walshe immigrated from Serbia to the U.S. in 2005, and met her husband, a Bostonian trust fund kid with a history of fraud and mental illness, a man accused of ripping off his own dead father, his best friend, and a slew of other associates despite his inherited wealth, while working at upscale hotels in the Bay State.

Anna Costa was an immigrant from a small town in Brazil near the Amazonian jungle who, upon arrival in the U.S., joined an Army program called Military Assets Vital to National Interests, in an attempt to obtain citizenship for herself and her family.

Weeks after their killings, the bodies of both slain women have still not been recovered. But news coverage of their deaths has been wildly disparate. Walshe’s murder and the disposal of her body is believed to have occurred in the tony coastal town of Massachusetts; the gory details became the stuff of national headlines and nightly newscasts. In the U.S., Costa’s death has only been written about on this very website.

Ana Walshe married into wealth and died gruesomely, as prosecutors state, at the hands of her husband, Brian Walshe. He’s the son of a neurosurgeon who grew up in an oceanfront estate in the resort town of Hull, Massachusetts, attended boarding school and a top college, and had connected parents to bail him out of relentless criminal and personal jams.

His wife was last seen in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day in a million-dollar estate in another tony Massachusetts beach town. She died in the basement of the home she shared with her three young boys and sometimes her mother-in-law, prosecutors say. Investigators believe her husband took a hacksaw to her remains just hours after the couple hosted her real estate colleagues to ring in the New Year. Then, prosecutors believe, he hauled the hacked pieces of her 115-pound body to various trash sites that would be transported to facilities that use incinerators, so her body is unlikely to be found.

Anna Costa came to the U.S. seeking the American dream and serving in the U.S. armed forces was her way to get it. At some point in recent months, she hooked up with a fellow Brazilian, a man who s now suspected of killing in Brazil—also involving a young woman he had dated. There were no headlines in Brazil when that woman went missing, perhaps because she was too poor to merit a story. And, unlike Ana Walshe, there has been exactly one headline in the U.S. when Luis Antonio Gomes Akay confessed to the FBI’s L.A. field office that he killed Anna when she said she wanted to end her relationship while the two were vacationing in California. Now he refuses to say where he hid Costa’s body other than to say it’s somewhere in the mountains.  Lt. Omar Camacho of the LA Sheriffs Department told LA Mag on Friday deputies are continuing to look for Anna’s body, while Akay remains in LASD custody on a murder charge. “We have not located the victim,” Camacho said. “The weather has not helped, but the search is ongoing.”  

Ana Walshe was 39 years old when she was last seen on New Year’s Day. Her disappearance launched a massive law enforcement manhunt through trash dumps all over Massachusetts, professional police dives in bodies of water, and trained hunts around several pieces of real estate she owned (worth roughly $3 million dollars), all as her husband was initially jailed for lying to police until Wednesday when he pleaded not guilty to killing her. Her three little boys, all under the age of six, are in state custody. 

Anna Costa was last heard from on December 27 when she was in El Segundo, a guest of the DoubleTree Hotel near LAX. She told her family her boyfriend was paying to take her from the Virginia Army base where she was stationed for a vacation sightseeing around L.A., all to celebrate her 23rd birthday. When her mom in Brazil stopped receiving phone calls, she went to the Brazilian police, who called the FBI. The Feds tracked down Akay, who, during questioning, confessed. 

Brazilian authorities told reporters there that Akay thinks he might beat his murder charge if prosecutors don’t find her body.  LA District Attorney George Gascon’s office isn’t talking either and refused to reveal information about the killing other than to say the suspect has pleaded not guilty and is due back at the Airport criminal courthouse on Feb. 15.

One wealthy Ana and one poor Anna—both beautiful, vivacious women with bright futures snatched away by seemingly undeserving men. And both deserve equal attention in the hunt for their discarded remains.

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