Michele Kristen Anderson and her boyfriend, Joseph McEnroe, armed themselves with handguns on Christmas Eve and walked 200 yards from the...
Michele Kristen Anderson and her boyfriend, Joseph McEnroe, armed themselves with handguns on Christmas Eve and walked 200 yards from the mobile home where they lived to her parents’ house, determined to kill them, according to court documents released Thursday.
About an hour later, the couple had completed one of the region’s worst slayings in recent years, killing six members of Michele Anderson’s family in a crime motivated by money, family strife and a concern over leaving behind witnesses, according to the King County Sheriff’s Department, relatives and court documents. Among the dead were Michele’s niece and nephew, ages 6 and 3.
Details of the shootings were contained in a probable-cause statement released Thursday by King County prosecutors shortly after a judge denied bail for Michele Anderson and McEnroe, both 29. Both are expected to face murder charges today, prosecutors said.
King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg is considering filing aggravated- murder charges, which could result in the death penalty, office spokesman Dan Donohoe said.
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According to the probable-cause report, Anderson and McEnroe told investigators that they killed the six members of her family — her parents, her brother, Scott Anderson, and his wife, Erica, and their two young children, Olivia and Nathan.
The documents don’t reveal a motive, but a financial dispute might have led to the killings, said a law-enforcement source familiar with the investigation.
The source said there was a dispute within the family over money and that Michele Anderson, who apparently had planned to start a car-customizing business with her brother, Scott, believed she was mistreated and taken advantage of by family members.
Ben Anderson, a grandson of the two oldest victims, said that he thought 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.
Sheriff’s spokesman John Urquhart spoke Thursday of several possible motives for the killings, but said neither drugs nor alcohol likely was involved.
“Money is one of the motives, but it’s certainly not the only one, from what we can tell,” he said. “We may never really fully know what they are, other than pure evil.”
The sheriff’s report spells out how police believe the killings took place.
According to the documents, at around 5 p.m. Anderson and McEnroe, who have dated for about five years, walked about 200 yards from the mobile home where they lived on her parents’ rural property, to the small white house where Wayne and Judy Anderson lived. Shortly after arriving, the report says, Anderson shot her father, 60, with a 9-mm handgun and McEnroe shot him with a .357-caliber Magnum handgun. McEnroe then shot Judith Anderson, 61, twice, according to the documents.
The suspects then dragged the bodies to a backyard shed to hide them, the report states.
Soon after, Michele Anderson’s brother, Scott, arrived with his wife and two children for a Christmas Eve dinner. McEnroe shot the couple, then shot both children in the head, according to the report.
Anderson also shot her brother and his wife, investigators believe. Scott and Erica Anderson were killed because they were potential witnesses to the slayings of Wayne and Judith Anderson, the documents say.
The bodies were discovered Wednesday by one of Judy Anderson’s co-workers, who arrived to check on her well-being after she failed to show up for work as a Carnation mail carrier.
The King County Medical Examiner had not released an official cause and manner of death as of Thursday night.
According to the documents, Michele Anderson and McEnroe were planning to escape to Canada when they were arrested Wednesday after showing up at the crime scene, a wooded property about 3 miles from downtown Carnation.
Urquhart said police weren’t sure why the suspects returned to the property but believe they got caught up in the traffic as they drove by. A deputy became suspicious when he stopped to talk to them as they sat in their car on the road outside Wayne and Judy Anderson’s property.
The slayings have shocked the small towns of Carnation, where Judy Anderson was a well-known mail carrier, and Black Diamond, where Scott and Erica Anderson and their children lived. Wayne Anderson was a Boeing employee.
In Carnation, the Tolt Congregational United Church of Christ opened its chapel Thursday for those who wanted to pray. “Carnation grieves,” read the sign in the front lawn.
The documents released Thursday did not yield any additional information on the timing or source of a 911 hang-up call made by someone inside the Carnation home around the time of the killings. Two sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the home, but they turned back without going up to the home or speaking to anyone after encountering a locked gate.
Urquhart said Thursday that police believe the call was made after the victims had been shot and possibly was made by Erica Anderson.
Ben Anderson was the only member of the Anderson family inside the King County Jail courtroom Thursday for a bail hearing for the two suspects. Michele Anderson and McEnroe waived their appearances at the hearing through their respective attorneys.
Ben Anderson fought back tears and peered through the courtroom’s spectator window as McEnroe briefly entered in a white ultra-security uniform, his face shaded by his shoulder-length hair, before being led out by guards.
After the hearing, defense attorneys for Michele Anderson said their client was “bearing up” in jail and was “stoic, but not emotionless,” when they spoke with her.
“She expressed the desire to know the nature of the court appearances,” and didn’t fully understand the bail hearing at first, attorney George Eppler said.
Of the potential charges against his client, which could include aggravated murder — punishable by death — Eppler would say only that the allegations were “written from one perspective, and one perspective only.”
The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is expected to make an announcement about the case, which could include filing of charges, at a news conference at 10:30 this morning.
Natalie Singer: 206-464-2704 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Seattle Times staff reporters Sara Jean Green, Jennifer Sullivan, Steve Miletich, Sonia Krishnan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.