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Wednesday 18 September 2019

Fresh hope DNA may identify killer as murdered mother of two is exhumed

Campaign: Marie Tierney’s siblings, Breda Fay and John Bourke, believe her murderer is still alive. Picture: Maria Taylor
Campaign: Marie Tierney’s siblings, Breda Fay and John Bourke, believe her murderer is still alive. Picture: Maria Taylor
The mother-of-two’s remains were exhumed at Conahy Cemetery. Picture: Pat Moore

Ralph Riegel

High-tech new DNA and forensic tests are being conducted on the remains of murdered Kilkenny mother-of-two Marie Tierney (34) in a bid to identify her killer.

The tests were conducted at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) after the remains of Ms Tierney were exhumed from Conahy Cemetery in Co Kilkenny at dawn yesterday.

Gardaí briefed members of Ms Tierney's family on developments in the case last night.

Her family have waged an unrelenting 34-year campaign for her killer to be brought to justice.

Ms Tierney's siblings, John Bourke and Breda Fay, urged people to support the Garda investigation - and appealed to the killer to "do the right thing... and hand yourself in".

"We are just hoping this helps bring an end to it after all these years," Mr Bourke told the Irish Independent.

"We strongly believe that her murderer is alive. You know who you are and we are asking you to please come forward. Hand yourself in for the sake of her children, her grandchildren and all her family. We need justice for Marie."

The exhumation took place just one week after the 34th anniversary of the mother of two suddenly vanishing.

Special permission was required from both Kilkenny County Council and the Department of Justice for the exhumation.

The forensic tests had to be completed quickly so Ms Tierney's body could be re-interred yesterday.

A senior Kilkenny Garda source said they were "hopeful" the exhumation will deliver the breakthrough required in the long-running murder probe.

New information came to Garda attention after fresh appeals for assistance as the investigation was the focus of a full cold-case review last November.

More than 500 lines of inquiry have been pursued and a total of 200 witness statements have been compiled. The mother of two was murdered on a date unknown between October 21 and December 21, 1984.

The young mother lived with her husband, Jim, and their two children, aged 13 and 12 in 1984, at Clinstown, Co Kilkenny, and ran a small retail service station.

Her husband reported her missing on October 22, 1984, after she had left the family home at 10.30pm the previous evening and failed to return.

She was reported to be driving the family's Renault 18 car, registration number 35 HIP.

The vehicle was later found parked at Newpark Fen in Kilkenny.

Despite an extensive search of the local countryside, no trace of Ms Tierney was found. Two months later, on December 21, a man out walking spotted human remains in a ditch at Bleach Road in Kilkenny.

A post-mortem examination indicated that Ms Tierney had been strangled.

The Garda cold case review has focused on the movements of her car.

Detectives also urged anyone who recalled people walking or cycling in either of those two locations on October 21/22, 1984, to come forward.

"We wish to thank the community at large and the media for their assistance and we again seek their help in this case. Whilst over 30 years have elapsed, there may be people who have information who for whatever reason have not come forward yet," a Garda statement said.

"We would ask those people to please make contact with An Garda Síochana in Kilkenny on (056) 7775000 or on the Garda Confidential Line (1800) 666111."

Irish Independent

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