Grieving families recall the nightmare of waiting
The disappearance and tragic discovery of the remains of Karen Buckley has brought back painful memories for the families of two Irish women who died amid similarly devastating circumstances.
Joan Meagher, the mother-in-law of Jill Meagher (29), who was murdered on a night out in Australia two-and-a-half years ago, has told how her stomach was "sick" when she heard of the disappearance of Karen Buckley and said her heart is breaking for her family.
"I'm so glad they found her," she said.
She told of the nightmare scenario endured by a family amid such circumstances, with an agonising wait for news - which may never even come.
"Those girls who disappeared in the midlands in the 1990s - their families never, ever found out what happened to them and that must be just appalling for them," she said.
"You spend every second waiting to hear something. Some people never hear what happened and horrible though this is, at least they know now and they have Karen's remains back."
Jill Meagher, who was originally from Drogheda, Co Louth, was reported missing in Melbourne, Australia in September 2012 after she failed to return from a night out with work colleagues.
Her body was found six days later in a shallow grave about 55 kilometres from where she was last seen alive. Serial rapist Adrian Bayley was later jailed for her murder and rape.
Ms Meagher told the Irish Independent that her son, Tom, said he "would have spent the rest of his life" waiting for his beloved wife, Jill, to turn up some day if her body had never been found.
"It's absolutely appalling what they're going through now," she said of the grieving family of the Cork student, whose remains were identified yesterday.
"She was such a young girl who was on an ordinary night out." She said the situation had brought home the harrowing similarities between her death and the death of her own daughter-in-law.
"They were both on an ordinary night out. Jill was within a couple of minutes of where she lived. She never chatted with the man - he just lifted her off the street," she said.
Meanwhile, the father of murdered 21-year-old student Nicola Furlong, who was killed while on an exchange year in Tokyo, Japan, in May 2012, has also expressed his sorrow for the horror being endured by the family of Karen Buckley.
Andrew Furlong, from Curracloe, Co Wexford, said the moment he heard the news of Ms Buckley's disappearance, the memories of his beloved daughter's death, also on a night out, came flooding back.
And he recalled his disbelief when gardaí told him of his daughter's death, believing it was a mistake and somebody else had died.
"At the time I asked was it sure - I thought somebody else had stolen her passport - I wished it was somebody else," he admitted.
What the Buckley family are now going through is an "indescribable nightmare" and it's like being "on a different planet", he said.
"I still expect her to walk in the door someday," said Mr Furlong.