COHASSET — Police here searched wooded areas Friday a short distance from the home of 39-year-old Ana Walshe, a married mother of three who has been missing since early in the morning of New Year’s Day.
Police had already used K-9s to search the grounds of the family’s home in the 500 block of Chief Justice Cushing Highway and adjacent properties. On Friday afternoon, investigators launched a new search emanating from the parking lot of a nearby Stop & Shop store at 400 Chief Justice Cushing Highway involving State Police and regional police units trained in search and rescue efforts, officials said.
The outdoor search was ended for the night about 7 p.m., after searchers had covered slightly less than 1 square mile of land, and is expected to resume on Saturday, according to David Procopio, a State Police spokesman. An indoor search continued into the night, Procopio said.
While police were searching for evidence related to Walshe near her current home on Friday, a two-alarm fire broke out at 725 Jerusalem Road, a home she bought for $800,000 in 2020 and sold for $1.385 million in March 2022, according to officials and state records.
The fire was reported at 2:14 p.m., and firefighters arrived to find smoke coming from the attic and struck a second alarm, according to a spokesman for the Cohasset Fire Department.
Four people — three adults and a young child — got themselves out prior to the arrival of firefighters. The fire is under investigation, but does not appear to be suspicious, the spokesman said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by Cohasset police and the state fire marshal’s office.
A neighbor said residents called 911 after smelling smoke.
Cohasset Fire Chief John Dockray said at the scene shortly after 6 p.m. that the home had severe damage and its roof had collapsed, but no injuries were reported. He said the family had left to stay with friends and family and that the search for Ana Walshe was ongoing.
The Norfolk district attorney’s office is assisting Cohasset officials with the search, according to spokesman David Traub.
Walshe was last seen by a family member around 4 a.m. on Jan. 1 when she was expected to take a rideshare to Logan Airport in Boston for a flight to Washington, D.C., where she works for an international real estate developer and property manager, officials said Friday.
But Walshe did not make it to Logan, and Cohasset Police Chief William Quigley told reporters Friday that investigators have not confirmed she took a rideshare from her home. “We can’t confirm that a rideshare actually picked her up,” he said.
He also said Walshe, who is very active on social media, has not used her cellphone since New Year’s Day.
“Right now it’s a missing person’s investigation,” Quigley told reporters. “And the focus right now is on trying to locate her. Whether she just needed a little break, or a time out, we’re just looking for her. If that’s the case, we’re just looking for her to call. All it takes is a phone call to let us know that she’s okay.”
Walshe, who is married and is the mother of three children under the age of 6, has not been in contact with her family, friends, or co-workers as she routinely was before this Sunday.
Quigley said Washington, D.C., police searched a residence in that city the Walshe family owns, but did not locate her.
Walshe, according to her LinkedIn page, is a regional general manager for Tishman Speyer, a high-end property management and real estate brokerage.
“You know, life is challenging sometimes,” Quigley said during the press briefing Friday. “She has three small kids, the oldest being 6, the youngest being 2. The holidays, working out of state, sometimes life gets chaotic. So it may be a case where she just needed a break, and if that’s the case, we just need a call from her, or someone who has talked to her.”
In a brief statement, Tishman Speyer said the company is cooperating with the search.
“We are actively assisting the local authorities in their ongoing search for our beloved colleague, Ana, and are praying for her safe return,’’ the statement issued by a public relations firm said.
A review of Walshe’s social media feeds suggests a woman who’s well-traveled and frequently socializing with friends, co-workers, and family, sometimes at high-end spots.
She appeared to post from Belgrade, Serbia, on Dec. 5, uploading a photo of a historical building to Instagram. Two days later she posted a photo of a wing of a plane in midair said to have departed from Frankfurt International Airport in Germany, captioning the picture with the hashtags #surreal and #beauty.
On Dec. 23, she posted a photo of herself wearing a Washington Capitals jersey from Capitol One Arena in Washington, D.C., writing “Officially a fan” in the caption.
There is also a photo of Walshe with television personality Paul Wharton at a singing for Wharton’s new book in D.C. on Dec. 13.
She’s also been involved in fundraising for causes, according to her Facebook page, which includes a Jan. 11, 2020 posting in which she invited people to join her in raising money for a Mass.-based group called Community Workshops, Inc.
“CWS transforms the lives of those we serve by providing resources and guidance to individuals facing barriers to employment,” she wrote in the post. “Since our founding in 1877 we have empowered the jobless to build sustainable futures through meaningful careers in Greater Boston.”
Walshe is the wife of Brian R. Walshe, who pleaded guilty in US District Court in Boston in 2021 to scamming a Los Angeles buyer out of $80,000 by selling them two fake Andy Warhol paintings, according to court documents. Brian Walshe is currently awaiting sentencing, records show.
Quigley said Brian Walshe has been cooperating with police, and investigators currently see no connection between Ana Walshe’s disappearance and her husband’s crime.
“Not at this point,” Quigley said. “They seem to be two very separate things. And again, the husband has been very cooperative, but our main focus today is trying to locate Ana. And hopefully we can get a phone call from her, or someone that she knows ... [to] let us know that she’s okay.”
Her husband, Quigley continued, “was sleeping when she left. ... It’s not normal that she’s missing, so we automatically feel that she’s in danger by the mere fact that she’s missing. Other than that, there’s no evidence to support anything illegal.”
The FBI is assisting in the search for Walshe, but not as part of any ongoing criminal investigation, officials said.
Paul Kearney, a member of the Cohasset School Committee, said Friday that the case was distressing.
“I’m praying for the town and for her and her family,” Kearney said. “I have three children as well and I’m concerned about what the kids think. ... We are a pretty normal town [usually]. I’m sure the police department will figure this out. We have a smart and educated police department.”
This is developing story and will be updated when new information becomes available. Ivy Scott of the Globe staff and correspondent Jeremy C. Fox contributed reporting.
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