A woman and her boyfriend have admitted to methodically gunning down her parents and four other family members in rural Washington on Christmas Eve, according to a police affidavit filed in court on Thursday.
Michele Kristen Anderson and Joseph McEnroe, both 29, were ordered held without bail after a Thursday court appearance. Formal charges are expected to be filed on Friday by the prosecutor, according to Sgt. John Urquhart of the King County Sheriff's Office in Seattle.
The victims included Anderson's parents, Wayne Anderson, 60, and Judy Anderson, 61, as well as their daughter, son-in-law, and the younger couple's 6-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. The bodies were discovered by a postal worker and colleague of Judy Anderson.
McEnroe and Anderson shot her parents using large-caliber pistols and dragged the bodies to a shed, authorities wrote in the affidavits, which were based on statements the suspects gave to authorities.
A short time later, the Anderson's son, Scott, his wife Erica, and children Olivia, 6, and Nathan, 3, arrived for a Christmas Eve visit. "Knowing that Scott and his family where potential witnesses, Joe and Michele shot them," sheriff's Detective John Pavlovich wrote.
After the killings, they tried to flee to Canada, court documents said, but they returned the following day and were detained.
Anderson told authorities both of them shot her parents, brother and sister-in-law, but McEnroe killed the children, according to the affidavit.
McEnroe appeared briefly in the courtroom, but then left with his attorney, who came back and said he waived his right to appear.
Michele Anderson's attorney, public defender George Eppler, said he spoke with her briefly before the hearing. But when asked if she admitted guilt, Eppler said, "We limited our conversation solely to the issue of today's court appearance."
Sean Johnson, McEnroe's mother, told ABC News that she was not able to speak with her son, but was "really shocked" by the news, which she found "surreal."
Though she had not spoken to her son in several years, the single mother of four said McEnroe — her eldest son — helped her around the house, and was the type of person who would "bend over backwards to help others."
Johnson said that McEnroe and Michele were supposed to be married two years ago, but she did not know why they did not wed. "Joey is a person who, when he sees a troubled soul, he'll help that person. Maybe that's why [he and Michele Anderson] got together," Johnson speculated.
Johnson had spoken only once on the phone with Michele, but said she "seemed like a nice girl."
According to his mother, McEnroe worked for a Target store for about three or four years while he lived in Minnesota, and then moved to work for Target in Washington state. She described his role as a manager.
A law enforcement source told the Seattle Times that investigators believe Anderson and McEnroe both shot the victims in a dispute — possibly over money. Johnson said her son did not have any issues over money. "Joey [McEnroe] knew money was important, but not life or death — when it comes, it comes. Being in a single-mom family, he knew there was always the next paycheck."
Mark Bennett, a family friend and neighbor, also said he knew of no money troubles or arguments within the Anderson family, and he described Wayne and Judy Anderson as a hardworking couple.