In 2008, Ana Ljubicic Kripp was an ambitious, well-educated young woman of 25 from Belgrade, Serbia, when she met her future husband, Brian Walshe.
Ms Kripp was working at the picturesque Wheatleigh Hotel in the rural Berkshires region of Massachusetts.
Mr Walshe was the son of a prominent Boston neurosurgeon. One Serbian newspaper quoted Ms Walshe’s mother as saying she met Brian when she cleaned his apartment.
But the life they built together in a wealthy seaside suburb south of Boston, after marrying in Serbia in 2015, turned out to be toxic — with a slight A Star Is Born vibe. And now Ms Walshe is missing, with her husband charged with misleading investigators in the case.
Last March, Ana Walshe got a big new job in Washington, DC, with the real estate firm Tishman Speyer. It reportedly came with an increase in salary but meant she had to commute back and forth while her husband and kids were back in Cohasset, Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, her husband — whose LinkedIn profile lists roles at companies with little to no internet presence — was under house arrest for art fraud.
Ms Walshe may or may not have known that her husband’s cousin and two close friends of his father, Dr Thomas Walshe, have alleged in scathing court documents that Mr Walshe was estranged from most of his family because he had stolen a million dollars from his father. They claim he tried to manipulate the elderly man after a stroke to get even more money from him.
The father’s friend of more than 35 years, Jeffrey Orenstein, stated in a 2019 affidavit that he had known Mr Walshe since the age of 13. He said Mr Walshe’s father told him that the son had been a “long-term patient” at the Austin Riggs Psychiatric Centre in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and had been diagnosed as a “sociopath”.
Mr Orenstein claimed that father and son were long estranged and that when Mr Walshe was let out a few years ago, after 12 or so years of no contact, Dr Walshe turned him down.
“You’re my son and I will always hope for the best for you, but I do not want to re-engage,” Mr Orenstein quoted the father as saying: “If I did, I know that I would be letting mayhem back into my life, and I can’t have that”.
Now, Ms Walshe’s mysterious disappearance from the family home on December 31 has turned into a bloody mystery splashed all over newspapers in Belgrade and the US.
Her 47-year-old husband was charged this week with misleading investigators in the search for his wife. He’s being held on $US500,000 bond and pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Monday.
Mr Walshe was already under house arrest and awaiting sentencing for selling two fake Andy Warhol paintings on eBay for $US80,000.
Money may have been a stressor for the family.
“She is/was my landlord,” wrote Mandi Lee on Facebook, adding that her fiance had known Ms Walshe for eight years but noticed a personality change recently. Ms Walshe, it seemed, wanted Mandi and her fiance out of the home so she could sell it.
“When I refused … she got out of character and very angry,” Ms Lee wrote, “and it seemed like we were ruining her plans … She also kept telling us she and Mr Walshe would have something for us in the New Year. I’m wondering what that was. A magic act? This is so crazy. I literally spoke to her days before she went missing.”
In addition to the art fraud, Mr Walshe, who was reportedly cut out of his father’s will, raided his dad’s $US710,000 seaside home in Hull, Massachusetts, after the Patriarch’s death in India in 2018, court documents show.
According to the Daily Mail, Mr Walshe took thousands of dollars in valuable artwork by Salvador Dali and Joan Miró, as well as a car and luxury items.
The gallery owner who unwittingly bought the two fake Warhols on eBay in 2016 told reporters on Tuesday that Mr Walshe was a glib conman.
“He knows how to play the legal system, he knows how to play everyone and everything,” Ron Rivlin told the Daily Beast. “He’s very calculated.”
Mr Rivlin, owner of Revolver Gallery in Los Angeles, said Mr Walshe was initially “charismatic, articulate, transparent and professional” — but became “unreachable until I spoke to Ms Walshe at work, and later the FBI” after he sold the fake paintings.
Mr Walshe’s LinkedIn profile does not mention art dealing but instead says he is “CFO” of something called “LETS: Leadership & Effective Teamwork Strategies”, which does not seem to have much of a footprint online. The profile also shows he was the CFO of “Capital Letters Consulting,” which has little to no presence online.
Ms Walshe gushed about her husband in a letter to a federal judge last summer — expressing how much “joy” and “comfort” he brought the family and seeking leniency for him in the art fraud case, just months before he was charged in connection with her disappearance.
“During these eight months, our family was able to be together during many of the milestones,” Ms Walshe wrote, referring to the time that her husband had been on house confinement.
“Our youngest son turned one, our middle son started to speak and our eldest son who had just started kindergarten when we saw you last is now only a few weeks away from completing the year and preparing for first grade,” she wrote.
“He also lost his first tooth,” Ms Walshe added.
The 39-year-old was last seen alive on January 1 following a New Year’s Eve dinner at her Cohasset home with her husband, children and a friend.
Ms Walshe’s Instagram account features many influencer-like selfies of herself and very few photos of her husband.
Mr Walshe’s internet history indicated he searched “how to dispose of a 115-pound woman’s body” at the time of Ms Walshe’s disappearance, according to court documents.
Evidence indicating foul play in the sinister disappearance includes a bloody knife in the family’s basement and Mr Walshe’s alleged purchase of $US450 in cleaning supplies in the days after his wife vanished.
In addition, police have found a hatchet, blood, a hacksaw, trash bags, used cleaning supplies, and a rug at a transfer station in Peabody, Massachusetts, just north of Boston, near Mr Walshe’s mother’s home in Swampscott.
“She was a gorgeous woman from Serbia — I just wonder why she went for him,” said a neighbour of Mr Walshe’s mother, Diana Walshe, in Swampscott who did not want to be identified. “Nobody can figure out his game.”
Diana Walshe did not respond to a Post reporter who knocked on her door Tuesday.
Both Ms Walshe and her mother were apparently loyal to Mr Walshe, whose personal and professional history appeared to be shady in the extreme, according to court documents.
Ms Walshe’s mother, Milanka Ljubicic, also wrote to the judge a letter on her son-in-law’s behalf. The two women praised Mr Walshe for helping save Ms Ljubicic’s life when she had a brain aneurysm in 2021.
But Ms Walshe’s mother had a sudden reason to worry on Christmas.
She told Fox News that she got a message from her daughter on December 25, begging her to visit the next day.
“She just said, ‘Please, Mama. Come tomorrow,’” Milanka Ljubicic said in an interview conducted on Monday in Belgrade. “Which means that clearly, there must have been some problems”.
This story appeared in the New York Post and is reproduced with permission.
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