Prosecutors: Woman, boyfriend admit killing 6 family members

Prosecutors: Woman, boyfriend admit killing 6 family members »Play Video
Michele Anderson (left, in 1997 Cedarcrest High School yearbook photo) and Joseph McEnroe.
SEATTLE (AP) - A woman and her boyfriend confessed to methodically gunning down her parents, her brother and sister-in-law, and then her 6-year-old niece and 3-year-old nephew in a Christmas Eve slaughter in rural Carnation, according to court papers filed Thursday.

Michele Anderson, 29, and Joseph Thomas McEnroe, 29, were ordered held without bail after an initial court hearing Thursday. Formal charges had not yet been filed, but both were arrested Wednesday for investigation of six counts of homicide, and King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg scheduled a news conference for 10:30 a.m. Friday to discuss the case.

In flat, unemotional prose, sheriff's Detective John Pavlovich described the horrific killings outlined by McEnroe.

First, Pavlovich wrote, the couple shot her parents, Wayne and Judy Anderson, using large-caliber pistols, and dragged the bodies to a shed. A short time later, the dead couple's son, Scott, his wife, Erica, their son, Nathan, and daughter, Olivia, arrived for a Christmas Eve visit.

"Knowing that Scott and his family were potential witnesses, Joe and Michele shot them," Pavlovich wrote. "Joe shot Scott with the 9mm (once); he then shot Erica at least (once) with the 9mm and then turned his attention to Olivia and Nathan. He shot them both in the head (once), killing them."

Both McEnroe, a clerk at a suburban Target store, and Anderson, who was unemployed, confessed to authorities, court documents said. Anderson said both of them shot her parents, brother and sister-in-law, while McEnroe killed the children, according to a separate affidavit. Neither document gives a motive for the deaths.

McEnroe and Anderson, who had been together for six years, lived in a trailer about 200 yards from her parents' house.

The court documents indicate the couple tried to flee to Canada after the killings, but returned to the scene the following day for some reason, where they were detained and confessed.

Both defendants waived their right to appear before King County District Court Judge Mark Chow.

McEnroe appeared briefly in the courtroom, with disheveled brown hair, dressed in a white jumpsuit, but then left with his attorney, who came back and said he waived his right to appear.

The county prosecutor's office expects to have a decision regarding charges Friday.

Michele Anderson's attorney, public defender George Eppler, said he spoke with her briefly before the hearing.

"She was bearing up well. She was speaking to me with ... some stoic forbearance. She asked the appropriate questions that showed keen insight," asking about the next legal steps in the case, Eppler said.

When asked if she admitted guilt, Eppler said, "We limited our conversation solely to the issue of today's court appearance."

McEnroe's mother, Sean Johnson of Minneapolis, said she hasn't had much contact with McEnroe since he cut ties with his family after a dispute over money. She says she can't believe what police have told her about his involvement.

She wants to believe the victim's daughter was behind it all. She says her son didn't seem to be capable of doing this.

"He was very passive person. He doesn't like to get into arguments," said Shawn Johnson. "He would tell his brother, brothers to calm down and to fear people."

She said her son 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.

The victims were discovered at the elder Andersons' rural home near Carnation, about 25 miles east of Seattle, on Wednesday morning by a co-worker of Judith Anderson, who was worried when she did not show up for her job at the Post Office.

A relative, Ben Anderson, 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.

A family friend, Mark Bennett, described Wayne as a hardworking Boeing Co. engineer who liked to hunt fish and hunt, and said Judy was a Postal Service worker who "always had a smile and a happy face on her route delivering mail."

"There's nobody ever who's going to say a bad thing about them," he said.

Ben Anderson showed up in the courtroom gallery moments before his aunt and her boyfriend were scheduled to appear. He leaned on the glass door, his lips quivering and he fought back tears after McEnroe's lawyer told the judge her client was waiving his appearance.

After the hearing, Ben Anderson left the courthouse without talking to reporters.

McEnroe's attorney, Devon Gibbs, did not immediately return a call for comment Thursday.