Sunday 11 December 2016

'I have cried almost every day but I never, ever gave up hope'

Published 11/02/2012 | 05:00

In Tileagd, Romania

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AMID the crumbling shacks and four-foot piles of snow, they brought Marioara Rostas the final yards on her long journey home.

When the Romanian teenager left her home village for Ireland four years ago, her friends and neighbours prayed she would carve out a better life.

They might not have expected to see her again, but none would have imagined that she would meet such a desperate end.

Within weeks of the Rostas family arriving in Dublin in December 2007, the 18-year-old had disappeared, beginning four years of heartache that reached a bitter climax in the snow of Tileagd yesterday.

Three weeks after remains were found buried deep in the foothills of the Wicklow mountains, Marioara finally came home.

Angel

Speaking through an interpreter to the Irish Independent, Marioara's father, Dimitri, fought back tears as he remembered his "angel girl".

"I've cried almost every day but I never gave up hope. I have nothing to my name except family. I prayed to God to find my daughter alive. But if God wanted her to die in this way then that is God's will.

"We were very poor when we arrived to Ireland in 2007 and we went there to beg on the streets. I wanted a better life for me and my family. I kept hoping my daughter would be found alive."

Her mother, also called Marioara, said: "I kept up hope that my daughter was alive but after a while I realised she was dead somewhere. I just knew; I think it is a mother's intuition.

"I started to pray to God and asked him for her body to be found so that she could be brought back home."

Her hopes were shattered as her remains were dug out of a shallow grave, a post-mortem confirming she died from a single gunshot wound.

Gardai believe she was held in a Dublin house against her will before her violent death.

Yesterday some of her meagre treasured possessions were placed in her coffin by her grief stricken parents.

A favourite red T-shirt, one of just three that she owned, a plastic watch, and a pair of much-loved Nike trainers.

The temperature dropped to minus 20 degrees as the family slowly lowered Marioara's coffin into the ground.

Dimitri said: "I wanted her home as soon as possible because her place is with us."

Despite the harrowing death endured by their daughter, the family insist they harbour no hate toward those who carried out the killing.

"I put my faith in justice and I believe justice will be served. All my hopes lies in the hands of the Irish police. Anger won't bring her back.

"We will definitely return to Ireland when there is a court case. I want to look into the eyes of the men who did this. They are monsters."

The Romanian Orthodox priest recited haunting graveside prayers as the snow fell steadily and the family huddled in the freezing temperatures.

Yesterday marked the beginning of healing process of sorts, as the Roma gypsy community said a final farewell to Marioara.

A steady stream of sympathisers arrived from early morning to the family's dilapidated home.

It is located in a 'gypsy ghetto' with a population of less than 200 people, all living in overwhelming poverty.

Just a few miles from the Hungarian border, nestled in the north-west of the country, the entire town has a population of just 2,000 people.

Poverty

The poverty from which the Rostas family fled was all around. Local women held tightly on to babies who looked emaciated.

The family's decision to move to Dublin in late 2007 was borne out of dire financial necessity -- there simply was not enough money to feed 11 children ranging in age from 10 to 22.

But the family soon left Ireland in grief after the harrowing loss of their daughter, and endured a four-year wait for confirmation that she was dead.

Details of her fate only compounded their misery, but at least they could come back to Dublin and prepare to bury their child.

Her father said: "My daughter is dead; there is nothing I can do to bring her back. Because her body was found in Ireland , I wanted to give Roma friends we made in Dublin the chance to pay their respects. There was a lot of emotion and crying -- I'll never forget it.

"She was a beautiful girl. She never went to school but her biggest dream was to have a family of her own and to have a husband and kids."

Detective Inspector Michael Cryan, along with Sergeant Paul Murphy and Garda Ofelia Hough, travelled from Ireland to attend the funeral to show their solidarity with the family.

"Being part of the investigation from the very start it was important for us to be present at her final resting place," said Det Inspector Cryan.

Irish Independent

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