Moors murders officer plays key role in search
Published 31/07/2010 | 05:00
A former senior British police officer who investigated the infamous Moors murders has played a key role in helping to locate the bodies of some of the 'disappeared'.
The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains decided five years ago to bring in Geoff Knupfer, who by then was a forensic archaeologist, to act as an adviser.
The commission was set up in May 1999 by the Irish and British governments to spearhead an investigation to trace the bodies of the disappeared and to act as a conduit with the paramilitaries responsible and with others who might have information about the location of their graves.
The commission has been involved in attempts to locate the bodies of 15 victims of violence including nine murders admitted by the Provisional IRA. On the morning it was formed, the body of Eamon Molloy, a north Belfast man who had disappeared in 1975, was left in an old graveyard at Faughart, Co Louth.
The remains of John McClory (17) and Brian McKinney (23), from west Belfast, were found later in bogland at Colgagh, Co Monaghan -- where what are believed to be Charlie Armstrong's remains were also located on Thursday.
The next breakthrough did not come until 2003 when the remains of Jean McConville were found by a man walking his dog on Shellig Hill beach in Co Louth. The 37-year-old mother of 10 had been abducted from her home by the Provisional IRA in December 1972 and killed.
In November 2008 the body of Danny McIlhone, who had been kidnapped and murdered by the IRA in 1981, was found during a dig at Ballynultagh, Wicklow.
Mr McIlhone was 21 years old when he went missing in west Belfast. The IRA later put out a statement claiming its members had been questioning him about stealing Provisional weapons when he was killed in a struggle with one of them. The IRA subsequently established, it said, that he had not taken the weapons.
Mr Armstrong's body will become the sixth to have been located. Still missing are Columba McVeigh (17), of Donaghmore, Co Tyrone; Kevin McKee and Seamus Wright, both 25, from Andersonstown, Belfast, in 1972; and Brendan Megraw (24) from Twinbrook, Belfast, kidnapped in 1981.