Saturday 21 July 2018

Gardaí to seek DNA samples from locals in hunt for Kerry baby killer

  • Gardaí investigating murder of infant boy in Co Kerry more than 33 years ago
  • They say answer to Baby John murder is 'in local area'
  • Gardaí appeal directly to his mother to come forward
  • Authorities to seek DNA samples from locals in south Kerry as part of investigation
Joanne Hayes pictured with her daughter around 1985
Joanne Hayes pictured with her daughter around 1985
Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

GARDAÍ investigating the murder of an infant boy in Co Kerry more than 33 years ago are satisfied he was from the local area - and have appealed directly to his mother to come forward.

Detectives will now be seeking DNA samples from people in the Iveragh Peninsula, south Kerry, as part of the new investigation into the death of Baby John.

The infant was stabbed multiple times and his body placed in a bag, in a mystery that has confounded the nation for decades.

But now Detective Superintendent Walter O'Sullivan of An Garda Síochána's Serious Crime Review Team confirmed a new investigation was "starting from scratch".

Garda Breda O'Donoghue, Det Walter O'Sullivan, Supt Flor Murphy and Det John Brennan pictured at the Kerry Babies Press Conference in Cahersiveen Garda Station on Tuesday.
Photo: Don MacMonagle
Garda Breda O'Donoghue, Det Walter O'Sullivan, Supt Flor Murphy and Det John Brennan pictured at the Kerry Babies Press Conference in Cahersiveen Garda Station on Tuesday. Photo: Don MacMonagle

The infant, who came to be known as Baby John, was thought to have been around five days old when his body was found by a jogger on White Strand in Cahersiveen on April 14, 1984.

A post-mortem examination revealed he had been dead for around two days.

The investigation led to the arrest of Joanne Hayes, who was 25 at the time and known to have been pregnant.

But blood samples taken from Ms Hayes, and her married lover, showed that Baby John had a different blood group.

‘Baby John’ was just five days old when his body was found with multiple stab wounds on White Strand in Caherciveen on April 14, 1984. Gardaí have apologised to Joanne Hayes (inset) for the stress the investigation caused
‘Baby John’ was just five days old when his body was found with multiple stab wounds on White Strand in Caherciveen on April 14, 1984. Gardaí have apologised to Joanne Hayes (inset) for the stress the investigation caused

Mystery

Det Supt O'Sullivan said he was confident the answer to the mystery of Baby John lay in the local area.

"The greatest assistance in this case will come from the people of south Kerry and we're certainly acting on the premise, drawing on our experience, that the answer to the case lies in south Kerry, in the Iveragh Peninsula," he said. The detective said he was hopeful the new investigation would bring "a successful conclusion".

He also suggested that a "strong" person may have been "impeding" the investigation.

"We're looking back now over 33 years and time has moved on," he said. "Society has changed, people may now be freer to come forward.

"In relation to the change, attitudes change, the weak become strong and the strong may have been obstructing or impeding the investigation, and the strong may now have become weak."

On several occasions during the press conference, Det Supt O'Sullivan said he was satisfied the answer lay in Cahersiveen and the surrounding area.

He explained that DNA profiling of the blood sample taken from the infant was "generous" in the information it offered that would identify the baby's parentage, grandparents and even possible siblings.

"The DNA profile we have will be vital going forward in this investigation. It will hopefully lead to the identification of the mother or the father of Baby John," he added.

"While doing that we will significantly be progressing the investigation by identifying the parents of Baby John.

"By virtue of having that sample, it's a very valuable tool in the investigation."

Meanwhile, Superintendent Flor Murphy said he was appealing directly to the mother of Baby John and assured her she would be treated with compassion and sensitivity.

Anguish

"We want her to come forward. She's the key to unlocking this. She has information to determine the full circumstances of the death of Baby John and she may have suffered pain and loss and anguish over the last 30 years. But it's a different place now.

"She can come forward and we will talk to her with sensitivity, compassion and in a professional manner," he said.

"We must not forget that a baby boy, five days old, was stabbed to death and left on a beach in south Kerry in April 1984. We cannot forget that and people out there have answers. People have information and suspicions. Please come forward and talk to us."

Supt Murphy said that the social landscape of Cahersiveen had changed since that time and societal influences and the influences of religion had curtailed people from coming forward.

"Thirty-four years later, Cahersiveen and its surrounding areas is a different place and 2018 is a different time," he said.

He noted the passage of time and the changing loyalties people could have would "create opportunities" for them in the investigation.

Gardaí said the cold case officers would work hand in hand with the local team of investigators. All the information would be renewed, including the interviewing of witnesses, the surveying of neighbourhoods, and the collection of information.

Irish Independent

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