A WOMAN, whose body is being exhumed from a cemetery in Athlone today, is feared to be the fourth victim of a multiple killer.
As part of a joint operation involving gardai and police in Birmingham, a post mortem examination will be carried out by State pathologist John Harbison on the body of Patricia Lynott (47).
Ms Lynott, who is originally from the Athlone area, emigrated to Birmingham more than five years ago. Her husband and two children lived in Athlone.
Her body was found in her flat in Birmingham on October 23 and police initially treated the incident as a sudden death.
Ms Lynott's body was subsequently released by the British authorities and returned to Athlone where her body was buried in a cemetery at Cornamagh.
But following a fresh examination of her death, UK police are now describing it as suspicious and gardai have agreed to the body being exhumed.
The body will be moved to Dublin for the post mortem and later returned to Athlone for re-burial.
The dramatic move in the investigation is linked to a separate probe into the murders of three women in the Birmingham area in November. Police believe the three crimes are connected.
A 35-year-old man from the Sparkbrook area of Birmingham has already been charged in court in connection with those deaths.
The three women were: Jodie Hyde (21), from Alunrock, Birmingham, who was found strangled in Sparkbrook on November 9. Her body was then set alight.
Rosemary Corcoran (25), from Droitwich, Worcestershire, who was found beaten to death on November 12. And Carol Jordan (39), a care worker, who was also found beaten to death on November 12 at Balsall Heath in Birmingham.
Police made an arrest within a week of the three murders.
They now believe Ms Lynott may have been another victim of the multiple killer but at this stage, pending the outcome of the post mortem, are treating her death as suspicious.
Gardai in Athlone last night said their role was confined to assisting the Birmingham police in their investigation.