Michele Anderson was found guilty Friday of six counts of aggravated first-degree murder in the killings of six members of her family during a Christmas Eve gathering in Carnation eight years ago, a verdict that will send the 37-year-old to prison for the rest of her life.

Share story

If Pam Mantle had her way, Michele Anderson would now be facing a death sentence after being found guilty Friday of killing six members of the Anderson family — including Mantle’s daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren — on Christmas Eve 2007.

Mantle had spoken to her daughter, Erica Anderson, just before Erica, her husband, Scott, and their two children left their home in Black Diamond to drive to Scott’s parents’ house in Carnation to celebrate the holiday.

Mantle’s grandchildren were finally old enough to understand what Christmas was all about, and Erica was excited to spend Christmas Eve with her in-laws, “who were wonderful people,” Mantle said.

The family gathering turned into a bloodbath when Michele Anderson and her former boyfriend, Joseph McEnroe, first opened fire on Anderson’s parents, Wayne and Judy Anderson, cleaned up their blood, then waited for Scott and Erica Anderson to arrive with their children. They, too, were shot.

Mantle said she continues to be haunted by thoughts that her loved ones “spent the last 15 minutes of their lives in complete and utter terror of those two horrible people.”

“I wished she had had to face the death penalty because I wanted her to feel the terror of losing her life,” she said of Anderson, 37. “On the other hand, this worked and she’s not going to see sunshine.”

A King County jurors had deliberated for about a day and a half before reaching the verdict just after they returned from lunch.

The jury of seven women and five men also returned special verdicts, finding two aggravating circumstances: that the deaths were part of a common scheme or plan and that three of the victims — Anderson’s sister-in-law, niece and nephew — were killed to eliminate witnesses.

Anderson walked into court with her head down and her face veiled by her long brown hair, then sat quietly as the verdicts were read and Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell polled the jurors.

Members of the jury left the courthouse without speaking to the media.

Almost a year ago, a different King County jury deliberated for a day and a half before finding McEnroe guilty of aggravated murder for his role in the six murders. He was spared the death penalty and was instead sentenced to six life terms.

Anderson, too, had faced the possibility of execution, but that changed in July when King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg announced his office would no longer seek the death penalty against her.

Now life in prison without the possibility of release is the only possible punishment for Anderson. No sentencing date has been set.

“She was resigned. She knew it — it seemed like she did,” Colleen O’Connor, one of Anderson’s defense attorneys, said of her reaction to the verdicts. “For what it’s worth, Michele has been remorseful.”

O’Connor said Anderson is severely mentally ill and refused to speak or work with her defense team or consent to mental-health evaluations that would have enabled her attorneys to put on a mental defense before jurors.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Scott O’Toole — who prosecuted both McEnroe and Anderson — said the murders were “a tragedy of almost unspeakable dimension” since two young children were among the victims and in all, three generations of one family “was wiped out.”

The jury heard testimony from 38 witnesses called by the state over roughly five weeks in what was largely a repeat of McEnroe’s trial. Anderson’s defense team rested its case without calling any witnesses, although Anderson briefly considered testifying.

Prosecutors alleged the motive for the murders was “pure, unadulterated greed.”

The slayings took place during a holiday gathering at the home of Anderson’s parents, Wayne and Judy Anderson, ages 60 and 61. At the time, Anderson and McEnroe were living in a mobile home on her parents’ five-acre lot near Carnation.

Around 4 p.m., Anderson and McEnroe drove to her parents’ house, where McEnroe distracted Judy Anderson in a backroom while Anderson confronted her father, who was fatally shot moments before his wife was gunned down in their kitchen, O’Toole told jurors.

Their bodies were dragged to a shed in their backyard, and Anderson and McEnroe spent the next hour mopping up the blood with towels, jurors heard.

When Anderson’s brother, Scott Anderson; his wife, Erica; and their two children, 5-year-old Olivia and 3-year-old Nathan, arrived at the house, Erica, 32, took off her shoes and Scott, also 32, sank into his usual spot at the end of the couch, O’Toole told the jury.

The family of four was gunned down in the living room, but not before Erica Anderson managed to dial 911, a call that was quickly disconnected, O’Toole told jurors.

Michele Anderson walked down the driveway and locked a gate, which effectively turned away two deputies who responded to the 911 hang-up call.

Two days later, one of Judy Anderson’s co-workers discovered the bodies when she went to the property after Anderson had failed to show up for work at the Carnation post office, the jury was told.

Three hours after King County sheriff’s deputies were summoned, Michele Anderson and McEnroe returned to the property and claimed they had planned to get married in Las Vegas but got lost and headed back home instead, O’Toole told jurors.

Michele Anderson didn’t ask why so many police vehicles were at the home or if her family was safe, and eventually blurted out, “It’s all my fault,” O’Toole recounted.

According to detectives, the couple provided lengthy confessions and Anderson directed them to a bridge where they had tossed their guns into the Stillaguamish River, the jury was told.

In her taped confession that was played for jurors, Anderson admitted that she had planned the killings for two weeks because she was “tired of everybody stepping on” her.

Anderson was angry with her brother for refusing to pay back $40,000 she said he borrowed over the years, O’Toole said.

She was also angry at her parents for taking her brother’s side and for asking that she and McEnroe start paying rent after living rent-free for a year in the mobile home.