Tuesday 20 February 2018

Gardai suspect sex motive in frenzied knife slaughter


Gardai are investigating a theory that the fatal stabbing and mutilation of a "quiet, kind" father of two in his flat in Limerick city may have had a sexual motivation.

Gardai believe Martin Purcell, 54, whose body was found on Friday morning, may have known his killer. He lived alone in a small apartment at Wickham Street in the centre of the city and had few visitors, neighbours said.

It is believed Mr Purcell -- who was married but separated with two grown-up children living abroad -- may have been killed early last week, possibly late on Tuesday night.

He was killed in a frenzied knife attack, suffering wounds to his neck, torso and genitals. His body was partially clothed and he may have been in bed or about to go to bed when his killer struck.

There was no sign of robbery and Mr Purcell, who was a retired Eircom engineer, was not known to have had much money.

Gardai are not publicly commenting on any possible motive, but at a press conference yesterday they confirmed that post-mortem results confirmed he died from multiple stab wounds.

Gardai want anyone who had been in the Wickham Street area during the week prior to Friday morning to come forward. Superintendent Frank O'Brien, who is leading the inquiry, said: "We would appeal for anyone with information, especially to anybody who knew the victim, to contact the gardai."

Supt O'Brien added that gardai were particularly keen to establish the dead man's movements since last Monday. He said they had already received valuable assistance from the public and people who knew the dead man.

Mr Purcell's friends described him as a "quiet, reserved individual" who enjoyed a few pints.

He was a regular in Flannery's pub on Wickham Street and was well known there.

Supt O'Brien said the deceased was a popular individual and he said his murder had left the local community "shocked and appalled".

"Martin was a well-liked member of the community and he comes from a very well-known family. He worked all his life and people have spoken very highly of him," he said.

Mr Purcell had previously lived in Norwood Park in Limerick and is survived by his ex-wife, son and daughter and two brothers and sisters.

His apartment was one of three flats above JJ Keneally jewellers.

Friends who gathered outside the building last Friday told reporters that Mr Purcell was "one of the nicest people you could meet and he wouldn't hurt a fly".

He was described as "just such a nice, quiet kind of person".

One friend, Stephanie Naughton, said: "I don't think there is anyone who would say a bad word about Martin, and I couldn't think of anyone who would want to hurt him."

Sunday Independent

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