Thursday 20 October 2016

'Please tell me where my Annie's body lies buried'

Published 02/07/2006 | 00:11

NICOLA TALLANT THE mother of missing student Annie McCarrick has appealed to her killer to hand over her daughter's body.

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In a rare interview, Nancy McCarrick said it would be a "great kindness" to know where her daughter is. "It would just make a difference. Even after all these years, it would be a great kindness to know. Where she is really only has to do with the person who harmed her," she said.

Nancy last saw her daughter on January 6, 1993 when she boarded a plane in the United States to start a new life here in Ireland. Annie McCarrick disappeared on Friday, March 26 after telling friends she was going to Enniskerry for a walk in the countryside.

Her disappearance has been one of the biggest missing person cases on Garda files, and officers suspect she may have been murdered by a serial killer preying on women. Nancy was due in Ireland to see her daughter just days after Annie disappeared but arrived to find a police investigation into her disappearance already under way. She says her daughter had fallen in love with Ireland after studying here a number of years previously and had hoped to spend her life here.

"She was very outgoing but shy as well. And she was very funny and she loved school and she just very much enjoyed life. Yes, she loved Ireland so much. Ireland wasn't any further than California, so it never seemed that far away.

"Annie had gone to Ireland in the fall of 1987 to St Patrick's in Drumcondra but she wanted to go back to see if she could make a life there. She returned in January 1993 and had disappeared by March," Nancy said.

Annie's friend, Geraldine Delaney, who shared a Sandymount flat with the American student, tells next week's Cracking Crime documentary that she quickly settled in and got a job in a local cafe.

"She loved life and she loved being in Ireland. She felt she had arrived and it was where she wanted to be and where she wanted to live and wanted to work for the rest of her life," Geraldine said.

On March 26 that year, Annie's flatmates went away for the weekend, leaving their friend to plan a dinner party for some other friends the following evening. That day she called another pal and told her she was taking a bus to Enniskerry to go for a walk. She was spotted getting on the number 18 bus in Sandymount and then standing in the queue for the Ranelagh bus to Enniskerry.

But the next evening, when friends arrived for dinner, there was no reply at the Sandymount flat. They became concerned and even called Annie's parents in Long Island. One of the friends, Hilary, spoke to Nancy and John.

"Hilary rang from outside the flat in the evening. It was afternoon in New York. That was it and I didn't really think anything of it at all. By the Sunday, there was no sign of her and he visited the cafe where she worked.

"He rang the following Monday and said that nobody had seen her since the previous Friday. I was planning on visiting and was due to fly out that Thursday. I went the Monday instead but I wasn't that frightened. I just didn't know where she was.

"I arrived in Ireland and realised that nobody had seen her and that she was nowhere to be found," Nancy said.

Retired Detective Garda Tom Rock says that by the Sunday evening, officers were alerted to Annie's disappearance. In the following weeks, they traced her to Enniskerry where a post office worker believed she sold her stamps. They received witness reports that she had a drink with a man in Johnny Fox's pub and conducted huge searches of woodlands, rivers and lakes around the area.

All the time Nancy believed that her daughter would be found, saying that the worst she expected was that she would be hurt.

"My greatest fear was that she had been in an accident and we wouldn't find her in time. I reckoned she had slipped or fallen or that something had happened to her in the park. My fear was that we didn't know where she was and that we weren't looking in the right place," she said.

In the course of the investigation, as well as the usual methods, gardai also used unconventional means including clairvoyants who believed they could pinpoint where Annie's body was buried in the large area of forest and bogland around Enniskerry.

"We were prepared to listen to information or help from everyone. Clairvoyants came forward and said she could be located. We were prepared to listen to anything. But nothing came from water, land or lake searches. Nothing came up and nobody was found. There was no trace of personal belongings or anything like that," said Det Garda Rock.

Doorman Sam Doran, who was working in Johnny Fox's pub, is convinced that he saw Annie McCarrick on the night of her disappearance with a man. "The pictures were in the papers. Paul O'Reilly, the other doorman, had seen her picture first and came along to me and said 'isn't that the girl we saw going into the back the other night?' The back was where the Hooley Room is - a large room, popular on a Friday night with maybe 200 people in there.

"That night a girl turned the corner and we said there was a cover charge of £2. She stopped and looked into her handbag and went through it. She was taking her purse out and looking at the gentleman with her to pay. Then they went into the lounge where the band were playing."

The sighting was the last of Annie and for 13 years it has frustrated gardai who are able to place the missing girl in Johnny Fox's but who have never been able to take her out of the pub.

During the investigation, any person with a history of sexual assaults was investigated. Recently convicted rapist, Larry Murphy was questioned about the disappearance of Annie but he told officers he knew nothing.

Gardai are also investigating connections with 'Wolfman' Robert Howard, later convicted of the murder of 14-year-old Hannah Williams in Kent in 2001. One year after Annie's disappearance, Howard was the last person to see 15-year-old Arlene Arkinson alive.

Arlene disappeared after a night out in Bundoran, Co Donegal in 1994. Howard, a dangerous sexual predator, had dropped off some other people before driving away with Arlene. He claimed that he had dropped her off in Castlederg, Co Tyrone. Arlene's body has never been found.

Howard, from Wolfhill in Co Laois, moved easily between the Republic and the North, and across the Irish Sea to England and Scotland.

Crime author Barry Cummins says that whoever attacked Annie may have needed just a few seconds to disarm her.

"The most violent people living in this country need just a second or two to disarm a person. This Irish American came to live here and loved Irish culture. She would have spoken to people willingly," he said.

"Someone gained her trust - minutes or hours or even seconds before the attack. Since her disappearance a number of men have emerged, family men who had been living quiet lives but who are now serving time for murder and sex attacks. None was looked at back then as suspects," Barry Cummins said.

Retired Detective Garda Rock says Larry Murphy, caught after abducting a young hairdresser, is a prime suspect. Larry Murphy, from Baltinglass, Co Wicklow, was jailed for 15 years for the abduction, rape and attempted murder of a woman in February, 200.

"He was caught late at night with her tied and bound. Naturally enough, a crime like that leads one to investigate. But at the moment, we have nothing directly to link him to the disappearance of Annie McCarrick.

"It is so easy to dispose of a body and it is so difficult to find it," he said.

Cracking Crime will be shown on RTE1, Tuesday at 9.30pm

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