CARNATION, Wash. -- Seven years ago, Linda Thiele drove into Carnation and walked into a nightmare.
“I thought it was carbine monoxide poison,” said Thiele. “You don’t expect to see a bunch of people shot.”
Thiele told that to prosecutors on the witness stand in the murder trial of Joe McEnroe, accused of shooting her friend Judy Anderson and five other members of her family.
Thiele worked with Judy Anderson at the local post office and told the court she drove to Anderson’s home when she didn’t show up for work the day after Christmas.
“I thought it was unusual she wasn’t there by seven o’clock. She was never late without letting you know.”
Thiele said when her friend didn’t answer her cell phone, “I started crying because I knew something is wrong.”
Something was very wrong. Thiele’s friend Judy was dead, along with her husband Wayne, adult son Scott, Erika, their daughter-in-law, and their two little grandchildren, 5-year-old Olivia and 3-year old Nathan. All six victims were shot at point-blank range.
"There's been a murder," she told dispatchers, shortly after walking in the Anderson house, and discovering one of the victims shot in the face.
Thiele described to the court how she stayed in the Anderson home, on the phone with 911 dispatchers for 30 minutes waiting for police to arrive and terrified that the killer may still be around.
“I’m worried about someone coming and shooting me,” she told dispatchers moments before officers arrived.
Judy Anderson’s daughter Michelle, and McEnroe, her boyfriend, eventually told police they committed the crimes, killing the children to eliminate any witnesses.
McEnroe’s defense team blames his actions on the influence of Michelle and the anger she had toward her family, especially her parents who had begun asking that she pay rent on the trailer the two lived in on the family property.
Thiele told the jury she immediately suspected Michelle, calling her unstable, and recalling Judy Anderson’s concern over her anger issues.
If convicted, McEnroe could face the death penalty, which is what has led to so many delays leading up to the trial. Michelle Anderson’s murder trial begins next fall.