BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Ana Walshe’s mother is hopeful her daughter is still alive and “just can’t believe” her husband Brian Walshe did the disturbing Internet searches related to murders and dismemberments that prosecutors have revealed. in court on Wednesday, he told NBC News.
“I think she just went somewhere, to run away, maybe she was tired of everything… It’s just my guess. I still don’t know the truth about what happened,” Milanka Ljubicic, 69, said from her home. . in Belgrade, Serbia on Thursday.
“I just hope she’s alive. Anywhere but alive. That’s my only hope,” she added about her daughter.
Ljubicic’s comments come a day after prosecutors said Brian Walshe, 47, did an Internet search on December 27 for “what is the best state to divorce a man” and that “rather than divorce, Brian Walshe is believed to have dismembered Ana Walshe.” and discarded her body,” said Norfolk County Assistant District Attorney Lynn Beland.
Brian Walshe has pleaded not guilty to murder and deception charges in an investigation, and is being held without bail pending arraignment.
His attorney, Tracy Miner, said in a statement released Wednesday that the media “have already tried and convicted Mr. Walshe” and that “we will see if the prosecution can” prove its case against his client.
Ana Walshe’s remains have not been fully recovered, but history shows that a defendant can be charged and convicted of murder without a body, as long as there is enough circumstantial evidence for a jury to infer that the victim is dead and the defendant is guilty. .
Beland said in court on Wednesday that investigators found the couple’s DNA, along with a Covid vaccination record for Ana Walshe, 39, and a hacksaw, shears, an ax and blood stains. in garbage bags that had been disposed of in a dumpster in Brian. Walshe’s mother’s apartment complex in Swampscott, about 40 miles north of Cohasset, where they lived. Investigators found those items and others after they were moved to a waste transfer station in Peabody, a town about 5 miles north of Swampscott.
Investigators also found blood and a bloody and damaged knife in the basement of the couple’s Massachusetts home, and an extensive and disturbing Internet search history linked to Brian Walshe, who Googled queries including “10 ways to get rid of from a dead body if you really need it.” and “how to keep a body from decomposing” in the minutes before he originally told police he last saw his wife.
Of the search history that prosecutors detailed in court on Wednesday, Ljubicic said: “Yes, I’ve seen it, of course it bothered me, but I just don’t believe in it. Because, Brian was never aggressive, he was never angry or furious. , God forbid. I just can’t believe it.”
‘I always thought well of him’
Ljubicic added that her daughter “never complained about her husband, ever,” saying she spent a total of 16 months with the couple on three international visits.
“I always thought well of him,” he said. “He was always in a good mood, he told jokes, he was the main cook in the house, he always made us food.”
Ljubicic also claimed that Brian Walshe saved his life when he visited the US in 2021 and “had some health issues.”
He did not elaborate, but in a May 2022 letter he sent to the Massachusetts District Court before Brian Walshe’s sentencing in a wire fraud case, he wrote that he “found me experiencing what he thought was a stroke.” and “he immediately grabbed my daughter and called emergency services.” (Court documents show Brian Walshe was ordered to turn over $225,000, but he does not appear to have been sentenced to any prison terms in that case.)
“I can safely say that without his presence I would not have survived,” Ljubicic wrote in the letter, adding that he “continued to care for me during my recovery at home.”
Ljubicic told NBC News that he “absolutely adored Ana, just the way she is, and said many times that he missed her so much while he was away from work.”
“From what I know, everything was fine between them,” he said.
He added that he was unaware that his daughter accused Brian Walshe of threatening to kill her in 2014, before they were married, according to a report filed with Washington DC police obtained by NBC Washington. The report did not identify Brian Walshe by name, but an agency spokesman confirmed that he was the person accused of threatening Ana Walshe over the phone. No charges were filed and the case was closed due to the victim’s lack of cooperation, according to the spokesperson.
“I didn’t know it at the time, I’ve seen it recently in the media,” Ljubicic said of that alleged threat. “After that they got married, they had children… I don’t know what to say. I had no knowledge about it at all.”
He also claimed he had “no idea” that a family friend described Brian Walshe as a “sociopath” and a “very angry and physically violent person” in a bitter court battle over his father’s estate after of his 2018 death in which friends and family accused Brian Walshe of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars of his father’s money. Ljubicic learned of those accusations from recent news reports, he said.
Living arrangements were a source of conflict.
A point of contention between the couple, Ljubicic admitted, was over their living arrangements.
The couple’s base of operations was in Cohasset, a wealthy suburb of Boston. But Ana Walshe traveled to Washington, DC, more than 400 miles south, every week for her job at Tishman Speyer, a real estate company where she was a regional general manager. Cohasset police previously said the couple also had a residence in DC.
Ana Walshe loved her job, according to her mother, but hated being away from her three children, ages 2, 4 and 6, but the family could not move to DC because in October 2021 Brian Walshe received a home confinement order and did not leave the state of Massachusetts after pleading guilty to three counts in the wire fraud case six months earlier.
“He was annoyed by the fact that they had to stay [in Cohasset] because in Washington DC they had better living conditions, and she couldn’t get by without [her] children for so long,” Ljubicic said. “They were hoping that this legal process around Brian would only last a couple of months, and that they could be together. But it went on for a year or so.”
But still, Ljubicic said she was “not worried at all” about her daughter’s safety or her relationship with her husband.
“We didn’t talk on the phone every day, because she worked a lot, but we exchanged text messages. And for me, those texts were enough,” she said.
One such text message came on Christmas Day, when Ana Walshe asked her mother, “Mom, can you come tomorrow?” Ljubicic said.
“I told her: ‘Anci, I can’t prepare for tomorrow, let’s try the day after tomorrow,’” she said, using a nickname or endearment for ‘Ana.’
Ljubicic ended up not coming to the United States because he told his daughter that it would be more convenient for her to come in January and stay for two months. Ana Walshe responded by saying that she and her husband had “plans” for February, though it’s unclear what that meant.
“After the first text message, when he asked me to come on time, I asked why the urgency. She responded that she and Brian don’t get along with the kids, where the kids hang out, whether it’s Boston, Cohasset, or Washington, DC, where they have a home,” Ljubicic added.
“I understood that they were trying to make an arrangement to live together… About what happened that night, I have no idea,” he said, adding that he has not received “any official news” from Serbian or American officials about what happened.
Serbia’s acting consul general in New York did not immediately respond to a query.
On New Year’s Eve, Ana Walshe called her mother, but she was sleeping and didn’t answer, Ljubicic said.
“[The next day] I sent him a text, wishing him a Happy New Year, but there was no response,” he said. “Even then I didn’t think anything bad had happened, I just wasn’t thinking in that direction.”
According to prosecutors, Ana Walshe’s phone has been turned off since it rang near the family’s Cohasset home just after 3 a.m. on Jan. 2, a day after Brian Walshe told police his wife went out. from the house to catch a flight to DC from Logan Airport. , which authorities could not confirm. There has been no activity on Ana Walshe’s credit cards since she was last seen, prosecutors said.
‘She is…very attached to her family’
A spokesperson for the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families previously told NBC News that the Walshes’ three children are in state custody and declined to provide further information, citing state and federal privacy laws.
Ljubicic said that, as far as she knows, the children are in state custody and “doing well,” adding: “I don’t know where they are exactly.”
She added that she is not capable of taking custody of the children herself, citing various health problems, including heart problems, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Ana Walshe was born in Belgrade and has dual citizenship in Serbia and the US, Olgica Vlacic, Serbia’s acting consul general in New York, previously confirmed to NBC News.
Ljubicic described her as “a really unique child, who I can say is her mother,” he said.
“She is very hardworking, skilled, very attached to her family,” Ljubicic added.
Jovana Djurovic reported from Belgrade, Serbia. Julianne McShane reported from New York.