Friday 19 July 2019

The death of Ana Kriegel: a desperate search for a missing girl

Chronology of murder: A ring on the doorbell on a Monday evening in May set off a chain of events that would result in a crime that would stun the nation

Ana Kriegel
Ana Kriegel
The interior of Glenwood House in Lucan. Photo: Collins
Professor Marie Cassidy. Picture: Collins
The entrance to St Catherine’s Park. Picture: Collins
Gardaí search the derelict house and farmyard on the Clonee Road, Lucan, where Ana’s body was found. Picture: Collins

Eimear Cotter

Ana Kriegel was in her bedroom just before 5pm on Monday, May 14 last year when she was told Boy B was at the front door for her. Ana was "kind of confused" and asked "are you sure it's for me?". She came down and spoke to Boy B, then said she was going out.

Her father Patric Kriegel told Ana not to be long as she had to study for exams the following week.

"She answered me back, 'no, I won't be long'. I believe she meant it. I knew from the way she was saying it," he said. Ana gave her father a big smile when she left. He did not know who she had been talking to, but soon learned the boy's name.

Mr Kriegel had forgotten to ask where Ana was going so he looked out the window and saw she was going towards the park.

When Ana's mother Geraldine arrived home at 5.20pm she asked her husband where Ana was. He told her Ana had left the house with Boy B. "What's he doing with Ana?," she asked her husband. "He has nothing to do with her."

"Nobody called for Ana" because she had "no friends", she said. She texted Ana "home now". There was no answer, so she texted "answer me now or I'm calling the police".

Ms Kriegel then went searching the area, but she "couldn't see her anywhere". Ms Kriegel later contacted a friend, a retired detective, and he told her to go to the gardaí.

Shortly after 9pm the couple went to Leixlip garda station and reported Ana missing.

By 10.45pm, Garda Conor Muldoon was at Boy B's home, seeking his help in finding Ana.

Boy B told gardaí he'd called to Ana's home about 5pm, and walked with her towards the park.

They spoke briefly, he said, then they'd gone in different directions. The garda thanked Boy B for his help and returned to Leixlip garda station.

During the early hours of May 15, gardaí patrolled the area looking for Ana and checking her hangouts, but there was no sign of her.

They contacted local hospitals and repeatedly rang her mobile, but there was no ring tone.

May 15

On Tuesday Sergeant John Dunne called to Boy B's home, around 9am. Sgt Dunne said Boy B told him Ana was "fond" of his friend, but Boy A was "not interested in having a relationship with her".

Boy B told him he'd walked with Ana to the park, where they met with Boy A. The meeting had been arranged by Boy A to let Ana know he wasn't interested in her, it was alleged.

Sgt Dunne then asked Boy B's mother if he would retrace with gardaí the route he'd taken with Ana in the park the previous evening.

Sgt Dunne walked the route with Boy B, who pointed out where he and Ana had met Boy A.

Boy B showed Sgt Dunne where he'd last seen Ana. He said Ana went one way, and he and Boy A walked off in separate directions. That afternoon, Sgt Dunne called to Boy A's home, and asked if he would help gardaí retrace the route Ana walked.

Boy B also agreed to walk the route a second time. By now, Ana had been missing almost 24 hours.

At one point, the boys took a right turn on a wooded trail and Sgt Dunne asked Boy B if this was correct as he had previously gone left.

"Boy B stopped and he stated he went no further than this," Sgt Dunne said. "I observed Boy A having a glance, a look at him."

Nothing was said, he added, and Boy A denied it. It was then decided to take witness statements from the boys as there were inconsistencies in their accounts.

Meanwhile, Boy B was telling a counsellor he had been "dragged into this mess" by Boy A.

He didn't clarify what he meant by "this mess".

During their conversation, the counsellor noticed Boy B mentioned "around 10 times" that he was not the last person to see Ana. He told her he'd walked with Ana to the park, but left before her.

The counsellor said Boy B told her he had only been trying to do "a good turn for a mate" by calling to Ana's home and asking her to go to the park to meet Boy A.

Detective Garda Gabriel Newton expanded on this further. She said Boy B told her Ana had a crush on Boy A, and Boy A wanted to tell her he wasn't interested. Boy B said to her they met in the park because Boy A "didn't want to be seen" with Ana.

May 16

As gardaí were searching for Ana, there was a separate investigation into an alleged assault on Boy A in the park on the same evening Ana went missing.

Gda Newton met with Boy A and his parents around 7pm on May 16, and drove with Boy A and his dad to the park where the teen showed her where he said he had been assaulted.

Gda Newton said Boy A told her he was knocked to the ground and assaulted by two men. Boy A also gave the clothes and boots he was wearing at the time of the alleged assault to Gda Newton. She had told Boy A and his parents that there might be DNA or blood on the clothes which could help identify the culprits.

May 17

Boy A and his mother went to Garda Headquarters, where he spent three hours generating an evofit, or computer image, of his alleged attackers with Detective Garda Mairead Crowley. Gda Crowley said Boy A gave "a very good description" of both his attackers.

Meanwhile, Ana's family and friends were frantically searching for her. Gardaí from several stations had been joined in the search by over 50 members of the Civil Defence.

Sergeant Declan Birchall was in charge of the Divisional Search Team and his team of four was tasked to search the park where Ana was last seen for any signs of her.

The team searched along hedgerows and roadsides before reaching Glenwood House.

Garda Sean White was in a room at the front of the house when he saw what he thought was either a mannequin or "something terrible".

The lighting was poor and the room was dark. Gda White took in his surroundings and the smell of dried blood, and realised what he had found. He stepped back, as is procedure, and called out to Sgt Birchall.

Sgt Birchall walked into the room and saw the "body of a female lying on the floor". She was naked except for a pair of black socks.

Sgt Birchall noted blood at Ana's nose and her head was tilted back. There was a ligature or "noose" around her neck and she had three fingers inside it, as if she was "pulling it away". He checked for signs of life but there were none.

Glenwood House was sealed off and declared a crime scene.

Dr Muhammad Ghaffar officially pronounced Ana dead at 2.19pm. The garda technical team arrived to carry out an examination.

Detective Garda Eoin Conway first photographed the scene. He took pictures of bloodied clothing as well as a blood-stained concrete block and a length of timber in the room where Ana was found.

His colleague, Detective Garda Seamus O'Donnell, said there was "a lot of rubbish" in the room, and he catalogued anything he thought might be of probative value.

Retired State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy was next on the scene to complete an initial examination of Ana's body.

Ana's body was taken from the scene to allow Prof Cassidy conduct a post-mortem. She found Ana Kriegel died due to blunt force trauma to the head and neck.

Prof Cassidy also said there was evidence of penetration or attempted penetration.

The pathologist identified more than 50 areas of injury on the teenager's head and body.

Prof Cassidy said there were four separate impacts to Ana's head. She said they could have been caused by a heavy object with a small striking surface, or the corners of a larger object. However, she could not say what had caused these impacts.

She said there was extensive haemorrhaging to the soft tissue at the neck and Ana would have asphyxiated due to compression of the neck structure.

Prof Cassidy agreed, in cross-examination, that Ana suffered a "very horrific death".

John Hoade, an expert in blood pattern and DNA analysis, later said Ana was struck several times with a weapon as she lay on the floor in the derelict farmhouse.

Blood spatter on the wall indicated Ana was "struck several times with a weapon" in the corner on the left side as you entered the room.

The blood pattern was just above the skirting board and this indicated Ana's head was "in contact with the wall when she was struck".

Saturation blood staining on the carpet indicated Ana lay in that position for some time after she was assaulted, though Mr Hoade could not say for how long.

Ana's body subsequently moved or was moved to the back of the room, where her body was found.

There were further blood spatter patterns on a wall at the back of the room, which were higher than the skirting board. These indicated Ana had been assaulted when she was upright at the back of the room, he said.

In later evidence, Mr Hoade said a pair of boots worn by Boy A on the day Ana disappeared had her blood on them. Mr Hoade said there were nine separate areas of blood staining which were sampled for DNA and the DNA matched Ana's.

Mr Hoade said some of the staining on the boots could be identified as blood spatter. This occurs when external force is applied to a source of liquid blood, which then falls on a surface.

The blood spatter on Boy A's right boot indicated Boy A "either assaulted Ana or was in very close proximity when she was assaulted", Mr Hoade told the jury.

May 24

Gardaí gave evidence of obtaining a warrant and searching Boy A's home on May 24, 2018.

During the search, gardaí took a total of 59 exhibits, including a backpack found in Boy A's wardrobe.

The backpack contained a mask, black woollen gloves, black plastic knee pads, black plastic shin pads, and a black woollen snood, what gardaí later described as the "murder kit".

Mr Hoade later examined the backpack and its contents. There was blood staining on the inside and outside of the backpack, and the DNA matched Ana's DNA.

Mr Hoade said there was blood staining on the mask and it too matched Ana's DNA.

He examined the area around the nose and mouth of the mask for any DNA, and the mixed profile DNA sample matched that of Ana and Boy A. Ana's DNA was also found on blood on the knee pads and gloves.

Dr Charlotte Murphy, also from Forensic Science Ireland, looked for male specific DNA on a neck swab taken from Ana.

Dr Murphy said this male specific DNA matched Boy A's DNA profile. The possibility of this DNA being from someone unrelated to Boy A was one in 7,160, she said.

By now, the forensic evidence was pointing gardaí in one direction.

A week after Ana's body was found, Boy A was taken to Clondalkin Garda Station and questioned on suspicion of the murder of Ana Kriegel.

Over the next two days, gardaí conducted six interviews with Boy A. In comparison to Boy B, Boy A didn't say much during the interviews.

Asked about footage of a male walking in the park, and wearing gloves and a backpack, Boy A said: "I think that might be one of the lads who attacked me."

Garda Tomas Doyle told Boy A gardaí believed he was the male in this CCTV footage. Boy A denied it was him.

He said a statement he previously gave about being assaulted in the park by two men on the same day Ana disappeared was "the truth".

During one of the interviews, Gda Doyle showed Boy A a photograph of his boots, telling him Ana's blood had been found on them.

"Are you joking me?" Boy A asked.

"No," said Gda Doyle.

"Are you actually being serious?" Boy A asked.

Gda Doyle said he wouldn't joke about something like that.

Boy A then asked if he could get some air and he was handed a glass of water.

Gda Doyle put it to Boy A the blood on his boots put him in the room where Ana's body was found.

"Were you in this room?" Gda Doyle asked.

"No," said Boy A.

During the fifth interview, Boy A was told gardaí had examined his mobile phone and retrieved data from a Safari search engine. Boy A responded: "That's not possible as I don't have Safari on my phone".

An exhibit was shown to Boy A. It was a screenshot of a list of videos saved on February 14, 2018, and included "15 most gruesome torture methods in history", "horror movies that will blow everyone away" and "10 top sexiest video game characters of 2017".

When asked what he was doing, Boy A said he was "looking for horror movies online". This was an interest of his, specifically ghost horror movies, he said.

Asked what he typed into the search engine, Boy A said: "Horror movies."

A second printout was shown to Boy A. This data was also retrieved from his phone and included entries for "Mega Mastadon", "creepy forward facing skull", "printable gift vouchers" and "abandoned places in Lucan".

Asked if he remembered this, Boy A told gardaí: "If it was something I looked up regularly it would come up recommended."

During the final interview, sections of Boy B's interviews with gardaí were put to Boy A. Asked if he wanted to make any clarifications, Boy A said "[Boy B] is lying, that's it."

After 24 hours of questioning Boy A was released from the provisions of his detention and charged with Ana's murder.

As gardaí were interviewing Boy A, Boy B was being interviewed in Finglas garda station. He gave gardaí a number of different accounts of what happened. Gardaí repeatedly urged Boy B to tell the "truth".

July 7

Boy B was released without charge and was subsequently re-arrested six weeks later, on July 7.

During those latter interviews, Boy B said Boy A asked him to call for Ana, citing "relationship issues".

They went to the park, and Boy B said he went into the house first, leaving Ana and Boy A outside. When he came out Ana and Boy A were talking. Boy B said Boy A and Ana then walked inside the house. He was told to leave by Boy A, but he didn't want to go.

He then heard "shuffling" and he went and stood at the door of the room Boy A and Ana had gone into.

Boy B said Boy A started stripping Ana and once he [Boy A] got to her bra he looked up at Boy B and that's when he ran.

He was released without charge, and following the directions of the DPP, he was charged with murder on July 12.

Just over a year later and following a seven-week trial at the Central Criminal Court, both boys have now been found guilty of murder.

Irish Independent

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