But when family members phoned the clinic and hospital for more information, staff told them nobody named Gretchen Anthony had been admitted to either medical facility in recent days, according to a police report obtained by several local news outlets. When she couldn’t be found, a relative reported Gretchen missing and alerted police about the suspicious texts.
Almost two weeks later, her 43-year-old husband was arrested on kidnapping and murder charges. On Thursday, police released more information about the alleged plot to obscure Gretchen’s disappearance by pretending she was in the hospital with a severe case of covid-19. The Jupiter Police Department said officers are still searching for Gretchen.
The couple had filed for divorce in February, according to a court filing reviewed by The Washington Post, and the husband had an odd scrape with the law about a week before his wife disappeared.
Anthony’s alleged strange behavior began last month, when police in a neighboring town watched him approach a group of teenage girls while “pacing back and forth and sweating profusely,” according to a Riviera Beach police report obtained by The Post.
An officer noticed his license plate had been tampered with using black electrical tape to alter the numbers on the tag, police said. When questioned about the tape, he blamed his 12-year-old stepdaughter and tried to leave.
The officer held him at gunpoint after Anthony tried to grab something beneath the driver’s seat. When another officer tried to handcuff him, Anthony repeatedly slammed his car door on the officer's arm, according to the report. He was arrested on March 14 for resisting an officer with violence and posted bail four days later, according to court records.
On the morning after Gretchen was last seen in her home, neighbors heard a bloodcurdling scream around 6 a.m.
“No! No, it hurts,” a neighbor recalled hearing a woman shout on March 21, according to a police report obtained by several local news outlets. A couple days later, another neighbor had noticed someone apparently scrubbing down the inside of the Anthonys’ closed garage with a chemical cleaner and water, WPEC reported.
Over the next few days, neighbors saw a black pickup truck parked near the Anthonys’ home, covered with a tarp to obscure the bed, and the strange text messages were sent from Gretchen Anthony’s phone.
One witness texted her husband to ask whether he had seen Gretchen on the same day that neighbors heard screaming coming from the couple’s garage. His reply didn’t match the texts about her being treated for covid-19.
“She mentioned something about going to beach to ground herself bc she wasn’t feeling well,” he texted the witness, WPEC reported. “Then she proceeded to tell me I should ‘plead insanity’ on some bogus police charges I’ve been dealing with.”
On March 27, Jupiter police officers found a key snapped off in the Anthonys’ garage door lock. They forced their way into the building, and discovered a still-wet bleach stain and what appeared to be blood on the floor, the Palm Beach Post reported.
Meanwhile, her husband had left Florida, and police discovered that both his and his wife’s cellphones were pinging off phone towers in Texas. He was arrested in New Mexico on March 31 and charged in his wife’s disappearance.
A cadaver dog, which is trained to sniff out human remains, alerted officers to signs of a dead body at the Anthonys’ home and inside the husband’s truck, police said.
Officers also discovered Gretchen’s blue Mini Cooper, with her purse inside, on Tuesday in the parking lot of the medical center named in some of the texts sent to her friends and family, WPEC reported.
But police have not found Gretchen Anthony, they said Tuesday.
“Investigators are still trying to locate the whereabouts of Gretchen Anthony and are hoping the public may have seen or heard something related to this case,” police said in a statement.