Gardaí have made “significant progress” in their investigation into the murder of Kerry grandmother Miriam Burns (75), with the case now entirely forensic science-led.
Tests, including fingerprint, DNA and fibre analysis, are crucial to securing a prosecution against the person gardaí believe attacked and strangled the grandmother and mother-of-four in the sitting room of her home in Killarney.
She was found dead there on Monday, August 15.
The results of these tests are being used to paint a picture of what happened in the moments leading up to the attack on the woman hailed as “Killarney’s smiling lady”.
A central element of the investigation is determining who was at Mrs Burns’s home with her and linking them directly to the assault on her.
One source said gardaí have been inundated with information from the public, particularly concerning the movements to and from Mrs Burns’s home.
“There has been tremendous support from the public, who have been horrified by the shocking attack on this lady,” a source said.
“But we would again appeal to people to make contact if they have information about any incidents or unusual behaviour around the Ardshanavooly area of Killarney.
“Please don’t decide the information might be too trivial – let gardaí make that decision.”
It is believed Mrs Burns opened the door of her home to her killer in the hours before her death.
She was renowned for her kindness and generosity and it is believed her attacker took advantage of that.
There was no sign of forced entry at Mrs Burns’s terraced home on the outskirts of the town, nor any sign of a disturbance inside that might typically be associated with a burglary.
However, gardaí are working to determine how much cash she may have kept at home and whether any was taken by her killer.
Detectives believe the attacker may have left and re-entered the house several times while her body lay in the front room.
Mrs Burns was found dead, lying on her side with traces of blood around her face and mouth.
She had apparently tried to defend herself as there were signs of a struggle in the room.
Her body was discovered at lunchtime when a relative who is based abroad became concerned at his inability to contact her over the previous weekend.
The man rang a neighbour in Ardshanavooly, who went with another person to check on her welfare.
They found Mrs Burns’s body and immediately left the property and contacted gardaí.
The death was treated as suspicious, given the visible injuries.
Gardaí sealed off the property and Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster conducted a post-mortem examination at University Hospital Kerry in Tralee.
Just over an hour after the post-mortem concluded, gardaí confirmed Mrs Burns’s death was being treated as murder.
Minutes later, a man in his 50s was arrested.
The man, who leads a “very chaotic lifestyle” and was known to Mrs Burns, was later released without charge.