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Thursday 17 August 2017

Mayo father suspected of killing wife, attacking son - then taking own life

Relatives fly home in advance of funerals of Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald, while son Paul lies critically ill in hospital

Main: A hearse drives up a sealed-off road towards the Fitzgeralds’ home in Knockadoon, Co Mayo. Photo: Steve Humphreys; Insets: Tom Fitzgerald and his wife Kitty
Main: A hearse drives up a sealed-off road towards the Fitzgeralds’ home in Knockadoon, Co Mayo. Photo: Steve Humphreys; Insets: Tom Fitzgerald and his wife Kitty
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Gardai are investigating whether a painter decorator from Mayo attacked his wife and son before taking his own life, in a brutal murder-suicide that has numbed the local community.

The body of Tom Fitzgerald (75) was found in the farmyard outside the family home near Irishtown on Tuesday while his wife Kitty (72) was discovered in a pool of blood inside the property. Their son Paul was discovered elsewhere in the house, suffering from serious head injuries.

Grim discovery: Fr Martin O'Connor says prayers as the bodies of Tom Fitzgerald, and his wife Kitty are removed from their isolated country home near Irishtown, Co Mayo Photo: Steve Humphreys
Grim discovery: Fr Martin O'Connor says prayers as the bodies of Tom Fitzgerald, and his wife Kitty are removed from their isolated country home near Irishtown, Co Mayo Photo: Steve Humphreys

The tragedy has shocked the close-knit village of Irishtown, where Tom and Kitty were deeply involved in the local community.

In a statement yesterday, gardai said they were not looking for anyone else in relation to the couple's deaths, indicating that they were as a result of murder-suicide.

According to one Garda source, detectives are investigating whether Mr Fitzgerald was attacking his wife when Paul tried to intervene, only to be attacked by his father.

Paul suffered serious head injuries that are thought to have been caused by a blunt implement. His mother is also believed to have suffered serious head wounds in the attack.

Kitty Fitzgerald
Kitty Fitzgerald

The bodies of the Fitzgeralds and their injured son were discovered at around 3pm on Tuesday by a local person who called at the family home in Knockadoon, just outside Irishtown.

It was not clear when the violent attack occurred but Garda are investigating the events at Knockadoon since last Sunday.

In a statement yesterday morning, gardai said the results of the double autopsy had been passed to the investigating team but would not be released publicly for operational reasons.

It is understood that detectives with the Garda technical bureau spent days at the Fitzgeralds' home, gathering forensic evidence from the scene and trying to piece together the facts of what happened.

Tom Fitzgerald
Tom Fitzgerald

The evidence removed for forensic examination is believed to include a large metal bar found at the scene which may have been used in the attacks.

Paul Fitzgerald remained in a critical but stable condition at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin yesterday. Meanwhile arrangements are being made for the funerals of his parents, whose remains were released to the family on Friday.

Several of both Kitty and Tom's siblings lived locally. Other relatives of the couple flew in from New York and from Texas this weekend and the funerals are expected to take place in the coming days.

The violent manner of the couple's deaths has shocked local people.

Mr Fitzgerald was a painter and decorator, as was Paul, who lived in Galway. They often worked together and were seen together over a week ago decorating a house in Irishtown.

As a family, they were deeply embedded in their local community. Tom was a former chairman of the community council, was heavily involved in Davitts GAA club, for which he once played, and was a member of the local amateur dramatics group. Kitty was involved in the choir. Both were devout church-goers.

Tributes have poured in for the couple. Fr Martin O'Connor said last week that the Fitzgeralds were very popular in the area. "We obviously are stunned and heartbroken because Tom and Kitty were both very involved in our community," he said. "And not only that but they were friends and we've lost two good friends. They were lovely people - both of them were involved in the local church here."

Yesterday gardai issued an appeal for witnesses who saw anything unusual in Knockadoon last Sunday night or Tuesday afternoon to contact them at Claremorris garda station on 094-9372080 or call the Garda confidential line, 1800 666 111.

Sunday Independent

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