COHASSET — As hundreds gathered on the town common to pray for Ana Walshe, the 39-year-old mother of three last seen at her home here in the early hours of Jan. 1, a chilling new detail emerged of her long relationship with her husband, who now is jailed for misleading police in the investigation into her disappearance.
She told police in Washington, D.C., in 2014 that Brian Walshe had threatened to kill her, according to a police report and a person briefed on the matter.
About a year before they were engaged, Ana Walshe — then Ana Knipp — told Metropolitan Police that a man threatened her during a telephone call and said “he was going to kill (her) and her friend,” according to a police report.
The report does not identify the man by name, but noted that the suspect lives in Boston. A person with knowledge of the current investigation into Walshe’s disappearance told the Globe that her now-husband, Brian R. Walshe, is the suspect identified in the report.
A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police said the case was closed after Ana Walshe declined to cooperate with the investigation, though the spokesperson could not say when that occurred.
The sudden disappearance of Walshe, a Serbian immigrant who worked at ritzy hotels and in high-end real estate, has sparked national attention. But nowhere is the void of her absence felt more deeply than in this South Shore town, where a prayer vigil was held at dusk Thursday.
Lisa Fulton, 53, said Cohasset is “a pretty small, tight-knit community,” and the disappearance has “kind of rocked our whole world.”
“It’s just very shocking,” said Deborah Wisleder, 56, a 10-year resident who attended the vigil. “Everyone in town is just so concerned about Ana’s children, and of course about Ana herself, because we don’t know what’s happened yet.”
Religious leaders took turns praying for Ana Walshe and for her children, who this week were placed into the care of the state Department of Children and Families.
“Lord our God, be with the Walshe children in this time of uncertainty, fear, and confusion,” said Jeanne Cregan, a pastoral associate at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church. said. “May you surround them with your grace, light, and confidence, that they can find strength to face the challenges and difficulties that have been thrust upon them now and in the days ahead.”
“When one of us is in trouble or is hurt, we are all touched,” said the Rev. Maggie Arnold, rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Cohasset, in her prayer for peace and comfort for the community.
“We feel isolated by fear, by grief, and that is one of the most powerful ways in which trauma can harm us: to separate us from each other, to make us feel helpless, afraid, and alone,” she said. “But we are not islands unto ourselves. We are a community, a human family, and we are created to help and support each other in friendship and love.”
Brian Walshe was recently convicted in federal court in an elaborate art forgery and fraud scheme.
Authorities have been carrying out an extensive search since Ana Walshe was first reported missing by co-workers on Jan. 4, three days after her husband told police he last saw her.
Ana Walshe relocated to Washington, D.C., from Massachusetts last year for a high-profile real estate job, and had been returning to Cohasset on weekends to be with her husband and three sons. She purchased a $1.3 million home in D.C.’s Chevy Chase neighborhood last March.
She previously lived for several years in Washington, court records show. She met Brian Walshe in 2008 at the Wheatleigh Hotel in Lenox and they had a long distance relationship for many years, before she moved to Massachusetts in 2015, according to a court filing in her husband’s fraud case.
She reported the death threat to Metro Police on Aug. 3, 2014. She said the threat came the evening prior and that it was made in a phone call, according to the document, which was first reported by Boston 25 News. The report listed her address as an apartment in the 400 block of Massachusetts Avenue NW.
Brian Walshe had also lived at that address, records show. He was sued by a debt collection company in June 2015 for owing more than $25,000 and had listed that address, according to D.C. Superior Court records.
The couple obtained their marriage license in December 2015 and married shortly after at the Church of the Covenant in Boston, according to Ana Walshe’s Facebook page.
Brian Walshe is being held on $500,000 bail. He pleaded not guilty to making false statements. He is currently awaiting sentencing in the federal fraud case.
Authorities announced this week that investigators discovered blood and a damaged, bloodied knife in the basement of the Walshes’ Cohasset home on Chief Justice Cushing Highway (Route 3A). They also said that security footage showed Brian Walshe — wearing a mask and gloves — purchasing $450 in cleaning supplies from a Rockland Home Depot shortly after Ana Walsh’s disappearance.
Authorities have also searched the Walshes’ home and surrounding wooded areas, as well as dumpsters near the Swampscott home of Brian Walshe’s mother, a transfer station in Peabody, and a waste-to-energy facility south of Boston in Wareham. Two law enforcement officials briefed on the case told the Globe that investigators recovered a hacksaw and blood evidence in trash at the Peabody transfer station.
Ivy Scott of the Globe staff contributed to this report.