MURDERED father of six Christy Daly was suspected by a local drugs trafficker of stealing one of his consignments, it has emerged.
Investigating gardai now believe that the suspected drugs theft is the motive for the savage shooting.
The body of Mr Daly (47) was found sitting upright in a six-foot drain near bogland in Co Offaly more than a week after he had been murdered.
A post-mortem examination confirmed he had been shot several times in the body with a handgun.
Gardai think his killers are linked to an ongoing feud involving a number of Traveller gangs, who are involved in the drugs trade and other serious crime in the Midlands.
But they are satisfied that Mr Daly was not connected directly to the feud.
The disappearance of a stash of drugs that had been hidden in the Tullamore-Clara area in recent weeks is thought to have sparked off the row that led to the shooting.
Mr Daly's caravan and two cars, which were parked in an area known as the Bog Road, Kilbride, four kilometres outside Clara, were burnt out around the time of the shooting.
Gardai said Mr Daly was murdered last Sunday week.
Inspector Kieran Keyes said the last positive sighting was in the Clara Road area of Tullamore on December 29 at around 8.30pm.
Officers are now trying to trace witnesses who saw him that night in the Tullamore area or closer to the spot where his body was found in a garda search on Tuesday morning. They are also anxious to talk to anybody who heard gunshots at Bog Road or noticed the caravan and cars on fire.
Gardai have ruled out any link between the shooting and allegations of sex assaults that had been lodged against Mr Daly by a number of women.
Those allegations were investigated by gardai and a file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, but no criminal charges were brought against him as a result.
Officers said that Mr Daly was not known to them as a drug dealer. But he appeared to have fallen foul of one of the gangs involved in the feud when the drugs consignment went missing.
Gardai renewed their appeal to anybody with information to contact them at Tullamore station, 057 9327600, or on the confidential line, 1800 666111.