Florida Man Accused Of Murdering Wife And Using Coronavirus Cover-Up
David E. Anthony allegedly sent texts from his estranged ex’s phone that said she was sick.
A Florida man is accused of killing his estranged wife and sending texts to her contacts that use the coronavirus as an excuse for her sudden disappearance.
Authorities have arrested and charged David Ethan Anthony, 43, with kidnapping and second-degree murder in connection with the disappearance of Gretchen Anthony, who was last seen alive at her home on Mar. 20, the Jupiter Police Department wrote in a Facebook post.
On Mar. 26, officers responded to a missing person’s report after someone close to Gretchen Anthony, 51, grew concerned about a “suspicious text message” she received several days earlier, according to an arrest warrant obtained by West Palm Beach’s WPEC-TV.
In the message, Gretchen Anthony told the witness she had contracted COVID-19 and was placed in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s care after going to Jupiter Medical Center. The witness said she never heard from her again.
Police found the missing woman’s Mini Cooper — with her purse inside — parked at Jupiter Medical Center. Security video allegedly shows the vehicle arriving at the hospital and a “taller white male” exiting the driver’s side. Gretchen Anthony’s car was there, but staff told detectives she was never checked into their system, the arrest report reads.
A second witness, a friend of Gretchen Anthony’s estranged husband, came forward and told authorities about a text he received on Mar. 24. According to that witness, Gretchen Anthony purportedly wrote that she was suffering an “acute” case of coronavirus and was “sedated” at a CDC-approved center in Belle Glade. Investigators determined the center did not exist.
The second witness noted that Gretchen Anthony’s texts used language more similar to her husband’s than her own.
A message sent on Mar. 26 from the missing woman’s phone to another contact said she was on a ventilator at Palms West Hospital, but police determined she was not at that healthcare facility either.
Investigators got a break in the case when they canvassed Gretchen Anthony’s neighborhood for leads.
WPEC-TV, citing the arrest warrant, reported one of Gretchen Anthony’s neighbors told police she heard a “blood-curdling scream” shortly after 6 a.m. on Mar. 21. According to the neighbor, she could hear a woman yelling, “No! No, it hurts!”
Two days after the incident, according to law enforcement, another neighbor noticed water “mixed with an unknown chemical” flowing from Gretchen Anthony’s closed garage. A third neighbor handed over surveillance footage to investigators that allegedly shows what appears to be David Anthony’s black Nissan Frontier coming and going from his estranged wife’s residence.
“As the investigation progressed and further evidence collected, it is believed David E. Anthony is responsible for [Gretchen Anthony’s] disappearance and related homicide, which was determined to have occurred on March 21, 2020,” the JPD wrote on Facebook.
Police noted in the arrest report that a cadaver dog later "displayed a positive indication at a particular location of the floor in the garage" of Gretchen Anthony’s home, a sign she may have died there. Among other potential evidence, detectives allegedly discovered a smashed frame and what appeared to be blood on a wall in the master bedroom and on towels in a washing machine.
On March 31, law enforcement located Gretchen Anthony’s ex in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
“While processing his vehicle for evidence, a cadaver dog also alerted on David’s truck,” according to the JPD.
David Anthony is being held without bail at New Mexico’s Doña Ana County Detention Center while awaiting extradition to Palm Beach County.
Gretchen Anthony’s body has yet to be found.
Read more: NBC News