IT was a story that at first seemed to be neatly tied up in a happy ending but now trails off with a sinister ellipsis.
At the Swiftbrook Glen housing estate in Virginia, Co Cavan, questions remain as to what exactly happened here. Small fragments of car debris on the side of the road are all that remain of last week's dramatic struggle.
On Tuesday afternoon local resident Richie O'Donovan (32) was snatched from outside his home by three armed raiders. There was no outcry at O'Donovan's disappearance. He was not known well locally having just moved to the area from another part of Cavan to be with his Latvian girlfriend several months ago.
Before that he had lived in Navan, where he is originally from. Rumours abounded that he was involved in low-level crime. "It sort of fit that something like this might have happened to him," one resident told the Sunday Independent.
O'Donovan's distraught girlfriend and two neighbours were amongst those who witnessed his dramatic abduction last Tuesday. They had noticed a silver 4x4 parked on the road leading into the estate. It had been there since early morning and appeared to be empty.
As O'Donovan made his way into the estate, however, the vehicle drove up behind his BMW 3 series and slammed into the front right side of the car in what is believed to have been a "staged" collision.
O'Donovan's car swerved to a halt and two masked men leapt out and made their way towards O'Donovan. One witness told the Sunday Independent that O'Donovan reacted "lightening fast" and reversed his car quickly back on to the road and sped off away from the attackers.
Up ahead, however, a collision between two other cars blocked off the road and this provided time for the thugs to catch up with O'Donovan. They dragged him from the car and began beating him around the head before bundling him into the 4x4.
By then local residents had called emergency services. For the next 19 hours, gardai mounted an extensive search operation for the separated father of three. Gardai believed O'Donovan was in danger of losing his life and a source described the situation as a "race against time".
It was just after 10am the next morning when he contacted gardai to tell them that he had survived and was being treated at Cavan General Hospital. His injuries were not life threatening and he had since been discharged.
However, gardai were still keen to speak to O'Donovan. In the aftermath of his disappearance it emerged that he has a string of previous convictions, including one for assault and one for possession of cocaine. He was fined €500 in 2005 for assault and fined the same sum for same offence again in 2009.
In December 2011, he was caught with a small amount of cocaine at Market Square in Navan and was later fined €1,200 by the courts. Despite this O'Donovan is not thought to be a major figure in the world of crime.
"It's more likely that he stepped on some rather powerful toes," one source told the Sunday Independent.
O'Donovan, however, has denied that his abduction had any connection with his drug past. Neighbours and gardai were told that he had been the victim of a "road rage" incident. However, local sources confirmed that in the past few months he had several "unwanted callers" to his previous address in Cavan and had moved to Swiftbrook both to be with his girlfriend and to distance himself from these groups.
Gardai were investigating the possibility that he may have fallen foul of an organised drugs gang, which has been involved in a series of violent incidents along the border in recent months.
There was no answer from O'Donovan's home on Friday and the neighbours remained wary. "It's incredible that something like this could happen in a quiet area like this and with children around" one local said.
"There's relief that nobody was killed, but what was behind all this?
"That's what everyone here wants to know now."