Michele Anderson turned up at her family Christmas party ready to kill. When she was done, six members of her family were dead - including her niece and nephew Olivia, 5, and Nathan, 3. A truly unthinkable crime.
It was 4pm on Christmas Eve 2007, and, in the rural town of Carnation, Seattle, Wayne and Judy Anderson were getting the house ready for a festive get-together with friends. They were expecting their guests to knock on the door, but instead their daughter Michele Anderson, 37, and her boyfriend Joseph McEnroe, 36, barged in. And they hadn’t come to join in with the holiday cheer. They’d come to kill.
While Joseph distracted Judy, 61, who was in a back room wrapping Christmas presents, Michele gunned down her father in the living room. Moments later, Judy was also shot dead in the kitchen of the family home. The killers dragged the lifeless bodies to a shed at the back of the house, and spent the next hour mopping up the huge puddles of blood with towels.
Then they waited for Michele’s brother Scott Anderson to arrive with his wife Erica and their two children Olivia, 5, and Nathan, 3. When they did, the sadistic couple wasted no time in firing at the young parents as they walked into the living room. Just before she died, Erica managed to make a heartbreaking call to 911. ‘Not the kids!’ she screamed. But Michele and Joseph showed no mercy.
As the young children clung to the body of their dying mother, terrified and wailing, they, too, were blasted in the head with a handgun. It was a massacre. A total of 14 shots were fired with handguns that the heartless killers later tossed into a nearby river. Two days later, on Boxing Day, the bodies were discovered. Police noticed that Michele and Joseph, who had now arrived back at the property, were acting strangely, and arrested the pair.
Initially, both spun a story about having been en route to Las Vegas to get married at the time, before getting lost and returning home instead. It wasn’t long, however, before they confessed to the crime, with Michele claiming she pressured Joseph into joining in.
‘It’s my fault … I’m sorry… I’m a monster,’ Anderson confessed in her police interview. But what was it that had made her flip and kill six of her own relatives? According to prosecutors, it was ‘pure, unadulterated greed’…
Anderson and McEnroe had been living in a mobile home within the grounds of her parents’ five-acre country home rent-free for a year – but her parents had then started asking for money, which made Anderson see red. She was also furious with her brother Wayne for refusing to pay her back $40,000 she claimed he’d borrowed over the years. And she’d become even more enraged when her parents had taken Wayne’s side. For Anderson, enough was finally enough.
‘I’m tired of everyone stepping on me,’ she later told police. In Anderson’s twisted mind, the mass slaughter of her family was the only solution. Explaining to detectives why she’d killed the young children, she said, ‘I just thought if they saw their parents dead, they’d be scarred for life.’ But, in her police interview, Anderson seemed to regret her actions. ‘I’m in a lot of trouble now over some stupid money,’ she said.
From jail, Michele Anderson later gave a newspaper interview when she said years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her parents and brother had pushed her to the edge. ‘Everyone has a breaking point. I told them to stop or I would snap, and they knew what I meant. They just pushed me too far,’ she said. However, other members of the family dispute the claims of abuse.
Anderson also claimed in the interview that she coerced her partner in crime Joseph McEnroe into helping her. ‘I don’t want to say who did what. We both shot people. But this is all my fault – I dragged him into it,’ she said.
People who knew the couple described them as misfits, and said Anderson referred to herself as the ‘black sheep’ of the family. Despite attempting to justify her actions, Anderson also expressed remorse for what she had done. And, taking ‘100 per cent responsibility’, she even asked to be given the death penalty, which is still a legal punishment in the state of Washington for those who’ve committed the most heinous crimes.
Michele Anderson and Joseph McEnroe were tried separately and were both found guilty. Juries decided to spare both the death penalty, but they were each sentenced to life in prison without parole. At the sentencing, Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell commended the family and friends of the victims for sitting through the gruesome trial. ‘You have all suffered tremendous losses. Fortunately, this lengthy chapter of your nightmare is almost over,’ he said.
Ultimately, justice was served. But, for the loved ones of the victims, Christmas will forever be tainted with the haunting memory of how the lives of three generations from the same family were cut tragically short.