SALEM — Anna Lorraine Proietti and Brian David Henry married in the summer of 2015.
She was 20; he was 40.
She was a flutist, a former Indiana University student, and a born-and-raised Midwesterner. Friends described her as beautiful, brilliant and talented.
He was a divorced father, a Chemeketa Community College graduate and computer software engineer. Also described as brilliant and a tech wiz, he occasionally ran into trouble with the law. He was first arrested on firearm and criminal mischief charges in 1999, then later convicted of dealing methamphetamine in 2013 and sentenced to three years probation.
The pair met online. To her tight-knit family’s dismay, Anna moved to Oregon. She and Henry married in mid-July and settled down in Salem.
By the time the couple was due to celebrate their first wedding anniversary, one of them would be dead.
Within two years, the other would be in prison.
Deep in the forest
Douglas firs dominate the landscape in the remote, lush, rain-soaked forests of Tillamook County. With an annual rainfall of more than 100 inches, the nearby Tillamook Rainforest is one of the wettest areas in the country. The sparsely populated county becomes even more isolated the further travelers trek into the wilderness.
The campsites along Bald Mountain Access Road near the Tillamook-Yamhill county line are only a few dozen miles from Salem but require a 90-minute drive along highways and backcountry byways.
“Not the greatest camping,” wrote one outdoors website. “But nobody will bother you.”
In July, the hillsides explode with the color of pink, white, purple, yellow and orange wildflowers.
On Sept. 9, a Yamhill County deputy found a bag containing Anna’s birth certificate at one of the forest’s campsites. A search of the surrounding area led deputies to a shallow grave containing the remains of an unidentified young woman. She had been dead for weeks.
Dental records confirmed the woman in the grave was Anna. Results from an autopsy by the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office listed her cause of death as a probable drug overdose or traumatic asphyxia.
Her estimated date of death was July 16, just as the wildflowers were blooming.
The days before
Law enforcement’s quest to find out why this 21-year-old woman ended up dead in the woods, 2,300 miles away from her hometown, led them to Salem, where Anna lived with her husband.
She was last seen when Henry picked her up from Salem Health hospital. She was admitted to the emergency room on July 14 with self-inflicted cuts to her legs, according to a violation report filed in Marion County.
Henry, 41, was not supposed to be in contact with his wife.
While still on probation for his drug conviction, Henry was arrested in September 2015 and charged with assaulting and strangling Anna.
The charges were dismissed after Anna wrote a letter to the judge claiming Henry had restrained and strangled her to keep her from hurting herself. Henry’s supervised probation was extended. He was ordered to have no contact with Anna and attend a batterer intervention program.
After violating the protective order and picking his wife up from the hospital in July, Henry stopped returning his probation officer’s calls, and his mother contacted police and reported that Henry had stolen her car.
When he resurfaced a week later, Henry denied being with Anna and told his probation officer he wanted to move to Alaska to live with his son.
Anna’s sister called Henry on Sept. 1. He told her he hadn’t seen his wife since picking her up from the hospital and said she’d left him for a stranger.
Seven days later, her body was found.
On Sept. 21, investigators from the Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office, Tillamook City Police and Oregon State Police served a search warrant at Henry’s residence in East Salem and seized a vehicle once belonging to the couple.
Henry was arrested for violating his probation by contacting Anna and drinking alcohol. Soon after, a Tillamook County grand jury indicted Henry on one count of second-degree manslaughter for his role in Proietti’s death. He was taken to Tillamook County jail and held on a $50,000 full cash bail.
According to an obituary published in her hometown of Danville, Illinois, Anna graduated from Fountain Central High School in Indiana in 2012 and went on to attend Indiana University. Family described her as a brilliant musician and gentle spirit. She played a variety of instruments and was an accomplished flutist. Family members wrote that she loved cats, online gaming and Italian food.
According to court records, Anna had a history of self-harm and suicide attempts.
After dropping out of Indiana University, Proietti met Henry online and moved to Oregon.
The suicide pact
According to court documents, Henry was accused of helping his wife commit suicide on July 16.
Henry told detectives he and Anna made a “suicide pact,” according to court records. The plan, he said, was for them to go to a remote area and commit suicide together.
He admitted to being with Anna at the time of her death.
After months of hearings, the Tillamook County District Attorney’s Office reduced the manslaughter charge to attempted second-degree manslaughter. Henry pleaded guilty on Monday and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Very little case law is available on cases involving aiding in suicide. In his more than 31 years as a prosecutor, Tillamook County District Attorney William Porter said he’s never handled a case involving assisted suicide, an act which is legal under certain, different circumstances in Oregon. He worried the very unusual set of circumstances surrounding the case could lead to jury confusion.
Given Proietti’s history of suicide attempts and Henry’s own mental health issues, Porter said, he was inclined to offer a negotiated plea. Normally, attempted manslaughter would carry a presumptive sentence of 15 to 18 months in prison. Under the plea agreement, Henry will serve double that.