At the arraignment hearing for accused murderer Brian Walshe, prosecutors confirmed details of LAMag’s report that the Massachusetts father of three is suspected of killing his wife on New Year’s Day, dismembering her body with a hacksaw in their home’s basement, then disposing of her remains at two sites where they would be taken with trash to an incinerator.
Walshe, 47, is being held without bail after his arraignment Wednesday, where he was charged with the murder of his 39-year-old wife, Ana Knipp Walshe. She vanished on New Year’s Day, hours after hosting a dinner party with work friends in the town of Cohasset, where her wealthy mother-in-law had rented the family a house about a mile from the ocean, according to court records.
Gruesome details about Ana Walshe’s death and her husband’s clumsy attempt to dispose of her remains were discussed by prosecutors in a Quincy, Massachusetts courtroom, where Brian Walshe silently heard the evidence collected by investigators. Walshe, who was under house arrest awaiting sentencing in an elaborate scheme wherein he sold fake Andy Warhol paintings to a West Hollywood gallery owner, is suspected of killing his wife in the basement. He is believed to have then violated the conditions of his home confinement release by driving to a nearby Home Depot, where he purchased $450 worth of cleaning supplies and a hacksaw.
In the early morning hours of Jan. 1, the last day Ana Walshe was seen alive, prosecutors say her husband used his own cell phone and his son’s iPad to search, “How long before a body starts to smell?” at 4:55 a.m; three minutes later he searched, “How to stop a body from decomposing?” and then, at 5:47 a.m., the phrase, “10 ways to dispose of a dead body if you really need to.”
Days prior he had searched “best state for divorce,” Norfolk County Assistant District Attorney Lynn Beland told the court, adding that an initial investigation showed that on Dec. 27, the defendant searched, “what’s the best state to divorce from?’”
“Rather than divorce, we believe Brian Walshe dismembered Ana Walshe and discarded her body,” Beland said during his arraignment.
Additional searches recovered on Walshe’s devices included the phrases, “can you throw away body parts,” “what does formaldehyde do,” “how long does DNA last,” “can identification be made from partial remains,” “dismemberment and best ways to dispose of a body,” and “what happens when you put body parts in ammonia,” Beland told the court, adding he looked up,, “hacksaw best tool to dismember,” and the question, “can you be charged with murder without a body.”
Ana Walshe wasn’t reported missing until Jan. 4, when her colleagues called the police in the wealthy seaside town of Cohasset. When police questioned her husband, he told them his wife had gone on an emergency business trip to Washington, D.C.; investigators soon learned that she had not flown out of Boston’s Logan Airport and began to eye Walshe’s story.
He was arrested on Jan. 8 and charged with misleading investigators. Diana Walshe, his mother, is now being questioned as part of the investigation about what, if anything, she knew about her daughter-in-law’s disappearance and death, police sources tell LAMag. The couple’s three young sons have been taken into state custody.
A search of the basement on the day of Walshe’s arrest led to the discovery of blood, and two knives, one of which was damaged. Investigators also recovered surveillance video that shows Walshe disposing of heavy trash bags in the towns of Abington and Brockton at collection sites that incinerate garbage.
Investigators also found video of Walshe dumping trash near his mother’s home in Swampscott; this led to the recovery at a transfer station of 10 bags of evidence, which include Ana Walshe’s COVID-19 vaccination card, a necklace matching one she owned, a hacksaw, and a hatchet. Many of the items had blood evidence on them that was later connected to the Walshes through DNA testing.
Walshe’s lawyer, Tracy Miner, who also represented him in his fraud defense, declined to comment on the evidence revealed in court on Wednesday.
The Warhols and the WeHo Deal
Walshe’s prior legal case involved defrauding the owner of Revolver Gallery on Sunset Boulevard. It began with an “act of trust,” prosecutors said between Walshe and a friend he met during his freshman year at Carnegie Mellon University. During a visit to South Korea, Walshe offered to help the college pal sell two Andy Warhol “Shadows” paintings along with a “Dollar Sign,” by the artist, along with a Keith Haring original. The victim’s family had purchased “Shadows” from a dealer for $240,000 and had them authenticated by the Andy Warhol Foundation, with official stamps on the back.
“At some point, Walshe formed the intention to neither return the ‘Shadows,’ prosecutors said in court records. These records quote excerpts from diary entries recovered from Walshe’s computer, including one where he wrote of his “need to get off with some of the good pieces” of art. In another entry, he wrote that his friend and “his family are all about themselves. Makes it easy for me to do them up. Whatever.”
During the South Korea trip, Walshe stole his friend’s Audemars Piguet, a high-end Swiss watch, which he later sold for $12,000; he wrote about it in his diary, adding, “being in Korea is making me crazy. I could have done something fun. If I don’t make $ on this trip I will be pissed. Need to sell the Shadows. I will take all the $…Let him deal with it.”
Later, Walshe’s friend tried to retrieve the artwork but he refused to hand it over. “I guess he can eat it!” he wrote in his diary.
“To this day,” prosecutors wrote, “Walshe has not returned” the valuable artwork.
In 2016, Walshe paid a forger to copy the real Warhol paintings but posted photos of the authenticated stolen paintings on eBay, asking for $100,000. Ron Rivlin, who owns the sophisticated gallery that specializes in Warhol’s work, responded. They agreed upon a price of $80,000 for the two pieces. On Nov. 7, 2016, Rivlin’s assistant traveled to Boston and met Walshe at the Bristol Lounge inside the Four Seasons.
“With her cell phone,” prosecutors wrote, “[she] took pictures of the forged paintings,” and handed him a cashier’s check for $80,000. Walshe cashed the check immediately, prosecutors say and enjoyed the riches while wooing his then-girlfriend, Ana Knipp. This was all part of a pattern of committing crimes to “sustain his lavish lifestyle using unlawful means,” prosecutors said.
Rivlin discovered the paintings were fakes at first look and found that there were no authentication stamps. He called Walshe, who ducked his demands but eventually reached Ana Walshe at work in a luxury Boston hotel. In the end, prosecutors say, after much cajoling, Brian Walshe sent two wires to Rivlin for $30,000 and “then cut off contact with the victim.”
So Rivlin contacted the FBI, which led to Walshe being indicted on federal fraud and money laundering charges by the U.S. Attorney in Boston, who called his crime “dangerous, bold, and harmful,” and a crime that began with him “betraying a friend.”
The FBI subsequently uncovered a slew of other crimes Walshe had committed against his so-called friends: borrowing $500,000 from one and never repaying it; hosting elaborate dinners and running out on the bill; stealing from his own late father by destroying a will that disinherited his son; and later, hosting a “Spectacular Oceanfront Estate Sale” to profit off of the dead man’s belongings.
A friend of the late Dr. Thomas Walshe told the court that the late man’s son was a “sociopath” who had been committed for serious mental health issues after he embezzled $800,000 from his father. Dr. Walshe died while traveling in India in 2018.
On Wednesday, prosecutors did not discuss a motive for the grisly murder of Ana Walshe. However, in court records regarding his art forgery case, a federal judge chided her husband for not including details of his wife’s “substantial assets” in a court-ordered financial disclosure.
Before her death, Ana Walshe spent weekdays at the Washington, D.C. condo she purchased after selling a house she owned on ultra-exclusive Jerusalem Road in Cohasset for nearly $1.4 million, court records show. On Jan. 6, a two-alarm fire broke out in that house—two days before her husband’s arrest. Cohasset Police Chief William Quigley called the timing of the fire a “strange coincidence,” though it has been officially ruled accidental.
In June, Ana Walshe had submitted a letter of support to the federal judge who would sentence her husband, writing that she wanted to “express her gratitude” that U.S. District Court Justice Doug Woodlock allowed him to remain out of prison on house arrest as the government pushed for him to serve 30 months for his long history of fraud.
“During these eight months, our family was able to be together during many of the milestones: our youngest son turned one, our middle son started to speak, and our eldest son who had just started kindergarten…lost his first tooth,” she wrote. “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.”
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