[This story originally aired on May 8, 2021.]
When friends and family of a Jupiter, Florida, mother began receiving texts revealing she had a serious case of coronavirus, they grew worried. But Gretchen Anthony hadn’t talked to anyone and wasn’t answering her phone. Was she really sending the text messages? Or was someone using COVID-19 to cover up her disappearance?
It was March 2020, and the COVID-19 pandemic was stretching across the country.
“This case really hit differently,” says Chrichet Mixon, an assistant state attorney for Palm Beach County. “I mean, we are talking about someone who is a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend.”
Gretchen Anthony / Credit: Facebook
And someone who seemingly vanished at a point when the world was told to stay home.
“All I wanted to do was to be able to find her,” Mixon tells “48 Hours” correspondent Peter Van Sant.
Investigators learned Gretchen had filed for divorce from her husband, David Anthony, a fitness trainer, just weeks before she disappeared.
The texts from Gretchen Anthony’s phone to friends and family began on March 23, 2020.
“Good morning. Tested positive for coronavirus early this morning. That means I have to stay here for at least two weeks …” The texts over the next couple of days described a worsening condition and admitting herself to the Jupiter Medical Center’s emergency department.
Another text claimed she was transferred to another facility run by the CDC, which didn’t exist.
After days of texts and no response by phone, Gretchen Anthony’s family and friends reached out to law enforcement and asked them to do a welfare check at her home. What police learned from a neighbor was disturbing.
“I heard a really serious woman’s scream, just screaming, like she was being attacked,” a neighbor told police.
Inside the home police noticed security cameras had been removed from the walls. They asked Anthony’s service provider to pull the video from the cloud and the images showed a man lurking on Gretchen Anthony’s patio the morning the neighbor heard the scream.
Where was Gretchen Anthony? And where was her estranged husband, David Anthony? Did he send those texts pretending to be Gretchen to cover up her murder?
Back in March 2020, friends and family of Gretchen Anthony were alarmed when they began receiving texts from her, saying she had tested positive for coronavirus.
Kelly Hanna: You know, the news is saying it’s serious. … And then all of a sudden numbers are being reported and people are dying.
It was hard for Gretchen Anthony’s friends, like Kelly Hanna, to picture her dying of anything, much less this frightening virus. At 51 years old, Gretchen was a picture of fitness.
Kelly Hanna: She worked out at the gym very hard. She took her health very seriously.
Kelly Hanna: Gretchen is someone who is tremendously heart centered … she’s just radiant and just a very caring … beautiful spirit.
But above all else, she was a devoted mother to her 12-year-old daughter. Gretchen was raising her child in Jupiter, Florida while sharing custody with an ex-husband.
Chrichet Mixon: Gretchen’s daughter was her world; she was everything to her.
Chrichet Mixon, an assistant state’s attorney for Palm Beach County, got involved in Gretchen’s case early on.
Chrichet Mixon: There was nothing that Gretchen wouldn’t do for her daughter. She hated being away from her.
After her divorce, friends say Gretchen fell in love with David Anthony. The two met at a local gym where he was a trainer.
Peter Van Sant: Was he kind of a rock star at the gym?
Kelly Hanna: Oh … he was the young hot trainer for sure.
Tabitha Hopkins: He has a huge presence.
David was a popular trainer at a gym owned by Tabitha Hopkins. She says he brought in lots of new members.
Kelly Hanna: He was intelligent, well-spoken. He was charming.
Kelly Hanna: She didn’t have to tell anybody that there was an attraction there. … There was absolute sparks, there was magic there, no question about it.
That attraction soon led to the couple getting married at an Elvis chapel in Las Vegas in 2015.
Kelly Hanna: They seemed like the happiest couple ever.
Peter Van Sant: Did you feel like she’d found the man of her dreams?
Kelly Hanna: Absolutely. … David by all appearances was a phenomenal stepparent. She called him bonus dad.
Gretchen and David Anthony on their wedding day. / Credit: Facebook
But friends say the couple’s dream life came apart in late 2019, when they separated, and David moved out of their home.
Kelly Hanna: And it kind of sounded like they both … lost themselves a little bit, and they were searching more for their own self-identity.
Now Gretchen’s inner circle was dealing with a potential life-or-death situation.
Kelly Hanna: And then all of a sudden, there’s bizarre cell phone messages.
Over several days, starting on Monday, March 23, friends and family received a series of texts from Gretchen, who said she was at home in quarantine. She sent this one to her daughter, who was staying with her ex-husband:
PETER VAN SANT [reading texts]: “Good morning. Tested positive for Coronavirus early this morning. That means I have to stay here for at least two weeks …”
Her daughter replied: “OK I really hope you get better”
Chrichet Mixon says there were multiple texts from Gretchen’s phone over the next three days, describing her deteriorating condition.
CHRICHET MIXON [reading text]: “I consulted with the virus screening hotline and admitted myself into the Jupiter Medical Center’s emergency room …”
Peter Van Sant: So. this is serious stuff. What does the family do with these texts?
Chrichet Mixon: The family finds the text messages that they’re getting from Gretchen to be worrisome, alarming.
What disturbed everyone receiving these texts is that no one — not even Gretchen’s daughter — had received a phone call from her.
Kelly Hanna: That just — there’s so many things that are so wrong.
Including texts claiming that she’d been transferred to an “off-site medical facility being run directly by the CDC” in Belle Glade, more than hour away in central Florida. But there’s a problem.
Chrichet Mixon: There is no CDC facility in Belle Glade, Florida.
Peter Van Sant: So, this text message, allegedly from Gretchen’s own phone, apparently was not sent by Gretchen.
Chrichet Mixon: It definitely was not sent by Gretchen.
Dave Aronberg, the State Attorney for Palm Beach County agrees.
Dave Aronberg: Clearly, whoever had sent those text messages were trying to take advantage of this pandemic, of the fear out there, trying to exploit the situation.
Kelly Hanna: So, things were not adding up and things were not adding up very quickly.
Chrichet Mixon: The family, along with friends, made the decision to reach out to law enforcement to do a welfare check on Gretchen Anthony.
911 CALL: I need to get help for my friend that’s missing. I don’t know how to put into words, but I know she’s in very grave danger right now.
Jupiter Police Detective Jared Kenerson caught the case on the night shift.
Det. Jared Kenerson: We reach out to the Jupiter Medical Center and they did not have a record of Gretchen Anthony being a patient at their facility during that time period.
Peter Van Sant: So, all of a sudden, this is getting serious?
Det. Jared Kenerson: Yeah, that’s a huge concern of mine.
Desperate for clues, police checked out the Jupiter Medical Center’s parking lot. They hit pay dirt.
Investigators got a break when they discovered Gretchen Anthony’s car in the parking lot of the Jupiter Medical Center. That’s where the texts said she was a patient. The hospital had no record of her being treated for Covid-19. / Credit: Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office
Chrichet Mixon: Gretchen Anthony’s Mini Cooper was recovered in the parking lot of Jupiter Medical Center.
Detective Kenerson says what they found inside Gretchen’s car was worrisome: her purse — sitting in plain sight.
Det. Jared Kenerson: I think a woman normally carries their purse with them.
Peter Van Sant: If Gretchen Anthony is not in a facility, in a hospital anywhere being treated for COVID, if she doesn’t have COVID, then where is Gretchen?
Chrichet Mixon: That was the million-dollar question. No one knew where Gretchen was.
March 26, 2020: five days had passed since anyone had seen Gretchen Anthony. Jupiter Police investigators were determined to find her, so they canvassed her neighborhood wearing body cameras, looking for clues.
They were stunned when a resident approached them to say that early on the morning of Saturday, March 21, she heard something terrifying.
NEIGHBOR: I heard a really serious woman’s scream, just screaming, like she was being attacked. … And then I heard her scream “No” and then I heard something about “it hurts, stop it.” The scream was really serious.
Peter Van Sant: Did this woman call 911?
Det. Jared Kenerson: She did not. … Some people are apprehensive about calling the police.
Peter Van Sant: When you heard that story, what are you thinking?
Det. Jared Kenerson: I’m thinking that something definitely happened at Gretchen Anthony’s home Saturday morning.
Officers became even more concerned when another neighbor told them he later noticed a soapy substance flowing from underneath Gretchen’s garage door.
At Gretchen Anthony’s home, investigators discovered a potential crime scene. Police say this image appears to show stains from a mysterious soapy substance on the driveway. / Credit: Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office
Peter Van Sant: Somebody was in there cleaning.
Det. Jared Kenerson: That’s what I take from that. … We discovered that her entrance door that leads from her patio into her garage, that door was locked, and it had the key broken off in the deadbolt.
Could Gretchen be inside? Investigators wasted no time finding out.
Chrichet Mixon: They force entry into the garage and there was no Gretchen inside. However, they noticed that there was a strong, pungent smell of a cleaning agent in the garage.
With body cameras rolling, investigators searched the home several times. They found evidence suggesting a violent struggle: a broken picture frame, shards of glass on Gretchen’s bed, and a stained towel.
As police continued to look for clues, they found a stained towel sitting on top of Gretchen Anthony’s washing machine. It later tested positive for a blood-like substance. / Credit: Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office
Chrichet Mixon: There was a piece of cloth that had what is what is referred to as BLS, a blood-like substance, on it.
They got a huge break when they discovered neighbors had taken photos of a black Nissan pickup truck parked near Gretchen’s home after the terrifying screams.
Peter Van Sant: And who owns a black Nissan pickup truck?
Det. Jared Kenerson: David Anthony.
David Anthony – Gretchen’s estranged husband.
Det. Jared Kenerson: His vehicle was there that morning.
Investigators learned from friends and family that Gretchen had filed for divorce in February 2020, and David had moved in with his mother. That’s when David’s former boss Tabitha Hopkins says he became increasingly unstable.
Tabitha Hopkins: He regressed behavior-wise, slowly became more hard to manage.
Gretchen’s family told investigators she worried about her safety after the separation and had security cameras installed throughout her home and garage.
Peter Van Sant: Who was she afraid of?
Det. Jared Kenerson: I was told that she had the cameras installed because David had returned to her home after he left.
Peter Van Sant: After they had separated?
Det. Jared Kenerson: That’s correct.
Kenerson discovered those cameras had been removed from the walls — possibly to destroy incriminating evidence. But he learned that while the cameras were gone, the images they recorded could be recovered from the cloud.
Det. Jared Kenerson: We send a search warrant to her camera provider.
Chrichet Mixon: It is believed that this could potentially be the best piece of evidence at this point that could give us some direction as to where is Gretchen Anthony?
While they waited for that crucial evidence, investigators scrambled to find out just what David Anthony knew about Gretchen’s disappearance. They went to look for him at his mother’s home, again with body cameras rolling.
SUSAN WARNER: Who is it?
DET. JOSEPH COUNIHAN: Jupiter police. Hello. Hi. Sorry to bother you.
David’s mom said she, too, had received a concerning text from Gretchen.
SUSAN WARNER: Gretchen’s been in touch with me ’cause she’s in the CDC Center. She has the virus.
DET. JOSEPH COUNIHAN: OK. What CDC center is she at?
SUSAN WARNER: I don’t know. She texted me this morning and said she was in there. I have the text, would you like to see it?
DET. JOSEPH COUNIHAN: I’d love to.
A text message sent from Gretchen Anthony’s phone. / Credit: Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office
When officers asked her where her son was, they become alarmed.
SUSAN WARNER: He had said he was going to Costa Rica.
David’s mother told them that he packed up his truck, and on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, three days after Gretchen disappeared, he grabbed his dog Kobe, and hit the road.
Chrichet Mixon: Once they know that … he is attempting to flee the country, he definitely becomes a suspect. They are very suspicious of him.
Adding to their suspicion is what they discovered on the video retrieved from the Jupiter Medical Center Parking Lot, where Gretchen’s car was found.
Chrichet Mixon: There was security footage that showed Gretchen Anthony’s MINI Cooper pulling into a parking space and there is a tall figure … walking away from her vehicle.
Chrichet Mixon: David Anthony is about 6’7″, 6’8″.
Peter Van Sant: And does that look like … somebody who could be 6’7″, 6’8″?
Chrichet Mixon: Absolutely.
Investigators were convinced David Anthony was somehow involved in Gretchen’s disappearance. Now, tracking Gretchen’s cell phone could be key to finding David.
Det. Jared Kenerson: They find that Gretchen’s phone is pinging off a tower in the area of Pensacola, Florida.
Peter Van Sant: That’s like 600 miles away.
Det. Jared Kenerson: Yes. … Her phone was on the move.
Chrichet Mixon: There’s a lot of moving parts here, right? So, we’re trying to still answer the question, where’s Gretchen Anthony? … Where is David Anthony? And so, these cell phone records become a very critical part in in locating David Anthony.
David Anthony is seen selling Gretchen’s jewelry in Jupiter, Florida. / Credit: CBS News
Investigators say phone records helped track David across Florida as he left a paper and video trail — cameras recorded him stopping at jewelry stores to sell Gretchen’s jewelry. One store owner shared a memorable conversation.
Chrichet Mixon: That he came in wanting to sell some jewelry that had been left to him by a family member that had died from COVID-19.
Peter Van Sant: COVID?
Chrichet Mixon: Yes.
Peter Van Sant: COVID strikes again in this case.
Chrichet Mixon: COVID strikes again.
Det. Jared Kenerson: And in all these videos that we were able to obtain from these different businesses, nowhere was Gretchen seen.
While David Anthony was leaving a tantalizing trail of electronic breadcrumbs, he had one huge advantage. Remember, they had learned from his mother that he was on his way to Costa Rica and could be long gone.
Chrichet Mixon: We are now operating days behind David Anthony, understanding that his intentions at this point are to leave the country.
Peter Van Sant: So, it’s now — from his perspective — catch me if you can.
Chrichet Mixon: Yes. … Now we’re on the hunt for David Anthony.
To her friend Kelly Hanna, Gretchen Anthony was someone who connected instantly with everyone she met.
Kelly Hanna: She was so radiant and just had this gentle gracefulness about her, had the most beautiful laugh.
Someone who should somehow be protected from harm.
Kelly Hanna: In a perfect world, you would hope and pray those people have angels around them to keep them safe.
But now, Gretchen had been missing for six days.
Kelly Hanna: What is going on? And why is my beautiful friend missing?
Assistant Prosecutor Chrichet Mixon knew the key to finding Gretchen was finding her estranged husband David Anthony.
She had been told David was on the run to Costa Rica and had a head start.
Chrichet Mixon: We’re trying to make up time. We’re trying to move quickly and play catch-up.
Investigators tracked Gretchen’s and David’s cell phone signals, which appeared to place both phones travelling together — heading westward across Texas.
Peter Van Sant: Now, does that suggest the two of them … may be on a trip together … that she could possibly still be alive?
Det. Jared Kenerson: It suggests that their phones are pinging together to me.
Detective Jared Kenerson didn’t know what happened to Gretchen, but feared the worst. As he waited for evidence taken from Gretchen’s home to come back from the lab, he issued a BOLO – an alert to be on the lookout for David’s black Nissan truck.
Det. Jared Kenerson: His vehicle was listed as a felony vehicle.
Investigators dug into David’s past, and what they learned was stunning.
Dave Aronberg: So, David Anthony originally was known as David Anthony Deutsch and then later changed his name to David Anthony.
Kelly Hanna: Nobody knew that. He’s local to the Palm Beach area, he went to the same high school my children went to … it was weird that nobody realized there was a difference.
Nobody realized, for instance, that as David Anthony Deutsch, a star college basketball player, he held up a Blockbuster video store armed with a squirt gun and assaulted a police officer. He reached a plea deal in each case and spent a short stint in jail.
David Anthony Deutsch was arrested in 1997 for a holdup at a Blockbuster Video store. / Credit: Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
Dave Aronberg: David Anthony has had a history of criminal conduct. … It’s not that uncommon for someone with a criminal past to try to escape that past.
Tabitha Hopkins, David’s former boss at the gym in Jupiter, had noticed something odd about David.
Tabitha Hopkins: He’s very talented and his skill level was amazing, but his moods could be high or low.
Peter Van Sant: Do you feel as though he does have this Jekyll and Hyde personality?
Tabitha Hopkins: One hundred percent.
Tabitha says he became so difficult to manage, she was forced to fire him in 2017. She gave him a second chance a few years later, but by early 2020, he was increasingly unstable.
Tabitha Hopkins: I basically said, “what’s going on? What’s wrong with you? … You are not the same person that I knew.”
Tabitha says she was forced to fire him again, and this time, she caught a glimpse of David’s frightening rage.
Tabitha Hopkins: That look I’d never seen before. He was angry.
Shaken, Tabitha texted Gretchen – at the time separated from David – with a warning: “STAY AWAY FROM HIM.”
Tabitha Hopkins: She had said that he is crazy … That’s the last time I talked to Gretchen.
That was February of 2020.
Then, a few weeks later — just seven days before Gretchen disappeared — this happened:
Riviera Beach Police body cam video:
DAVID ANTHONY: Can I get up?
FEMALE OFFICER: No! Get down!
DAVID ANTHONY: I’m standing up!
FEMALE OFFICER: Get down!
Police received a report that David was allegedly following teenaged girls at a nearby shopping center. Once again police body cameras were rolling when they approached him.
FEMALE OFFICER Get down!
With Kobe sitting quietly in the truck, David lashed out and was charged with resisting arrest.
MALE OFFICER: Stop resisting me!
MALE OFFICER: Sir! Flat on your face, hands out like an airplane!
David spent just a few days in jail. Investigators learned he posted bail and was released just three days before Gretchen disappeared. Now, as they tracked him cross country, they knew they had a volatile man on the loose – and he was being cagey.
Chrichet Mixon: He would turn on cell phones and we would be able to get a location and then he would turn cell phones off.
On March 27, 2020, David’s phone pinged in Pecos, Texas, more than 1,600 miles away from Jupiter.
The next day, David’s phone pinged in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Detective Kenerson immediately reached out to Las Cruces police for help.
Still tracking his phone – and armed with a description of the truck – Las Cruces police located David and pulled him over.
When officers asked David about Gretchen, he told them she had COVID.
DAVID ANTHONY: Last I heard she was in a CDC facility getting treatment for coronavirus.
When Las Cruces police processed David Anthony’s vehicle, they recovered these cell phones; one belonged to Gretchen Anthony. Investigators believe it was used by David to send those fake text messages from Gretchen. / Credit: Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office
Las Cruces police seized David’s truck and his possessions, including his phone and Gretchen’s phone. But they didn’t have enough evidence to bring David in for questioning. So, along with Kobe, he was allowed to just walk away.
Peter Van Sant: Where does he go?
Det. Jared Kenerson: I don’t know where he went. But I knew that he was in Las Cruces on foot.
Peter Van Sant: And you’re here in Florida. What do you do?
Det. Jared Kenerson: We are awaiting the results of Gretchen Anthony’s video cameras.
On March 30, 2020, Jupiter Police finally received the electronic recordings from Gretchen’s home. They released portions of that evidence, like video from security cameras revealing a tall figure hidden in the shadows on the patio … waiting to ambush her.
Security footage revealed this image of a figure lurking in Gretchen Anthony’s patio on the last day she was seen alive. / Credit: Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office
Chrichet Mixon: The figure moves throughout the patio area.
Other footage was too disturbing to release to “48 Hours,” including the moment Gretchen appears on the patio and the figure forces her into the garage. Investigators say they then heard Gretchen calling out to her Alexa device for help.
Chrichet Mixon: She was screaming for Alexa to call 911.
Peter Van Sant: She’s calling out to that electronic box, call 911. In other words, call the police.
Gretchen didn’t know it, but unless you specifically program your Alexa device to do so, it does not call the police in an emergency.
Peter Van Sant: Do you think if the Alexa unit had called 911, Gretchen Anthony might be alive today?
Det. Jared Kenerson: It’s possible.
Video retrieved from cameras in the garage show the last images of Gretchen alive.
Chrichet Mixon: There comes a point where … this person that we see grab Gretchen, muffle her screams and take her into the garage. This person looks up and the camera, realizes that it’s a camera, and proceeds to take that camera and snatch it down off the wall and throws it on the floor.
Peter Van Sant: And what do you see?
Chrichet Mixon: We see David Anthony looking up into the camera. …We knew that David Anthony killed Gretchen Anthony. He was the killer.
Investigators were able to recover this image of David Anthony from Gretchen’s security camera in her garage. Shortly after, David took the cameras down and hit the road. / Credit: Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office
Investigators finally had the proof they needed to make an arrest. Detective Kenerson raced to Las Cruces to look for David Anthony.
Det. Jared Kenerson: We searched homeless areas. We searched hotels. …
Peter Van Sant: Were you nervous he was going to get away?
Det. Jared Kenerson: I was very nervous. I didn’t know where he could have gone.
On the evening of March 31, 2020, officers got a lucky break when they spotted David walking his dog Kobe. David was detained, and Kobe was taken to a shelter.
DET. JARED KENERSON: Hey David.
DAVID ANTHONY: Who are you?
DET. JARED KENERSON: My name is Jared Kenerson, I’m a detective with the Jupiter Police Department.
With all 6′ 7″ inches of David Anthony crammed into the back seat of a small police car, Detective Kenerson knelt down to look directly in the eyes of the man he was certain had killed Gretchen.
DET. JARED KENERSON: There’s a warrant for your arrest, I’m gonna explain that when—
DAVID ANTHONY: For — for what?
DET. JARED KENERSON: Excuse me?
DAVID: For what?
DET. JARED KENERSON: Homicide.
DAVID: For who? [Long silence]
DET. JARED KENERSON: Who do you think?
DAVID: [Shakes his head] That’s why I asked the question.
DET. JARED KENERSON: We’ll talk about it at the headquarters, OK?
Kenerson had his man, but still had one looming question.
Chrichet Mixon: We still don’t have a body. … Where is Gretchen Anthony?
DENIALS & A DARE
After a manhunt crossing six states spanning nearly 2,000 miles, on March 31, 2020, David Anthony was finally in custody for the murder of his estranged wife Gretchen.
Jupiter detectives Kelly Sanders and Jared Kenerson would interrogate him at the State Police headquarters in Las Crucis, New Mexico. They had one goal: get David to reveal the location of Gretchen’s body.
Jared Kenerson: … we were in search of the truth. We’re in search of where is Gretchen Anthony. I wanted to be able to tell her family, tell her daughter, I know where she is. … And that was very important to us.
Right away, David made it clear it wouldn’t be easy.
DET. JARED KENERSON: We have obtained … a warrant for your arrest for murder.
DAVID ANTHONY: OK. She’s alive.
After a manhunt crossing six states spanning nearly 2,000 miles, on March 31, 2020, David Anthony was finally in custody for the murder of his estranged wife Gretchen. / Credit: Facebook
Kenerson was stunned when David claimed Gretchen wasn’t dead.
Det. Jared Kenerson: Yeah. I was in disbelief. I knew that she wasn’t with us anymore.
Peter Van Sant: But he’s defiant with you.
Det. Jared Kenerson: That’s correct.
Defiant and dishonest. Police say the story David told was pure fiction.
DAVID ANTHONY: … so she was travelling with me up to El Paso. … We were driving separate vehicle, so she bolted.
He said Gretchen was on the run because she’d discovered illegal activities at the company where she worked, and someone was after her.
Peter Van Sant: Are you buying any of this?
Det. Jared Kenerson: I’m not buying it, no.
When asked about the text messages sent from Gretchen’s phone claiming she had COVID — David was evasive.
DET. JARED KENERSON: There’s no record of her being in any hospital for COVID-19. Zero record.
DAVID ANTHONY: OK. Doesn’t — doesn’t mean anything.
When the detectives pushed harder – insisting David sent the messages — he pushed right back.
DET. KELLY SANDERS: You have her phone. You sent the text messages. You got — You planted her car at Jupiter Medical Center because you’re on video doing it.
DET. JARED KENERSON: We have all that information.
DAVID ANTHONY: She had me do it. She had me do it.
Kenerson and Sanders even confronted David with the evidence captured on Gretchen’s own video system.
DET. KELLY SANDERS: You put your hand over her mouth and dragged her into the garage.
DET. JARED KENERSON: It’s on video, David.
DAVID ANTHONY: She’s still alive.
David’s story never changed – he repeatedly told the detectives Gretchen was alive.
DAVID ANTHONY: She’s alive.
During the interrogation, Detectives Kenerson and Kelly Sanders [not pictured] told David Anthony that they had him on camera ambushing Gretchen. But he insisted she was alive 35 times. / Credit: Jupiter Police Department
In fact, during the course of the interrogation, David Anthony made that claim 35 times.
Peter Van Sant: In fact, he says that over and over and over that she’s alive. Why is he saying that?
Det. Jared Kenerson: He’s trying to deflect. David is trying to deflect away from himself.
With each denial, the detective’s anger rose.
Det. Jared Kenerson: It’s very frustrating because we know she’s not alive. We have evidence of her not being alive.
So Kenerson switched tactics and tried to appeal to David’s bond with Gretchen’s young daughter.
DET. JARED KENERSON [holding up photo]: You see that little girl right there? I want you to look at her.
DAVID ANTHONY: I love her dearly. I love her dearly.
DET. JARED KENERSON: Look at her!! I know you do. Look at her real good.
And for a brief moment, it seemed like it might work.
DAVID ANTHONY: I was the one who taught her how to ride a bicycle and shoot a hoop and use her awareness.
DET. JARED KENERSON: And that’s awesome. Yup and that’s awesome.
DET. KELLY SANDERS: Then do what’s right for her.
DAVID ANTHONY: I would never hurt her.
DET. KELLY SANDERS: Not —
DAVID ANTHONY: I would never hurt either one of them.
DET. KELLY SANDERS: Well, you’re hurting her indirectly by not letting us know where her mom is.
DAVID ANTHONY: You’ll have to ask her.
DET. KELLY SANDERS: We can’t ask her. She’s dead.
DET. JARED KENERSON: She’s dead.
DAVID ANTHONY: Her mother is still alive. I’m telling you.
DET. JARED KENERSON: She is not alive.
And then David tried a new tactic, he dared them to prove their case.
DET. KELLY SANDERS: We have it on video in black and white.
DAVID ANTHONY: You don’t have video of me killing her.
DET. KELLY SANDERS: How do you know what we have?
DAVID ANTHONY: Show it to me.
DET. KELLY SANDERS: Her dead —
DAVID ANTHONY: Show me the video!
DET. KELLY SANDERS: Her dead body.
DAVID ANTHONY: Just show me the video.
DET. KELLY SANDERS: Her dead body is right there.
DAVID ANTHONY: Show me the video.
DET. JARED KENERSON: I know that it exists.
DAVID ANTHONY: OK, then show it to me.
DET. JARED KENERSON: You can yell and scream all you want.
DAVID ANTHONY: Just show it to me.
The detectives decided it was time to take a break. They left and sent officers in to adjust David’s handcuffs.
DET. JARED KENERSON: David, you want a water?
Kenerson came back alone, this time, quiet and friendly.
During questioning, Detective Kenerson tried to appeal to David Anthony’s bond with Gretchen’s young daughter. / Credit: Facebook
He made one last emotional plea by playing an audio recording of Gretchen’s daughter begging David to tell them where they could find her mother. Even that didn’t work.
DAVID ANTHONY: I’ve raised the girl since she was 2 years old. I know her voice.
David claimed – falsely – that it wasn’t Gretchen’s daughter’s voice. Infuriated, Kenerson decided to let him have it.
DET. JARED KENERSON: You are a monster for what you did.
DAVID ANTHONY: I had nothing to do with it.
DET. JARED KENERSON: You are a monster.
DAVID ANTHONY: You didn’t even like, you didn’t even, you’re not even doing your homework, man.
DET. JARED KENERSON: You are a monster.
DAVID ANTHONY: Do your homework, Jared. Do your homework.
DET. JARED KENERSON: You are a monster for what you did, and everybody is going to look at you like that.
After more than two hours, David abruptly ended the interview.
DAVID ANTHONY: I’ll ask for a lawyer.
DET. JARED KENERSON: No problem.
DET. JARED KENERSON: I’m not asking you any more questions.
Det. Jared Kenerson: I’m still wondering where Gretchen is. I wasn’t able to leave that interview knowing where she was, and that didn’t necessarily sit well with me.
David Anthony was charged with second-degree murder and extradited to Florida. Days later, his dog Kobe was adopted by new owners. In Jupiter, David’s arrest made the news.
NEWS REPORT: According to a just released arrest report, a neighbor heard a woman’s blood-curdling scream at about six in the morning March 21.
When Kelly Hanna saw the story, she says it broke her heart.
Kelly Hanna: I just sat down on my bedroom floor and just cried my eyes out, cried my eyes out for her daughter, for her sisters, for her parents, for everyone who loved her.
David’s former boss Tabitha Hopkins felt she’d lost two friends.
Tabitha Hopkins: It was just shocking. … I wanted to believe it wasn’t true, but it was obviously.
Prosecutor David Aronberg had evidence, and a suspect in custody, but he knew getting a conviction wouldn’t be easy.
Dave Aronberg: The most troubling thing for the family and for all of us, quite frankly, was that we did not have Gretchen’s body. … And when you don’t have a body or a manner of death, those are challenging cases to prosecute.
And David Anthony knew it.
A PLEA FOR GRETCHEN
While David Anthony was held in custody in Palm Beach County, Florida, a grand jury indicted him on the charge of kidnapping and raised the murder charge from second degree to first.
Peter Van Sant: Could he have faced the death penalty with these charges?
Chrichet Mixon: Potentially. … Yes, for first-degree murder.
But the search for Gretchen Anthony’s remains continued.
Dave Aronberg: That was the thing he had in his favor if this ever went to trial …
Chrichet Mixon: It was almost as though it was his ticket.
Chrichet Mixon: It was the worst part of it for me, the fact that he was able to use evidence of his crime as leverage.
That fact also weighed heavily on Gretchen’s family.
Chrichet Mixon: The thought of Gretchen being out there alone forever was very unsettling for them. … I think the family wanted life in prison, but they wanted Gretchen.
In December 2020, with the winter holidays looming, it was becoming tragically apparent that authorities may never find Gretchen without her alleged killer’s help.
Dave Aronberg: And so, we entered into negotiations with David Anthony’s defense lawyer. And we’re able to work out a settlement of 38 years in prison.
That settlement required David Anthony to plead guilty to second-degree murder and reveal the location of Gretchen’s remains.
Chrichet Mixon: David Anthony pleads guilty.
Ultimately, the security footage that investigators recovered from Gretchen Anthony’s home — and other evidence — helped secure a guilty plea for second-degree murder and kidnapping against David Anthony. / Credit: Las Cruces Police Department
On December 21, nine months to the day after Gretchen Anthony went missing, David Anthony finally admits what everyone already knew: he murdered his wife.
Chrichet Mixon: We were able to find Gretchen that day.
Chrichet Mixon: It was a relief because I know that is what her family wanted, and to be able to give that to them, it meant a lot.
David Anthony chose a nondescript patch of grass, just a few miles from her house, behind a Walmart and next to a retirement home to hide his wife’s remains. Detective Jared Kenerson took “48 Hours” there.
Peter Van Sant: How does someone bury a body here and not get caught?
Det. Jared Kenerson: I don’t know. I don’t know.
Peter Van Sant: This discovery, that must have been quite a moment for you.
Det. Jared Kenerson: It was very emotional for me. It was very emotional for all of us that were involved.
After months of uncertainty, Gretchen’s family could finally lay her to rest.
Chrichet Mixon: And I could see as hard of a time as this has been or had been for the family, I could see that there was some sort of peace.
An autopsy was performed, which explained why that neighbor heard screams the morning Gretchen disappeared.
Peter Van Sant: What was the cause of death?
Det. Jared Kenerson: The cause of death was stab wounds to the neck and to the torso.
Chrichet Mixon: … there were some defensive wounds. … She fought for her life.
On January 14, 2021, Gretchen’s sister, Sarah Carey, and the rest of their family came face to face with David Anthony at his sentencing hearing.
SARAH CAREY: You used what you did to negotiate something for yourself … You are pure evil.
SARAH CAREY: You stole a mother away from her child, a daughter away from her mother … You are a monster. You are a coward. … You can never be forgiven.
Then, it came time for the man who created all this pain to speak. He gave a bizarre explanation for his actions.
DAVID ANTHONY: My illusions saw the COVID pandemic as an end of the world prophecy, an Armageddon that I felt compelled to escape no matter the cost. … Instead of being a man, I chose to be a coward. I tried to steal what wasn’t mine, and in the process, I ended a life. Her life had value, her life had meaning, and I stole that life.
Kelly Hanna: I’ll call B.S. on that, hard. Hogwash. … That’s appalling. Absolutely appalling.
And he left so many questions unanswered.
Chrichet Mixon: We will never know. We will never know. We will never know why he ended Gretchen’s life.
Kelly Hanna: I think that’s the hardest question to ask is why. And sometimes you just need to believe that there are higher powers in place that have a bigger plan.
Gretchen Anthony and her daughter. / Credit: Facebook
And now Gretchen’s friends and family are left trying to make sense of it all.
Peter Van Sant: How is Gretchen’s daughter doing?
Chrichet Mixon: You know, children are resilient. She is blessed to have her father in her life … and she appears to be doing well.
Kelly Hanna: So, if one person was touched by how much she loved people, by how much she loved her child, by how much she just loved living life to the fullest … then her life mattered.
David Anthony is scheduled to be released from prison in 2058. He will be 81 years old.
Produced by Chris O’Connell and Mary Ann Rotondi. Ryan N. Smith, Cindy Cesare, Claire St. Amant, Tamara Weitzman and Sara Ely Hulse are the development producers. Michelle Feuer is the field producer. Shaheen Tokhi and Chelsea Narvaez are the associate producers. Marcus Balsam, Michelle Harris and James Taylor are the editors. Anthony Batson is the senior broadcast producer. Nancy Kramer is the executive story editor. Judy Tygard is the executive producer.
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