A Florida man charged with killing his estranged wife – whose disappearance he tried to cover up by claiming she had COVID-19 – has led cops to her body as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.
David Anthony, 44, of Jupiter, pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder and kidnapping in the March disappearance of 51-year-old Gretchen Anthony, whose suspected remains were found about 3 miles from her Abacoa home after he told authorities where they could find her body, the Palm Beach Post reported.
Investigators made the find later Monday, Jupiter police told reporters.
“We hope that this will bring closure to family now that Gretchen has been located,” Jupiter Police Chief Daniel Kerr said.
Anthony will receive a 38-year prison term at his sentencing early next year under the plea deal. Had he not cooperated and told investigators where they could find his estranged wife’s remains, the agreement would’ve been voided and he would face a first-degree murder charge, the newspaper reported.
If convicted of first-degree murder, a capital felony, Anthony could have been eligible for the death sentence rather than up to life in prison for a second-degree murder conviction, Florida penal code shows.
Prosecutors said Monday’s developments gave Gretchen’s relatives a much-needed sense of closure in her slaying, including her mother and 12-year-old daughter.
“They wanted a proper memorial and burial,” State Attorney Dave Aronberg told reporters at a news conference. “[The plea] is something that provides closure, and it provides justice.”
It’s unclear how Gretchen was killed, but her remains will be sent for an autopsy, police said.
A neighbor told investigators she heard a woman “let out a blood-curdling scream” on March 21 at Gretchen Anthony’s Abacoa home. A woman then pleaded “No! No, it hurts,” according to an arrest report obtained by WPEC.
Days after the slaying, David Anthony tried to hide Gretchen’s death by sending text messages from her cellphone. One text purportedly sent by the woman claimed she was being “quarantined” for two weeks after coming down with an “acute case” of the coronavirus, WPTV previously reported.
David Anthony claimed his wife was diagnosed at the Jupiter Medical Center, where police later found her abandoned blue Mini Cooper. But hospital records showed no indication that Gretchen was treated there, the station reported.
Some 10 days after killing his wife, David Anthony was arrested roughly 1,900 miles away in New Mexico while walking his dog. His car seized as evidence after a cadaver dog found evidence of decomposition in the vehicle, the Palm Beach Post reported.
The estranged couple, who got hitched in 2015 in Nevada, filed for divorce earlier this year, court documents cited by the newspaper show.
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