Oct. 30, 2008 -- A Long Island, N.Y., man who made emotional pleas for help in finding his missing wife has admitted to killing her after a heated argument, Nassau County police said today.
William Walsh confessed yesterday afternoon to choking his wife, Leah Walsh, a 29-year-old special education teacher, and to dumping her body in a wooded area on the property of the North Hills Country Club, Det. Vincent Garcia told ABCNews.com
Walsh, also 29, was arraigned this morning on second-degree murder charges and held without bail, according to the district attorney's office.
Walsh's lawyer, Karl Seman, said his client was not guilty and signed the confession only after he was "psychologically coerced" by hours of interrogation and sleep deprivation.
"This was a rush to judgment to quiet the intense pressure the police were under to make an arrest quickly," said Seman, who criticized police for arresting Walsh before receiving the medical examiner's report.
Leah Walsh's abandoned car, broken down with a flat tire, was found on the side of a Long Island, N.Y., road Monday morning after she failed to show up for work. For days afterward, her husband publicly pleaded for help in the search for his wife.
Police said today that when her car was first spotted Monday morning, a witness saw a person crouching near the car's front passenger tire. The person ran back to a yellow car and drove away, the witness told police. According to Garcia, William Walsh owns a yellow Mustang.
Garcia said Walsh told investigators he got into an argument with his wife early Sunday morning after returning from a trip to Atlantic City. He said the fight escalated into a physical confrontation and that Walsh killed Leah Walsh sometime on Sunday.
Garcia said Walsh left his wife's body in the house while he ran errands, including having his laundry done and eating at a local McDonald's, before dumping the body Sunday night.
Walsh left his wife's car along the side of the road Monday morning and set up the scene to look like a possible robbery, according to Garcia. Leah Walsh's purse was found in a ditch near her car.
Walsh went back later that morning for unknown reasons, Garcia said, and was seen by a witness.
Howard Hirschel, Leah Walsh's father, spotted his daughter's car on Monday morning as he drove to work. He called William Walsh, who then called 911, according to police.
William Walsh told reporters Tuesday that his wife sent him a text message early Monday, a few hours before the car was spotted, telling him to "have a great day," according to WABC-TV. That was the last he heard from her, he said.
"You can have my cars. You can have everything," he said outside his in-laws' house in Rockville Centre. "I just want my wife back."
The New York Daily News reported that Lucas Bean, a close friend of Leah Walsh, said Leah was distraught after a "blowup" with her husband Saturday.
Bean said Leah Walsh sent him a text message on Saturday. "She was telling me that things are not going to work out with her and her husband, and she had to tell me something very important, but she needed to wait till she got out of the car with him," he said, according to the Daily News.
William Walsh's grandfather, also named William, told ABCNews.com on Wednesday that Leah, a teacher at the School for Language and Communication Development in Glen Cove, is "a wonderful little lady in all respects. A pleasure to be with."
Hirschel declined to comment Wednesday, telling ABCNews.com, "I'm really just not up to talking."