Text messages from the phone of a missing woman have emerged as details of her murder reveal how her ex-husband killer tried to use the coronavirus pandemic to cover his tracks.
Friends of Gretchen Anthony, 51, became suspicious in March last year after receiving text messages from her saying she had contracted Covid-19 and was receiving treatment in hospital in the US state of Florida.
One of the first messages, which began on March 23, was to her 12-year-old daughter, who at the time was staying with Ms Anthony's first husband, Jeff, CBS News reported.
"Good morning. Tested positive for coronavirus early this morning. That means I have to stay here for at least two weeks," part of a text received by her daughter read.
In other messages, she claimed to be "really sick" and "on a ventilator", but what worried her loved ones most, was that she would never answer their calls.
Friends found out she had never been admitted to hospital as the messages claimed and contacted police to request officers check her home for a welfare check.
When police arrived, they reportedly found several signs there had been a struggle, including shards of glass on Ms Anthony's bed, a broken picture frame, stained towel and cloth with a blood-like substance on it.
The welfare check quickly became a murder investigation when a neighbour informed police they had on March 21 "heard a really serious woman's scream, just screaming, like she was being attacked".
Ex husband caught on security camera footage
After hearing the distressing screams, neighbours took photos of a black Nissan ute parked near the home, which was later identified to be car of David Anthony – Ms Anthony's ex husband.
His face was also prominent in security footage taken by camera's in her home, which had been removed by the time police arrived but was able to be accessed using cloud technology.
Audio from Ms Anthony's in-home Alexa devices, accessed through the supplier, also revealed she cried out for help the day neighbours reported hearing the screams.
Footage from cameras on her patio showed a male figure grab her, muffle her screaming and move her into the garage, where more footage showed her ex staring straight into a security camera.
Police set about their hunt for Anthony, who at the time was living with his mum while the divorce was being finalised.
His mum told police her son was driving to Costa Rica in Central America, and officers followed in pursuit, tracking his movements using pinging from both his and Ms Anthony's phone.
Police arrested him outside a convenience store in Las Cruces, New Mexico, just before midnight on March 31, Miami New Times reported.
Anthony pled guilty to killing his ex wife in December 2020, and was sentenced to 38 years in prison.
As part of his deal with prosecutors, he led investigators to Ms Anthony's body, which was found wrapped in a blanket about five kilometres from her house, in bushland behind a nursing home.
It was determined she had died from stab wounds to her neck and torso. The story made national headlines this week after a CBS investigation publicised the texts and publicly revealed the extent of the husband's attempted "Covid cover-up".
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com