As the search for missing Cohasset, Massachusetts mother Ana Walshe drags on, leaving family, friends and the public desperately clinging to every bit of new information, people on the South Shore came together in prayer Thursday in honor of Walshe.
The First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church held an interfaith prayer vigil for Ana Walshe on Thursday evening at the Cohasset Town Common.
"We come to you as one community, praying for and with the Walsh family," said Jeanne Cregan of St. Anthony's Catholic Church.
The vigil comes as friends and family speak out about the 39-year-old's disappearance, making pleas that her children remain together while in the hands of the state, and nationwide attention falls on Walshe's husband, facing a criminal charge in the case.
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Religious leaders say Thursday evening's vigil on the Cohasset Town Common was meant to help the community, which is struggling under the weight of Ana Walshe's mysterious disappearance -- many are dealing with anger, horror and grief.
"My heart breaks for them and what she may have gone through," said resident Charlene Hart.
There were candles, a minute of silence and prayers for Walshe. For her three sons, there was hope that they will be able to face the challenges that have been thrust upon them.
"I hope they're not confused," said town resident Dawn Mack. "I hope someone's helping them work through what's going on. They're missing their mother and their father."
"Thinking more of Ana and their children," said Lauren Nolan. "Less of the horrible details of a possible crime, more focus on who's missing and the impact on the children."
"We cannot help Ana at the moment, but at least we can help her children," Natasha Sky said.
Sky and Pamela Bardhi say the Eastern European immigrant community is ready to welcome the children, and at the very least, they want the three boys to remain together while they're in the hands of the state.
"Please, those children went through enough drama," said Sky. "Do not separate them. That's our message to the government, we ask for compassion and empathy."
The two women know Walshe from the real estate world, and from the Sky International Center, a local network for immigrants. They say Walshe and her colleagues were sponsors of the center's 2021 Gatsby Gala at a mansion in Manchester-by-the-Sea.
"Brilliant woman when it comes to business," said Bardhi. "An absolute light, always talking about her family, her boys, her business, different ways to help other people elevate and inspire them."
Elizabeta Jovičić, a cousin of Walshe, said she last spoke to her about a week before she disappeared, and nothing seemed wrong.
"She did not speak bad of Brian or her situation with him," Jovičić said.
She said she met Brian Walshe several times when the couple visited Serbia. She said the entire family is in shock that he is now behind bars, charged with misleading police investigating Ana's disappearance.
"He was a lovely man, lovely. And I just can't believe that Brian would do this -- if he did do this. I don't know," Jovičić said.
She said it is surreal watching the search for Ana Walshe make front-page news in Serbia, as well as international headlines. She said Walshe's mother is extremely concerned, especially after she missed a call from her daughter around midnight on New Year's Eve.
"She called her mom, her sister and a friend. No one answered the call, and she just disappeared," Jovičić said.
Her family said they anxiously waiting for more answers in the case. Authorities did not provide an update on Wednesday, but said they are processing all the evidence investigators collected.
Brian Walshe, Ana's husband, has been in police custody since the weekend, after his arrest for allegedly misleading investigators amid the search for his wife.
The investigation has covered a lot of physical ground across the Bay State, as police sift through garbage in search of potential evidence. Sources have confirmed that included among the items found during the search of a trash facility in Peabody are a hacksaw, bloody materials including towels, and materials consistent with some of the items Brian Walshe allegedly purchased at Home Depot.
Prosecutors said during Walshe's arraignment on Monday that Walshe bought $450 in cleaning supplies at a Home Depot, and said a knife and blood were found in the basement of the Walshe home. He has just been charged with misleading police at this point.