Mother remembers slain daughter on birthday

Mother remembers slain daughter on birthday
SNOHOMISH, Wash. -- The Christmas Eve killings of a family at a Carnation home cast a dark cloud over what should have been a joyous birthday on Wednesday.

Pam Mantle hasn't talked about her murdered daughter, son-in-law and his parents, and her grandchildren since they were shot to death on Dec. 24 of last year. But Mantle chose to speak up on her daughter's birthday so that memories of her family are not overshadowed by the gruesome tragedy.

Six members of the Anderson family were killed inside a home on Christmas Eve. Michelle Anderson and her boyfriend Joe McEnroe confessed to shooting and killing them. Prosecutors believe a long-standing bitterness and a perceived family debt may have been factors.

Three generations of the Anderson family were killed, including Mantle's daughter Erica Anderson, her husband Scott and her children -- 5-year-old Olivia and 3-year-old Nathan.

On Wedneday Erica would have turned 33.

"(Today) would've been a shopping day," Mantle said, remembering how her daughter made Bell Square Mall a birthday tradition. "She loved birthdays."

Instead, Mantle sat at home, flipping through her first-born's photo albums.

"I'm really glad we have them," she said. But the pictures are a poor substitute for the daughter she misses so badly.

"You don't think you'd go through dealing with such a huge loss," she said. "She was so much a part of our family."

Mantle misses the daily calls from her daughter who had married her high school sweetheart and had grown to love being a mother.

"I am angry because I think it was senseless," she said.

Little Nathan was just learning to talk, Mantle remembers.

"The way his eyes lit up..." she said as she looked at his picture.

And his sister Olivia's toys now sit still in the yard of her empty home.

"I just really find comfort in just being in Olivia's room," Mantle said.

The loss is still raw and very painful for Mantle. She isn't ready to part with her family's ashes or read the details of their deaths inside the Andersons' home.

"There isn't a minute of the day I don't think about them," she said.

But on her daughter's day, Mantle decided to do something special. Erica's family released balloons to let Erika know she's remembered on her birthday.

In January Michelle Anderson and McEnroe, both 29, pleaded not guilty to six counts of aggravated first-degree murder.

According to prosecutors, Judy Anderson was wrapping presents for her family on Christmas Eve, when gunfire erupted in her living room and her own daughter began a bloodbath that left Anderson and five other members of her family dead.

She ran into the room and saw her daughter's boyfriend shoot her husband of 38 years, Wayne, prosecutors alleged. Judy started screaming and Joe McEnroe turned his gun on her. She fell to the floor, not yet dead. McEnroe apologized and shot her again, this time in the head, according to a police affidavit.

After killing her parents, Anderson and McEnroe, burned some of the evidence in a backyard fire pit, reloaded their weapons and waited for Michele's brother and his family to arrive.

When Scott Anderson, 32, walked in the door, he spotted his sister with a gun and charged her. Michele Anderson and McEnroe shot him multiple times. Michele then shot her sister-in-law, Erica, 32, who still managed to climb over a couch and call 911.

According to the affidavit, McEnroe then killed the Anderson's young children, 5-year-old Olivia and 3-year-old Nathan.

The King County prosecutor is considering the death penalty against the couple.