In the days after Gretchen Anthony was last seen alive, those who knew the 51-year-old Florida woman reported receiving strange text messages from her claiming she had COVID-19.
But Jupiter police could never find any evidence that Anthony had ever been treated at any of the area hospitals and have arrested her estranged husband for murder instead.
David E. Anthony was apprehended in New Mexico on March 31 and is now facing charges of second-degree murder and kidnapping in what authorities believe was a homicide, according to a statement from Jupiter Police.
Investigators believe Gretchen was killed on March 21—days before witnesses began to receive the strange text messages. She was last seen on March 20.
The text messages sent from Gretchen’s phone to her friends and family allegedly began on March 23 and claimed that Gretchen had tested positive for COVID-19, according to an arrest report obtained by Oxygen.com.
One message claimed that she was at Jupiter Medical Center with an “acute” case of COVID-19 and was being transferred to a Centers for Disease Control approved task force in Belle Glade, according to the report. But there was no CDC center in Belle Glade.
The witness who received that message had once been David’s friend, and said certain aspects of the message seemed more like the way David would communicate rather than Gretchen. The witness also had access to Gretchen’s home and went into the residence with the police to look for the missing woman. However, authorities weren't able to find any sign of her.
At that time, police entered her into their system as a missing or endangered adult.
Then on March 26, another witness reported receiving a message from Gretchen’s phone claiming that Gretchen was being put on a ventilator.
Police found Gretchen’s vehicle, a blue mini Cooper, in the parking lot of the Jupiter Medical Center with her purse still inside, but the hospital had no records of Gretchen being a patient recently. Surveillance footage also showed a tall male getting out of the car and walk away, according to the report.
Police went back to Gretchen’s home to further investigate and found some disturbing clues inside the home.
On the kitchen counter, they found two bottles of cleaner and a rag. Nearby in the washing machine, they found towels covered in a “reddish substance ... that appeared to be blood” and broken glass and droplets of blood in the master bedroom of the home, according to the police report.
A neighbor also asked police if they were there to investigate “the attack that occurred Saturday morning.”
That neighbor reported hearing a “blood-curdling scream” between 6 a.m. and 6:20 a.m. on March 21 coming from Gretchen’s home. She also heard a woman yelling “No! No it hurts,” according to WPEC. The neighbor went out to investigate, but the screams had stopped. She saw a black truck backed into the driveway running and took a picture of it. She took another photo of the truck’s license plate later in the day when the witness saw it parked along the roadway. The license plate number matched David Anthony's, police said.
A second neighbor also reported hearing the screams early Saturday morning. And another neighbor reported that when he was leaving for work Monday morning he noticed water “mixed with an unknown chemical” coming out of the garage door of Gretchen’s home and pooling in the alley.
Gretchen and David were still married at the time she disappeared; however, Gretchen had filed for divorce on Feb. 28 and the couple were living apart.
One witness reportedly told police that David had claimed in text messages that he saw Gretchen randomly the same morning neighbors heard the scream, but said she had told him she was “going to the beach to ground herself because she wasn’t feeling well,” according to the report.
During their search of Gretchen’s home, a cadaver dog detected decomposition and also pointed investigators toward a large, wet bleach stain on the floor of the garage.
Police were able to track Gretchen’s phone, along with David’s, to Texas after she disappeared; both phones had been hitting off the same cellular phone towers.
Investigators also found two witnesses who reported a man matching David’s description tried to sell a bag of jewelry, including a David Yurman ring that had been linked to Gretchen.
David was later apprehended in Las Cruces, New Mexico after authorities received a tip that he may be in the area, according to the Las Cruces Sun News.
He was taken into custody at a gas station by the New Mexico State Police’s fugitive apprehension team and is currently being held in a detention center there while he awaits extradition.
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