THE family of missing Jo Jo Dullard have said they are hoping against hope that the skeletal remains found in the Dublin Mountains are identified as her.
Gardai investigating the discovery of the remains face a week-long wait to establish if she is one of 19 missing women on their DNA database.
However, early speculation that the body was that of missing student Annie McCarrick was dampened after clothes that were found nearby indicated that the dead person was a larger woman.
The grim discovery in undergrowth close to a popular viewing spot on the Killakee Road sparked reports that the body may be that of one of three women who are believed to have been abducted and murdered by a serial killer.
Sex offender Larry Murphy is the prime suspect in the disappearance of the three women – Jo Jo Dullard, Annie McCarrick and Deirdre Jacob – in the 1990s.
The remains discovered on Friday evening were found just 9km from where American student Annie McCarrick was last seen – in Johnny Fox's pub in Glencullen, Co Wicklow, in 1993.
However, garda sources said that the discovery is likely to be unrelated to these high-profile cases.
And Ms Dullard’s family also believe it is unlikely to end their agony which stretches back to 1995.
“We heard it was a female. You are hopeful but you are always guarding yourself,” her sister Kathleen said on Newstalk Radio this morning.
“You are always afraid that you will be let down again,” said Kathleen, “But you have to keep hoping that one day a miracle will happen and we will find her.
“To actually find out that a loved one has been murdered is horrific,” she said as she appealed for information that would help identify the woman found in the Dublin Mountains.
“Some family is looking for closure. Our hearts go out to them as we know exactly how that feels.”
“End this nightmare for some family,” said Kathleen.
A sample from one of the recovered bones will be delivered to the Forensic Science Laboratory this morning.
A DNA profile will be compiled and then compared to the DNA of the missing women, who were the subject of a major garda investigation dubbed Operation Trace, which was set up 15 years ago.
The jawbone that was recovered will also be compared to dental records of the missing women in a bid to confirm the identity of the remains.
So far, a tibia, fibula, a jaw bone and part of a pelvic bone have been recovered by gardai, who have confirmed they belong to a woman aged between 25 and 40 years of age.
The remains were examined at the scene by the deputy state pathologist and a forensic anthropologist.
Sources revealed that the deceased woman was "heavy set" but have been unable to determine her height because most of the completely decomposed body has still not been found.
Officers also discovered two size seven runners close to where the remains were found, and part of a size 16 tracksuit.
Gardai are continuing to comb the area to locate the rest of the remains, which have been there for at least two years and possibly longer.
A senior source told the Irish Independent: "We won't be able to ascertain a cause of death until we locate the rest of the remains. A DNA sample is to be compared to those of all the women who are currently classified as missing.
"The case files on all missing women are also being examined to compare their physical descriptions to narrow down the inquiry, but it will take some time."
Other high-profile disappearances include those of Fiona Pender (25), from Tullamore in 1996, and Fiona Sinnott from Bridgetown, Co Wexford, in 1998.
The grim discovery was made on Friday evening by a woman out walking her dog in a private forest at Killakee in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains.
The dog found the remains in undergrowth 200 yards from the Killakee Road but it was still unclear last night if the body had been deliberately concealed.
Gardai have not ruled out the possibility that the newly discovered remains were simply those of a woman who died from non-violent causes while walking in the area, or who may have taken her own life.