Abington thrust again into true crime spotlight

Norfolk County prosecutors say accused murderer Brian Walshe made at least two stops in Abington in the days after his wife disappeared.

Surveillance footage captured at one of the sites shows Walshe lugging a heavy bag toward a dumpster, Assistant District Attorney Lynn Beland told a Quincy District Court Judge on Wednesday. However, the dumpster’s contents were emptied and incinerated before police could investigate.

The case has grabbed international attention as it’s steadily expanded from a missing persons case involving an attractive mother of three from a high-income suburb to a likely example of spousal homicide committed by a shyster husband with a poor understanding of digital fingerprints. The tragedy has also left three children without their parents and a host of family and friends reeling.

For Abington, it’s the third time in a generation that a murderer has randomly turned the town into a high-profile crime scene.

“I don’t know why they choose Abington to dump all their bad news, but it does seem we get caught up in it,” said Ann Reilly, a lifelong Abington resident.

According to a timeline the assistant district attorney presented during Wednesday’s hearing, Walshe’s phone placed him at an unnamed Abington apartment complex on Jan. 3 at 4:27 p.m. Footage from the complex’s surveillance system showed Walshe stopping his car near a dumpster and walking over what appears to be a large garbage bag. Beland said that the bag “appears to be heavy” and that Walshe had to “heft it into the dumpster.”

Walshe’s phone also pegged him at a second Abington apartment complex at 4:48 p.m. Surveillance footage has him later disposing of more bags at a location in Brockton.

Abington News has not been able to confirm which apartment complexes Walshe visited. Abington Police Chief David Del Papa declined to comment, referring all questions to investigators at the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office.

“My understanding is that this is still an active State Police investigation,” Del Papa said.

Abington Town Manager Scott Lambiase said to his knowledge the town’s police department has not been asked to join the growing investigation, nor have investigators descended en masse on any sites in town.

Beland said the dumpsters at the apartment complexes had been collected, transported to the SEMASS site in Rochester, and incinerated before investigators could sift through the refuse.

Abington’s social media pages, which typically feature posts from residents noting or asking about police activity, lack any eyewitness accounts of state police investigators conducting searches at apartment properties over the past week.

Investigators did find bags at a transfer station near Walshe’s mother’s Swampscott apartment complex that contained blood-splattered towels, gloves, and slippers, a Tyvek protective suit, a hacksaw and cutting shears, and Ana Walshe’s COVID-19 vaccine card. Beland told the judge Wednesday that the materials found in Swampscott had both Ana and Brian Walshe’s blood on them. Beland also read a series of damning Google searches Brian Walshe allegedly conducted such as “how to embalm a body,” and “10 ways to dispose of a dead body if you really need to.”

Last enforcement officials and prosecutors from Massachusetts and New Hampshire walk up Chestnut Street in October 2021 to announce the body of Elijah Lewis had been found.

Walshe pleaded not guilty to murder Wednesday and is being held without bail.

This is sadly not the first time Abington has been chosen as a disposal site by a murderer.

In October 2021, investigators swarmed along Chestnut Street looking for the body of a missing 5-year-old New Hampshire boy. He was found by a police dog in a shallow grave along the wooded corridor on the edge of Ames Nowell State Park. His mother has been charged with first-degree murder; her boyfriend pleaded guilty this past September to manslaughter and other charges. There’s been no explanation given why the New Hampshire couple chose Abington for a burial site.

Back in 2001, Gary Sampson tied a 19-year-old Kingston man to a tree in the woods behind a restaurant on Bedford Street and killed him as part of a multi-state robbery and murder spree. Sampson grew up in Abington but hadn’t lived in the town for years. Sampson pleaded guilty in federal court to his crimes and was sentenced to death. He died in prison in 2021.

Although Walshe grew up in the region, he has no apparent ties to Abington and there’s been no theory given why he allegedly also chose the small town as a disposal site. 

In addition, an Abington police officer is being investigated for a possible inappropriate relationship with a Stoughton woman while he was employed in a non-police role in that town. The woman, who had been taken advantage of by multiple Stoughton Police officers and was reportedly pregnant by one of them, took her own life in 2021.

Abington residents said their thoughts and hearts immediately go out to the family and friends of the victims of these crimes. The town held a vigil for Lewis in the days after he was discovered. 

However, residents are also wondering why this bedroom community of 17,000 again has been pulled into the middle of a vicious crime that originated outside its borders.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Michele Christian, who like Ana Walshe, is a mother of three, in addition to a stepdaughter.

Despite being just 10 square miles, Abington is home to four state highways. Routes 18 and 58 run north/south through the length of town, while routes 123 &139 run east/west.

“We’re the town everybody has to drive through to get somewhere else,” said Reilly.

Residents interviewed said its frustrating that Abington at times is known more for these crimes than its community spirit, arts events, athletic accomplishments, or student achievements. 

Heidi Hernandez, a mother of three and member of the School Committee,  said the town, unfortunately, learned long ago how to close ranks and support those in need during a time of tragedy.

“At the end of the day we are a close-knit town who has developed a reputation for ‘doing tough things well.’ These aren’t the things that define us, but unfortunately these tough things seems to be finding us more and more often,” she said. “We just need to keep creating good so we aren’t largely defined by having a good response to bad things.”

Christian, who chairs the Abington Celebrates committee, which coordinates multiple community events every year, said the group feels driven to make sure residents can come together and celebrate the good.

“We are living in very different, difficult and tragic times and it’s so important especially now as a community and as individuals to take care of one another,” she said. 

“Fortunately,  our Abington community does a great job of that.  We look after one another during the tough and unthinkable times and celebrate the good.”

Hernandez said she told her daughters its important to look beyond the headlines and appreciate the less noticeable moments.

“[It] is easy to overlook the truly beautiful little places and moments that surround us daily,” she said.  “Those things rarely make the headlines but we have them in spades.”

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