Gardai: ‘Highly unlikely’ missing Aoife was victim of foul play
GARDAI now believe it is "highly unlikely" that a 30-year-old woman who has been missing for five days was the victim of foul play.
No trace has been found of missing childminder Aoife Phelan since last Thursday night.
Intensive searches are continuing in Co Laois for the missing woman.
Sources have revealed that officers “have no indication whatsover” that Ms Phelan has been harmed by anyone else.
Aoife – who told her family that she was four months pregnant – had a brief relationship with a local man, who is understood to be abroad now.
The Herald understands that the highly respected local man, who is well-known in local GAA circles, has not returned to Ireland from overseas and had left the country before Aoife disappeared.
It is understood that he has been in communication with gardai and is expected to return home to Ballyroan, Co Laois, at a later date.
He is not suspected of any wrongdoing in the case and is understood not to have known Aoife very well.
Gardai are still keeping an open mind on the mystery disappearance and they are conducting detailed searches in Co Laois.
Yesterday, Aoife’s mother Betty made an emotional plea, saying: “She's a very bubbly person and it is totally out of character for Aoife not to have been in contact with some of her family, so we are very, very concerned at the moment.
Aoife, if you are out there somewhere, please contact us.”
Aoife, one of 12 children, was fine before her disappearance, she added. “She was in good humour, no sign of distress or anything like that,” Betty explained.
She said Aoife's family, in Ballyroan, just outside Portlaoise, were devastated.
“We are all over the place at the moment. We aren't sleeping, we are not eating and it's just unreal.
“You don't think it's going to hit your door, you know, you read about these things in the papers and your heart goes out to the families, but at the same time, you don't think it's going to happen to me... we are just in limbo at the moment.”
Speaking at a press conference to appeal for help, Superintendent Yvonne Lundon
said that gardai echoed the family's concerns about Aoife's welfare. Supt Lundon said: “We are investigating all avenues in relation to information that is forthcoming and we have conducted a number of inquiries with a wide range of people who have come forward to us.
“We have conducted a number of searches and those searches are ongoing.”
Aoife is described as around 5ft 7ins in height, of slim build, with long blonde/sandy-coloured hair and blue eyes.
She was wearing jeans and a knitted jumper. She also has a red bomber-style jacket and was wearing a silver St Christopher medal and black Ugg-style boots.
Anyone who can assist is asked to contact Portlaoise Garda Station on 057-8674100, the Garda Confidential Telephone Line 1800 666 111 or any garda station.