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Originally published December 28, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified December 28, 2007 at 10:48 PM

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Carnation slayings: police given chilling details

Michele Anderson was tired of getting stepped on, and if her family did not start showing her some respect by Dec. 24, she definitely planned...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Michele Anderson was tired of getting stepped on, and if her family did not start showing her some respect by Dec. 24, she definitely planned to kill them all, according to chilling new details released by the King County prosecutor today in the execution-style murder of three generations of Anderson's family.

Police said Anderson told them that she had loaned money to her brother, Scott Anderson, a while back and hadn't been repaid, according to the charging papers. The relationship between the once-close siblings soured after Scott Anderson married.

And Michele Anderson was angry that her parents, Judith and Wayne Anderson, had begun pressuring her to pay rent for the trailer she shared with her boyfriend, Joseph McEnroe, on their wooded Carnation property, she told police.

So on Christmas Eve, Anderson and McEnroe shot her parents, brother and sister-in-law to death in a preplanned ambush, according to the documents released today after the suspects were each charged with six counts of aggravated murder.

McEnroe then turned to Scott and Erica Anderson's children, 5-year-old Olivia and 3-year-old Nathan, who had witnessed the slaying of their parents, and shot them each in the head, killing them, according to the charging papers.

"I didn't want them to turn us in," McEnroe reportedly told police about why the children were killed.

If convicted, the suspects, both 29, could face life in prison without release or the death penalty.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said today that he would spend the coming weeks piecing together more details about the case and determining whether to seek the death penalty.

"Given the magnitude of this crime, I pledge to give this case serious consideration for the state's ultimate penalty," said Satterberg. The office has 30 days to file its intention to pursue capital punishment for the couple.

Charging papers released today lay out what police say was an ambush-style attack and execution of the Anderson family.

The couple armed themselves with guns they had purchased from a pawnshop over the summer and drove the 200 yards from their trailer up the hill to Wayne and Judy Anderson's small, white house, according to the reports.

When they entered, Judy Anderson was in a back room wrapping Christmas gifts for her grandchildren, according to police. Encountering Wayne Anderson first, Michele Anderson fired her 9-mm handgun into her father, according to police. Hearing the shot, Judith ran into the front room to see McEnroe fire his 357-caliber Magnum handgun into her husband.

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As Judith Anderson began to scream, McEnroe shot her and she fell to the floor, police said. She continued to scream, so he apologized to her and then shot her again in the head, according to the documents.

Her parents dead, the couple allegedly then prepared for the arrival of Michele Anderson's brother and his family, on their way over for a planned Christmas Eve dinner, according to the charging papers.

They dragged the bodies to an outdoor shed, used blankets and towels to clean up blood and burned evidence in a fire pit, according to documents and information from Satterberg.

Then they waited. When Scott Anderson and his family arrived, he realized quickly what was going on and tried to struggle with his sister as she aimed her gun, according to the documents. He was shot several times, though it's unclear by who.

After watching in horror as her husband was killed, Erica was shot twice by her sister-in-law, the papers state. She managed to crawl behind a couch, grab a phone and call 911.

McEnroe told police that he then grabbed the phone from Erica Anderson, tore the batteries from the handset, and shot her in the head.

He then turned his gun to the children and shot each one in the head, according to the charging papers.

Sometime after the killings, Michele Anderson closed and locked the gate at the end of her parents' driveway because she knew her sister-in-law had dialed 911, according to the charging papers.

The bodies were discovered Wednesday by one of Judy Anderson's co-workers, who arrived to check on her well-being after she failed to show up for work as a Carnation mail carrier.

The King County Medical Examiner had not released results from the autopsies of the bodies.

Satterberg said Michele Anderson and McEnroe were planning to escape to Canada when they returned to the crime scene, a wooded property about 3 miles from downtown Carnation, with a plan to pretend they discovered the bodies. After being interviewed separately by deputies, they were booked.

Sheriff spokesman John Urquhart said police weren't sure why the suspects returned but believe they got caught up in the traffic as they drove by. A deputy became suspicious when he stopped to talk to them as they sat in their car on the road outside Wayne and Judy Anderson's property.

The slayings have shocked the small towns of Carnation, where Judy Anderson was a well-known mail carrier, and Black Diamond, where Scott and Erica Anderson and their children lived. Wayne Anderson was a Boeing employee.

In Carnation, the Tolt Congregational United Church of Christ opened its chapel Thursday for those who wanted to pray. "Carnation grieves," read the sign in the front lawn.

The documents released today did not yield much additional information on the 911 call. Dispatchers heard nothing on the other end of the line and sent two sheriff's deputies out to investigate. But they turned back without going up to the home or speaking to anyone after encountering a locked gate.

King County sheriff Sue Rahr announced today that she is calling for an internal investigation into the 911 response. This morning she couldn't explain yet why the deputies turned away.

"We're looking into that right now," she said. "I'm very concerned about that."

But police believe all the victims were dead by the time the deputies arrived at the property and then turned away without going up to the home, she said.

Satterberg said he would take into consideration the wishes of the victims' family when making a decision about the death penalty, as well as any mitigating factors that defense attorneys present.

He based his decision to charge the couple with aggravated murder on two aggravating factors: That the crime had multiple victims and was carried out as part of a common scheme or plan; and that the murders of Erica Anderson and her two children were committed to conceal the commission of other crimes or the identity of the person who committed the crimes.

McEnroe and Anderson are being held without bail and will be arraigned Jan. 9 at 8:30 a.m.

Ben Anderson, Wayne and Judith's grandson, was the only member of the Anderson family inside the King County Jail courtroom Thursday for a bail hearing for the two suspects. Michele Anderson and McEnroe waived their appearances at the hearing through their respective attorneys.

Ben Anderson fought back tears and peered through the courtroom's spectator window as McEnroe briefly entered in a white ultra-security uniform, his face shaded by his shoulder-length hair, before being led out by guards.

After the hearing, defense attorneys for Michele Anderson said their client was "bearing up" in jail and was "stoic, but not emotionless," when they spoke with her.

"She expressed the desire to know the nature of the court appearances," and didn't fully understand the bail hearing at first, attorney George Eppler said.

Natalie Singer: 206-464-2704 or nsinger@seattletimes.com

Seattle Times staff reporters Christina Siderius, Sara Jean Green, Jennifer Sullivan, Steve Miletich, Sonia Krishnan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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