Remains of Irish woman missing in Italy found
Published 13/03/2010 | 05:00
DNA tests carried out on a skull found on an Italian mountain have confirmed it is that of an Irish tourist who went missing two years ago.
Widow Mairead Geary (82) disappeared after setting off for a walk on the 1,500m Mount Mottarone at Stresa, in Italy's northern lakes region in October 2008. She was last seen as she left her hotel and told fellow holidaymakers she was taking the cable car to the top.
She was reported missing when she failed to return to the four-star Hotel Astoria in Stresa. Police, volunteers and mountain rescue teams, assisted by a helicopter, searched for her.
No trace of her was found and the search was called off. A few weeks later it resumed after Mrs Geary's family consulted a medium who said she had seen Mrs Geary "by the lakeside". This proved fruitless.
Last October, a year after she went missing, a mushroom picker found part of a human skull while out walking in the forest about a kilometre from the hotel, and called police.
The skull, which was missing the lower jaw, was sent for forensic test which confirmed it as "99pc compatible'' with Mrs Geary's family. A police spokesman in Stresa said: "No other remains were found at the site and it's very likely that animals have disturbed the site and the rest of the remains have been scattered.
"The skull was tested by specialists in Parma and it was found to be 99pc compatible with the family of Mrs Geary and we are satisfied that it is her remains given the location where the skull was found.''
Mrs Geary was from Limerick. Last night in a statement her family said: "We have been advised by the Italian authorities that DNA tests conducted recently have confirmed that remains found in the Stresa area in October 2009 are those of Mairead.
"The Geary family would like to express their gratitude to the Soccorso Alpino, the local carabineri in Stresa, An Garda Siochana, the staff at the Embassy of Ireland in Rome and to all the volunteers who assisted in the search for Mairead."