GALVESTON COUNTY, Texas — Disturbing details surfaced Tuesday in the death of a mother whose remains were found hidden in the garage of her ex-husband's League City home over the weekend. Family and friends say Anne-Christine Johnson was a battered woman, who suffered multiple instances of abuse at the hands of Shaun Philip Hardy.
The body of the 32-year-old mother was found wrapped in a black plastic bag, strapped with duct tape Friday at Hardy's home in the 600 block of Chesterfield Lane, according to court documents. Even though the two were divorced, investigators said the small-town waitress had been living with Hardy, 32, and their son before her family reported her missing on Dec. 12.
League City police said Hardy was at home with their child when officers knocked on his door Friday. The ex-husband started to cry and sob when officers entered to search the house, court documents said.
Investigators said the victim's cell phone had been found in a field near the home days before her body was discovered, but she was nowhere in sight. During the investigation, detectives noticed several newer planks had been added to the back fence of Hardy's home. Investigators later concluded the original planks had been removed to push through the victim's body and later replaced with fresh ones. Behind the fence was open ranch land and scrub bush, detectives said.
Court documents said Hardy insisted to police his ex-wife didn't live at the house, but witness interviews and phone GPS records suggested otherwise.
While looking through the home, officers smelled a strong odor — similar to human flesh — coming from Hardy's garage, a police report said. Upon further inspection, police officers found the remains of a blonde-haired woman concealed and surrounded by scented candles, court documents said.
The Galveston County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed Tuesday the remains belonged to Johnson. She'd suffered two puncture wounds to her neck, a bruise on her chin, and a wound that could have been caused by a knife in her chest, the department said.
Court documents said Hardy was taken into custody and explained to officers what happened to his ex-wife. He told police officers he wanted to see Johnson die, court documents said.
Johnson had come to the house Dec. 13 and the two got into an argument that became physical, investigators said.
Hardy said Johnson was armed with a knife when he threw her to the ground with his full strength, causing the mother to bleed heavily on her head and face, court documents said. She rolled onto her left side, pressing the knife's tip to her chest, officers said. Hardy then kicked the knife's handle and intentionally plunged the blade into Johnson's body, investigators said.
He then put a plastic bag over Johnson's head in order to put her "out of her misery" because the knife caused her to cough and gargle, officers said.
Police said the ex-husband tried to cover up the incident, wrapping Johnson's body in a rug before placing it into a plastic bag and sealing it with duct tape. He also washed the floor with a mop and ammonia and then hid the knife in a box in the kitchen, court documents said.
Detectives said it isn't clear whether the victim died from being suffocated, the blunt force trauma to her head or the knife wound to her chest.
Hardy is charged with murder and attempting to tamper with physical evidence.
He is being held at the Galveston County Jail on a $500,000 bail.
An abusive marriage
In June 2015, the victim accused Hardy of pointing a loaded shotgun at her, hitting her with the muzzle, knocking her into a wall and then pushing her to the floor and choking her. Investigators said Johnson sent pictures of her injuries to her best friend, showing extensive bruising around her throat, shoulders, arms, upper chest and face.
Court documents said charges were never filed against Hardy, and both people claimed the other was the aggressor.
Investigators said the victim's close friends had seen Hardy beat the victim several times out of anger when they were married. Investigators said one of Hardy's co-workers claimed he admitted to them about attacking Johnson and choking her.
A father searches for his daughter
Johnson and her father had been planning a dinner date over text messing for weeks, court documents said. But when the father arrived at the League City house on Dec. 9, police said Hardy denied Johnson lived there. Investigators said when the father returned a second time, Hardy told him Johnson had left that afternoon in a white car driven by a man.
Detectives said investigators found no evidence of the car. Officers also looked into the victim's UBER account and learned she had not used the app in months, court documents said.
Investigators also went to the Legends Sports Bar where Johnson worked, and staff said she hadn't come by to pick up two of her checks, a police report said.
The family said Hardy was a jealous man and didn't care for Johnson hanging out with other men. Several family members and close friends — even an ex-boyfriend — said the victim would never abandon her child.