A Maryland woman plotted with two teens to kill her husband and a woman with whom the couple was romantically involved, Anne Arundel County Police said Friday.
On Oct. 5, officers were called to a home on West Bay Front Road in Lothian, Maryland, on the report of a suicide. They found Anthony Joseph Anastasi Jr., 40, lying near a handgun. He was pronounced dead at the scene. In the basement of the home, the officers found the body of Jacqueline Irene Riggs, 25.
Although initially reported as a suicide, an autopsy revealed both victims had been killed. Anastasi was shot and Riggs had been stabbed to death.
Anastasi's wife, Ann Marie Anastasi, and two teens have been charged with their deaths.
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Ann Marie Anastasi tried to make it look as if her husband committed suicide, police said. She told investigators she heard her husband arguing with Riggs in the basement the night of Oct. 4. She said he instructed her not to go into the basement and to get out of the bedroom they shared, locking the door behind him.
The next morning, Ann Anastasi said she got the couple's five children ready for school, but one of the children – a 13-year-old daughter – stayed home sick. When Ann Anastasi returned home, she and the teen went to the grocery store. Ann Anastasi told investigators that when the two returned from the store, she went to check on her husband and found him dead with a handgun next to him.
Investigators said they later determined Riggs was romantically involved with both Anthony and Ann Anastasi. This summer, Riggs moved into the basement of the couple's home, which investigators said caused tension within the household.
At the time of their deaths, Anthony Anastasi and Riggs were still involved in a sexual relationship, but Ann Anastasi was no longer a part of it, charging documents state.
Shortly after Riggs moved in, Ann Anastasi and her 13-year-old daughter decided to have the two killed, investigators said. Police said Gabriel Ezekiel Struss, the teen's 18-year-old boyfriend, helped commit the homicides.
The charging documents indicated the 13-year-old girl may be Ann Anastasi's daughter. News 4's Meagan Fitzgerald confirmed the relationship with Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Wes Adams.
Domestic violence in the home may have been part of the motive for the plot, investigators said.
During their investigation, police found text messages among all three suspects that referenced the killing of two people. According to the charging documents, Struss sent a text message to the teenage girl, telling her not to talk to the police or he would go to jail for life. In another message, the girl discussed taking the "fall" for the killings for Struss.
"We have statements from the 18-year-old that were noted in his charging document which indicated that he admitted to being the person that actually stabbed the victim downstairs and shot Mr. Anastasi," Adams said.
A forensic examination determined the .45-caliber handgun found next to Anthony Anastasi's body did not match the .380-caliber bullet found in his head. Gunshot residue was also found on Ann Anastasi's person and clothing, charging documents state.
"She was instrumental, based on the investigation, in setting the .45 near the victim's head, and that .45 did not match with the .380," Adams said.
Ann Anastasi was arrested Thursday and charged with two counts each of first-degree murder, second-degree murder and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. She is being held at the Anne Arundel County Jennifer Road Detention Center without bond.
The 13-year-old girl has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and accessory after the fact. She was remanded to the custody of a juvenile detention facility.
Struss was arrested early Friday morning in Annapolis, police said. He has been charged with two counts each of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit second-degree murder and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony crime of violence.
Information on attorneys for Ann Anastasi, Struss and the 13-year-old girl was not immediately available.
The case is still under investigation. Anyone with information that can help police is asked to call Homicide Det. Jason McNemar at 410-222-4756. Those who would like to remain anonymous can call the Anne Arundel County Police Tip Line at 410-222-4700.