Joanne 'may have already been dead' when estranged husband reported her missing - gardaí
- Estranged husband Keith Lee (42) has not been arrested yet as he is being treated for multiple injuries in hospital
- Lee had jumped from third-floor window as gardaí entered apartment
- Estranged husband 'will be questioned within the next few days'
- Gardaí now satisfied that Joanne Lee was murdered in the flat where her body was found
THE estranged husband of tragic Joanne Lee has been identified as the chief suspect in her murder.
The tragic 38-year-old was strangled to death before her body was stuffed in a wardrobe in a flat in Ranelagh, south Dublin.
Her estranged husband Keith Lee (42) has not been arrested yet as he is being treated for multiple injuries at St James’s Hospital after he jumped from a third-floor window on Thursday afternoon when gardaí raided the flat where Ms Lee was murdered.
Gardaí are due to quiz Mr Lee in relation to his wife’s death, but this is not expected to happen for a number of days at least as the suspect suffered two broken ankles, broken ribs and a broken arm.
It has emerged that Mr Lee had reported his wife missing when he presented at Store Street garda station on Tuesday night and outlined to officers that there were major difficulties in their relationship.
This led gardaí to issue a public missing person’s appeal late on Wednesday night stating that Ms Lee was last seen in the area policed by Mountjoy gardaí on the capital’s northside.
However, officers now believe that the victim may have already been strangled at this point. Gardaí have confirmed that the man who threw himself out of a third-floor window before making admissions about killing Ms Lee is her estranged husband. Gardaí are now satisfied that Ms Lee was murdered in the flat where her body was found.
Investigators are still trying to establish exactly how and why the tragic woman ended up in the property.
Speaking at a press briefing at the scene in Ranelagh yesterday, Superintendent Gerry Delmar from Donnybrook garda station said they believed the man being treated in hospital is Keith Lee.
Asked who the man is, Supt Delmar said: “The man, we believe, is her estranged husband.”
Supt Delmar has also said that the last known sighting of Ms Lee, whose maiden name was Ball, was on February 5 at her family home in Garristown in Co Meath. He appealed for anyone who had seen her since to contact gardaí.
Ms Lee was living in a flat on North Strand in Dublin city so it is possible she may have been in that area before she was reported missing on Tuesday.
“Joanne also has access to a car, a silver Nissan Micra 08 MH 16073. We would like to talk to anyone who may have seen her in that car,” he said.
This car could prove vital to the investigation as it was what led gardaí to search the Ranelagh property in the first place.
“We found the car at this address and that’s where enquiries went,” said Supt Delmar.
Having discovered the car gardaí made enquiries in the area and tried to get into one particular flat, but when they were not allowed entry they forced their way in, and that is when Ms Lee’s husband jumped out the third-floor window and caused himself self-harm.
Once inside the flat the grim discovery of Joanne’s body was made in a wardrobe.
A post-mortem examination carried out yesterday revealed that Ms Lee had been strangled.
Speaking at the scene on Thursday evening, Ms Lee’s devastated uncle John Curry said Ms Lee’s family had been torn apart by her killing.
An emotional Mr Curry said: “She was a lovely girl, a beautiful girl, never any trouble, nothing from her, she was just...aw god, I’m so upset, I can’t speak.”
"The whole family is.”