Monday 26 September 2016

Con woman’s ashes claimed by mystery mourner

Gardai wait for toxicology reports on suicide couple Julia Holmes and Thomas Ruttle

Published 14/06/2015 | 02:30

Julia Holmes and Thomas Ruttle
Julia Holmes and Thomas Ruttle
MULTIPLE ALIASES: Julia Holmes

The ashes of the despised bigamist and con woman known as Julia Holmes have been reclaimed from a Cork crematorium and returned to Askeaton by a mystery mourner.

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Ms Holmes, who committed a string of frauds in several countries using many aliases was found dead alongside her husband, Thomas Ruttle, last month in an upstairs room at his farmhouse in the townland of Boolaglass in a suspected suicide pact.

Her final wish was to be buried alongside the man she called her husband, a local farmer and bee keeper whom she had met on the internet. But while Thomas Ruttle was laid to rest at the St Mary's Church of Ireland, her body remained unclaimed in the morgue at University Hospital Limerick for almost two weeks.

She was disowned by her son, whom she had abandoned as a baby. He refused to bury her. Her remains were eventually taken to the Island Crematorium in Cork where she was cremated last Wednesday week.

However, someone has taken pity on Ms Holmes. The Sunday Independent has learnt that her ashes were collected and are believed to have been returned to Askeaton. The local funeral director Kieran Madigan declined to disclose by whom.

Her son, Paul, told a Belfast newspaper last month that he wanted nothing to do with her and would not be going to her funeral. "I never wanted anything to do with the person I know as Celia McKitterick, who is also known as Julia Holmes and by many other false names."

Rev Keith Scott, who presided over Thomas Ruttle's funeral service, said: "The family are devastated, that is the best I can tell you. They have a lot to process and a lot to get around."

Julia Holmes is thought to be one of 20 aliases used by the woman who was born Celia McKitterick in Co Down. She gave birth to a son, whom she abandoned at the age of six months. She left him to be raised by her grandparents while she later moved to the US, where she married a Texan without divorcing her first husband.

When she met Thomas Ruttle in 2011, she was a convicted fugitive fraudster who was the subject of Garda, PSNI and FBI investigations. She married him bigamously, and capitalised on his bee keeping to run a market stall and fraudulently passed off commercially produced honey as her own artisan product. She used different aliases, claimed she was pregnant and miscarried, and that she had terminal cancer.

At around 3am on May 18, burglars who broke into the farmhouse discovered the badly decomposed bodies side by side on a double bed. The thieves alerted the police.

Gardai still don't know how the couple died and toxicology reports are expected to take another couple of weeks. A shotgun by their bed was not used and it is suspected that the couple may have deliberately exposed themselves to carbon monoxide poisoning. They left a note requesting that they be buried together.

Gardai are also trying to pinpoint the date of their deaths for a forthcoming inquest. It is believed they died in the first week in April as witnesses have come forward to confirm their interactions with the couple at that time. Online bloggers who were trying to trace Julia Holmes in the months before her death say that there was evidence of online activity by April 7.

Sunday Independent

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