Missing woman found shot dead in boot of car
Published 23/06/2010 | 05:00
The body of a young woman who had been missing from her home for the past six weeks was found in the boot of a car yesterday evening. She was believed to have been shot.
Gardai confirmed that the woman was 30-year-old Helen Donegan, who had been last seen alive at her home at St Patrick's Park, Celbridge, in north Kildare around 8am on May 6.
Officers investigating her disappearance had carried out a number of searches in north Kildare and south Dublin in the past week.
The breakthrough came around 5pm yesterday when gardai searched the boot of a Saab car at a rented garage off Aylmer Road in Newcastle, Co Dublin.
The body was in a badly decomposed state and gardai said they would not be able to establish the cause of death until a post-mortem examination had been carried out today by State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy.
However, it is understood that initial inquiries suggested that she had been shot dead.
The Saab was in a large yard for cars. Allotments used for agriculture were close by. Gardai last night erected a tent at the crime scene.
The area around the garage was sealed off last night and preserved for a detailed examination by garda forensic experts from the technical bureau in Phoenix Park.
Gardai last night contacted her partner, who is in his early 50s, and informed him about the grim find in the garage.
Ms Donegan is originally from Ballyfermot but had been living in the house at St Patrick's Park since September.
Her parents, who live in the south west of the country, were on their way to meet garda investigators late last night after they were notified about the discovery.
Gardai from Leixlip and Clondalkin joined forces last night as the investigation was stepped up. But it cannot be declared a murder inquiry until the cause of death has been confirmed by the post-mortem examination.
A renewed appeal for help from the public was issued by the gardai 11 days ago when they became increasingly concerned for her welfare and all efforts to locate her had failed.
Ms Donegan lived in a rented annex to a house at the end of a set of terraced homes in St Patrick's Park in Celbridge.
Last night neighbours reported that she had lived there with a partner from September last year until her disappearance in May. Neighbours said they knew little about the woman as she only lived there a short time.
"I would have seen her going out, but she wasn't there that long. Even when I saw her photo in the newspaper I didn't recognise her," one neighbour said.
Gardai carried out door-to door interviews and checked local CCTV images from pubs and premises in Celbridge after she vanished.
"I don't think anyone knew her that well," said a mother who lived close to her. "She was there for about nine months."
Another local, who lived close to Ms Donegan, said he had never seen her.
"There were very few people around when she went missing," he added.