According to a press release issued by Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey on January 8, 2023, Cohasset and Massachusetts State Police have taken Brian Walshe, 46, of Cohasset, Massachusetts, into custody “charging him with misleading a police investigation.”
Cohasset police wrote in a news release that they were seeking the public’s help “in locating a missing resident who was last seen in the early morning hours of Jan. 1.”
In a court hearing on January 9, 2023, the prosecutor, Norfolk Assistant District Attorney Lynn Beland, said that Ana Walshe’s cell phone pinged in the area of the couple’s house on January 1 and 2 after Brian Walshe said she had left the home. “Blood was found in the basement area,” she told the judge. Beland also said that a knife with blood was found in the home, and part of the knife was damaged.
CNN reported, through sources, that investigators :found search queries on Brian Walshe’s internet records for ‘how to dispose of a 115-pound woman’s body’ and how to dismember a body.”
According to the prosecutor, Walshe is already on house arrest awaiting sentencing in federal court on a previous crime, for an art fraud scheme. She also told the judge that he went to Home Depot and purchased about $450 in cleaning supplies, including mops and buckets.
Bail was set at $500,000.
“Ana Walshe, age 39, was last seen at her home in Cohasset shortly after midnight on New Year’s Day,” they wrote. “Walshe stands 5’2″ and weighs 115 pounds. She has brown hair, brown eyes and has an olive complexion. It is believed that she speaks with an Eastern European accent.”
“She’s a loving and loyal wife and mother of three beautiful boys,” Alissa Kirby, a friend, said to WCVB-TV. “She loves her family, and I know in my heart that of her choice, she would not go a day without speaking to her husband and her kids.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The District Attorney Says That Police Have ‘Probable Cause’ That Brian Walshe Misled Police Investigators
In the court hearing, Beland said that Brian Walshe wasn’t supposed to leave home because of the federal house arrest, but he told authorities he left on January 1 to go to his mother’s house. He also said he went to Whole Foods and CVS, but he’s not on video doing so and there are no receipts, the prosecutor said, adding that these statements “caused a lot of delay” in the investigation. Brian Walshe also said he took his son for ice cream on January 2 when he was actually going to Home Depot, she said.
The defense attorney, Tracy Miner, said during the court hearing that Brian Walshe had contacted his wife’s employer to say he had not heard from his wife. She also said he consented to searches of his home, property and cell phone, calling him “incredibly cooperative.” She noted he is not charged with murder.
Ana Walshe is still missing, the district attorney’s press release says.
“Cohasset and Massachusetts State Police Continue to investigate the disappearance of Ana Walshe, 39, of Cohasset,” the district attorney’s release says.
“During the course of that investigation, police developed probable cause to believe that her husband Brian Walshe had committed the crime of misleading police investigators,” the release says.
“Mr. Walshe is expected to be arraigned in the morning session of the Quincy District Court tomorrow, January 9, 2023; additional facts may or may not be entered into the record at that time, but no further information is expected to be released at this time.”
The release advises that “as with all criminal matters, every defendant enjoys the Constitutional presumption of innocence until proven guilty.”
Cohasset Police Chief William Quigley said in a January 6, 2023, news conference that Walshe had been missing “since the early morning hours of the first of the year.” He said that detectives are working “around the clock” to find Walshe.
“At this point, it’s a missing person’s investigation,” he said, adding that police had nothing to support anything criminal.
“She was last seen at her house in Cohasset,” around 4 or 5 a.m. and was reported missing the next day by both her employer in Washington D.C., and husband, Quigley said in the news conference. He said that police were told she took a ride share from her home to Boston Logan International Airport to board a plane to go to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington D.C. Police have not been able to confirm that she actually got into a ride share service, Quigley said in the news conference.
Quigley added that he had confirmed with all airlines that Ana Walshe did not board a plane. He said the chaos with cancelled flights gave police some difficulty initially confirming that information. Quigley said Ana Walshe’s husband and family had been cooperative, adding that Ana Walshe has family living outside of the country.
It was reported to police that she had her bags with her, Quigley said, adding that her cell phone “has been off” since around the first of the year. Her credit cards have also not been active, according to Quigley. He did not say who reported that information to police specifically.
If Ana Walshe just needed a break or time out, police asked her to call to let them know she is okay, Quigley said in the news conference. She commutes several times a month to Washington D.C., where the couple has a townhouse, according to Quigley. There were no signs of her at the townhouse, he said.
Brian Walshe was “sleeping when she left,” Quigley said. “It’s not normal that she’s missing.” He said police believe she’s “in danger” by the mere fact she is missing, but there was no evidence to support that anything illegal happened.
Ana Walshe has three small children between the ages of 2 and 6 years old, Quigley said in the news conference. He said she is an executive in property management in Washington D.C. and has friends all over the country. It was reported she was called to Washington D.C. due to an emergency at one of the properties she manages, Quigley said in the news conference.
She had a flight booked for January 3, 2023, but she did not get on that flight either, he said.
2. Brian Walshe Was Previously Convicted in an Art Fraud Scheme Over Faked Andy Warhol Paintings, Prosecutors Say
In 2021, Brian Walshe was convicted after the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release that he took art from a friend, and then “falsely offered the authentic Warhol paintings for sale on eBay, but delivered fake paintings to buyer.”
A press release from the Department of Justice said that Walshe, then of Lynn, had pleaded guilty “in connection with taking and attempting to sell two Warhol paintings on eBay.”
“Brian R. Walshe, 46, pleaded guilty to one count each of wire fraud, interstate transportation for a scheme to defraud, possession of converted goods and unlawful monetary transaction,” the release said.
In a letter to the judge in that case, Ana Walshe wrote that she wanted to express gratitude for “having allowed Brian to spend the last eight months at home supporting his children and closest family members. 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 when we saw you last is now only a few weeks away from completing the year and preparing for first grade. He also lost his first tooth.”
She described other “challenges” faced by the family, including her mother’s health problems, saying “Brian was the one who heard my mother’s sighs for help within seconds and immediately called me and emergency.”
Ana Walshe wrote the judge that her mother credited Brian Walshe with saving her life. “He also brought her and the entire family comfort and joy during the course of her illness,” the letter says.
He continued to “be in contribution and focus on charity work, serve as a coach within his transformational leadership academy, continue to take care of his ailing elderly mother and be there for his sons day in and day out,” Ana Walshe wrote in the letter.
She wrote that Walshe had “included our family and especially our sons in many of the charitable activities he has been partaking,” from walking for World Peace Day in Dorchester to “stopping by the Pine Street Inn in Boston to drop off food and sanitary supplies.” Ana Walshe wrote that “Brian has been teaching our young boys from early on how important it is to share the joy and be in contribution with time and resources.”
She said that “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.” The letter was filed with the court on June 7, 2022. You can read it here.
Read the sentencing memorandum in federal court here.
The sentencing transcript discusses the estate of Thomas Morecroft Walshe, whose home and physical possessions had been sold. The judge expressed concern during the sentencing about getting the victims restitution, saying, “maybe what the defendant is doing is engaging in a process of manipulation that suggests that he’s acknowledging his responsibility but sorry he can’t pay for it.”
The release accused Brian Walshe of the following:
In early November 2016, a buyer found two Andy Warhol paintings for sale on eBay. The paintings were two of Warhol’s ‘Shadows,’ a series of untitled, abstract canvas paintings from 1978. The original listing price for the paintings was $100,000. In the advertisement, the eBay seller included a picture of an invoice for the two Warhol Shadow paintings with Warhol Foundation numbers and a purchase price of $240,000.
The buyer believed the paintings were authentic and between Nov. 3 and 5, 2016, arranged with Walshe – the seller – to purchase the artwork outside of eBay for $80,000. Walshe and the buyer signed a contract which specified that the buyer had three days to terminate the contract and get a full refund if the buyer did not accept the artwork. On Nov. 7, 2016, the buyer’s assistant flew to Boston and met Walshe to retrieve the paintings, providing him with a cashier’s check for $80,000. According to bank records, the cashier’s check was deposited that day into an account that Walshe controlled, and $33,400 was subsequently withdrawn in the following 14 days. On Nov. 8, 2016, the buyer removed the paintings’ frames and found no Warhol Foundation authentication stamps and noticed that the canvasses and staples looked new. When he compared the paintings to the photographs from the eBay listing, they did not look identical. The buyer concluded that the paintings he purchased from Walshe were not authentic. The buyer then repeatedly attempted to contact Walshe, who initially did not respond, and then made excuses for the delay in refunding the buyer’s money.
Walshe initially gained access to the paintings through a friend (the victim). Walshe was present when the victim first purchased a Warhol painting. Sometime after this purchase, the victim purchased the two Shadow paintings. Thereafter, while visiting the victim in South Korea, Walshe told the victim that he could sell some of the art for a good price. The victim agreed and let Walshe take the two Shadow paintings and other fine art pieces.
After Walshe took the items, the victim did not hear from Walshe and was unable to contact him. Eventually, the victim contacted a mutual friend, who met with Walshe and retrieved some of the art. On May 3, 2011, Walshe attempted to consign the Warhol paintings to a gallery in New York City, at which time he also had other art belonging to the victim. The gallery declined to accept the paintings because Walshe did not have a bill of sale.
The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of interstate transportation for a scheme to defraud provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of possession of converted goods provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of unlawful monetary transaction provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
In the news conference, Quigley said the husband’s legal history is “not believed to have any relation to this case.”
The court documents say that search warrants were issued for the “persons of Walshe and Ana Knipp,” who is also known as Ana Walshe.
The initial advertisement for the paintings said, in part, “We are selling 2 Andy Warhol paintings from our private collection. We are parting with these pieces only because we need the money for renovations to our house. Our loss is your gain,” the affidavit says.
The affidavit says that the victim noticed there were “no Warhol Foundation authentication stamps” and “the canvasses and staples looked new.”
At one point, the victim called Knipp, who was identified in the affidavit as “Walshe’s wife,” the court documents say.
They say the victim then received an email from Brian Walshe thanking him for “calling my wife.”
According to the affidavit, the true owner of the paintings was the family of a person who met Walshe in 1994 at Carnegie Mellon University, when they were both students. Walshe did not graduate and was only there for a year but visited the person in South Korea, according to the affidavit, which says Knipp and Walshe were married December 21, 2015.
“According to the marriage license, Knipp was going to change her last name to Walshe. However, her RMV listing, bank records and the deed for the residence continue to list her as Knipp,” the affidavit says.
“Knipp participated in the sale of the paintings . . . Walshe (or Knipp) used her eBay listing and she spoke to Victim 1,” the affidavit says. Ana Walshe was not charged in connection with the fraud scheme.
You can read the court affidavit here.
Brian Walshe also received a number of letters on his behalf during the federal court case. Read them here.
A victim’s letter to the judge in the court file says, “It’s been nearly five years since Brian Walshe set the trap in which people like myself and others would fall victim of. Some apparently to blatant deception, and others like myself to a ‘bait and switch’ . . . Brian Walshe craftily offered me authentic artworks but delivered forgeries.”
This victim wrote that Walshe “also seemed to be a likable guy, genuine in communication, and quite accommodating – a skill of a successful conman. He was vocal of his generational wealth and his family’s successes. He had the address of a multi-million-dollar home on his driver’s license to back it up.”
Read another victim’s letter here.
On LinkedIn, Brian Walshe wrote that he is “CFO and Co-Founder at LETS: Leadership & Effective Teamwork Strategies.” His LinkedIn page says that, before that, he was chief financial officer for Capital Letters Consulting for 10 months and an “international business strategist” for Ten Sail Consulting for more than five years in the Greater Boston area.
3. Police Have Searched for Ana Walshe In the Wooded Areas Near Her Home & in a Small Stream & Pool
The Cohasset Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police wrote in a January 7, 2023, news release that they had conducted a ground search for Ana Walshe for “evidence related to her disappearance.” That search has concluded, they wrote.
“Twenty Troopers from the MSP Special Emergency Response Team, a specialized unit trained in search and rescue operations, as well as three K9 teams and the State Police Air Wing searched wooded areas near Ms. Walshe’s home with negative results for the second straight day,” the release says.
“State Police divers also searched a small stream and a pool with negative results. The ground search will not resume unless police develop new information that so warrants it,” continued the release. “Simultaneously, State Police and Cohasset Police detectives continue to undertake various investigative actions to determine Ms. Walshe’s whereabouts.”
4. An Accidental Fire Broke Out at Ana Walshe’s Former Home After She Disappeared, Police Say
In a press release dated January 6, 2023, and posted on the Cohasset Police Department’s website, the Cohasset Fire Department’s Chief John Dockray confirmed that the department “responded to a two-alarm fire at a home on Jerusalem Road Friday afternoon.”
At 2:14 p.m., Cohasset Fire and Police “were dispatched to 725 Jerusalem Road for a report of a fire. Upon arrival, firefighters observed smoke coming from the attic of the home. Cohasset crews struck a second alarm shortly after arriving on scene,” the release said. The Walshes lived in the home until April 2022, according to NBC Boston.
“The four occupants of the home — three adults and a young child — safely escaped prior to first responders’ arrival. There were no injuries,” according to the release. “Hull, Scituate and Hingham Fire provided mutual aid support on-scene, while Norwell Fire provided station coverage.”
The news release continued: “The cause of the fire is undetermined at this time and remains under investigation by the Office of the State Fire Marshal and Cohasset Police, though it does not appear to be suspicious.”
In the January 7, 2023, news release, police wrote, “Regarding yesterday’s fire at Ms. Walshe’s former house on Jerusalem Road, the State Police Fire and Explosives Investigation Unit and local investigators have determined that the cause of the fire was accidental.”
The release continued, “There is nothing further that we are reporting publicly at this time.”
5. Ana Walshe, Who Graduated From the University of Belgrade, Held a Series of Jobs at Top Hotels in Boston
On LinkedIn, Ana Walshe wrote that she is regional general manager of Tishman Speyer, a real estate company.
Previously, she was director of operations for The Mutlu Group in Boston, Massachusetts; director of rooms for The Newbury Boston; rooms manager at Taj Hotels in Boston; and director of front office at the InterContinental Boston, along with other jobs, the LinkedIn page says.
She has a master’s certificate in essentials of hospitality management from Cornell University and a bachelor of French language and literature degree from the University of Belgrade, according to her LinkedIn page, which said she also volunteered on a project for artistic galleries and for a music festival in Ath, Belgium.