THE prime suspect for the murder of Tipperary man Bobby Ryan is on the brink of a nervous breakdown and expected to confess his role in the crime.
The man, who gardai now believe beat Mr Ryan (52) to death before dumping him in a disused slurry pit on farmland at Fawnagown outside Tipperary town, was also questioned by detectives two weeks ago about a break-in.
Mr Ryan, a part-time DJ from Cashel who used the stage name Mr Moonlight, vanished without trace on June 3, 2011.
The separated father of two grown-up children had been in a relationship with widow Mary Lowry, the owner of the farm on the Tipperary-Bansha Road.
Ms Lowry, a mother of three, lost her husband Martin to cancer in 2007.
Mr Ryan was last seen alive when he left Ms Lowry's home shortly after 6 on the morning he disappeared to go to work in a nearby quarry.
He never turned up and his partner later reported him missing to gardai.
It is understood that officers conducted a search of the lands around the farmhouse but did not search the disused slurry pit, which was covered by undergrowth and a concrete slab.
Nothing more was heard about the missing man until his body was discovered last Tuesday by farmer Pat Quirke, a brother-in-law of Ms Lowry's late husband, who has leased the land since his death in 2007.
Local sources say the suspect has never shown violent tendencies in the past.
Gardai have also been investigating a number of break-ins at the Lowry farmhouse since Mr Ryan vanished – including one on March 15 – which they believe were carried out by the killer.
On that occasion, Ms Lowry was attending her father's funeral and investigators believe the burglar/killer was aware that she would be absent from the property.
As part of their investigations, gardai have also been examining footage from a CCTV system, which Ms Lowry had secretly installed at her home following the break-ins.
Detectives are also aware that the suspected killer warned the dead man to stay away from Ms Lowry in the months before his disappearance.
The murder investigation, which is being carried out from Tipperary garda station, is expected to make a significant breakthrough over the coming days.
Gardai are to get DNA test results tomorrow, which are expected to positively identify the decomposed remains as those of the missing man.
Gardai are also planning to mount an operation early next week in a bid to jog people's memories about what they might have seen on the day Mr Ryan disappeared.
They are particularly anxious to hear from members of the public who might have spotted him or spoken to him that day.
For almost two years, the victim's brother John Ryan has made numerous appeals for information on the whereabouts of Bobby, who was described as very popular in his hometown of Cashel.
Speaking to the Irish Independent yesterday, John Ryan said they were awaiting formal confirmation from gardai before they could lay their brother to rest.
"We'd like to have him back at this stage. The man deserves a decent burial," he said.
"But the guards have to do what the guards have to do and we understand that."
John Ryan said the DNA test results were due back tomorrow at the earliest but could take longer.
A funeral for the slain 52-year-old will be held in Cashel, Co Tipperary, once his remains are returned to his family.