A woman and her boyfriend who police said admitted to methodically gunning down her parents and four other family members in rural Washington on Christmas Eve met in Glendale, Ariz., five years ago.
Michele Anderson, 29, and Joe McEnroe, 29, met on an online dating service. They moved to Washington shortly thereafter, according to McEnroe’s mother.
They were ordered held without bail after a court appearance Thursday. The county prosecutor’s office expects to have a decision regarding charges Friday.
McEnroe and Anderson shot her parents, Wayne and Judy Anderson, using large-caliber pistols and dragged the bodies to a shed, authorities wrote in the affidavits, which were based on statements the couple gave to authorities.
A short time later, the Anderson’s son, Scott, his wife Erica, and children Olivia, 6, and Nathan, 3, arrived for a Christmas Eve visit. “Knowing that Scott and his family where potential witnesses, Joe and Michele shot them,” sheriff’s Detective John Pavlovich wrote.
Anderson told authorities both of them shot her parents, brother and sister-in-law, but McEnroe killed the children, according to the affidavit.
The couple, who had been together for six years, lived in a trailer about 200 yards from her parents’ house. After the killings, they tried to flee to Canada, court documents said, but they returned the following day and were detained.
McEnroe, who had disheveled brown hair, appeared briefly in the courtroom Thursday, but then left with his attorney, who came back and said he waived his right to appear. McEnroe’s attorney, Devon Gibbs, did not immediately return a call for comment Thursday.
Michele Anderson’s attorney, public defender George Eppler, said he spoke with her briefly. But when asked if she admitted guilt, Eppler said, “We limited our conversation solely to the issue of today’s court appearance.”
The bodies were found on a rural property that includes a house and a mobile home at the end of a long dirt road. The property is near the rural town of Carnation, about 25 miles east of Seattle.
Authorities said the bodies were found by a co-worker of one of the victims who had come to the house because Judy Anderson, who worked for the U.S. Postal Service, did not report to work.
Ben Anderson, who said he was the Anderson’s grandson, told reporters outside his grandparents’ property late Wednesday that money could have been a factor in the deaths.
“She felt she wasn’t loved enough and everyone didn’t appreciate her and she was pushed out of everyone’s life,” he said, referring to Michele Anderson.
McEnroe’s mother, Sean Johnson of Minneapolis, said she hasn’t had much contact with her son since he cut ties with his family after a dispute about money.
She said he moved to the Puget Sound region shortly after he and Michele met in Glendale, Ariz., about five years ago on an online dating site. Johnson said her son planned to marry Anderson.
She told The Seattle Times that her eldest son was a “good Christian” and she was shocked he had been arrested in the slayings.