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Thursday 22 February 2018

Jolanta's killer could be traced on internet

Sexual jealousy may be the motive behind the savage murder of Jolanta Lubiene and her seven-year-old daughter, Enrika, writes Jim Cusack

Jolanta Lubiene and her eight-year-old daughter, Enrika
Jolanta Lubiene and her eight-year-old daughter, Enrika
Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

Garda computer crime experts are examining dating sites on which 27-year-old Jolanta Lubiene was active in the months before her death, it has been learned. Sources say she was seeking male company since her husband left Ireland to work in Sweden but was not involved in prostitution.

Jolanta had no signs of income other than her work in the kitchen of a care home in Killorglin, but it appears she had been dating a number of men in recent months. There is no suspected organised criminal link to her murder.

Forensic evidence from her house has indicated that the cold-blooded killer cut her daughter Enrika's throat on the upstairs landing before stabbing and chasing Jolanta downstairs and murdering her in the kitchen in a frenzied attack.

Two mobile phones which Jolanta owned were taken by the killer when he left the house probably through the back door and across fields. Gardai finished their forensic examination inside the house on Friday and have been searching the fields and a small lake to the rear of the small estate where the mother and daughter lived. The theft of the mobile phones will not deter investigators tracking her calls, though the killer may not have known this.

Jolanta's husband, Marius, her sister, Kristina, who also lives and works in Killorglin and her family in the village of Gedrimu in south-eastern Lithuania are hoping to return their bodies for burial later this week.

Last week Jolanta, one of two sisters and four brothers, was remembered in her home as a happy loving mother by friends in Lithuania. Her former history teacher, Liuda Mitkuviene, told a Lithuanian newspaper last week Jolanta was popular in school and from a well-respected family background. She said Jolanta was bright and lively as a child. They kept in touch and met up when Jolanta returned each summer with her daughter, Enrika, to see her family. Ms Mitkuviene was looking forward to seeing her on her planned permanent return to Gedrimu next month. Another former friend described her as a "simple and good person".

Jolanta and her husband began going out when she was 17 and he 19. They attended the same secondary school in Germantas about three miles from her home in south-west Lithuania. She and Marius and her sister Kristina and her husband, Viadas Kuleviciene, emigrated to Ireland in 2005. The two sisters found jobs in Keane's Supervalu in Killorglin, Jolanta working in the busy deli section. Kristina still works in the shop but Jolanta left when she found a better paid kitchen job in St Joseph's Nursing Home in the town in 2011. She was highly thought of as an industrious and conscientious member of staff who never took time off unannounced, colleagues said. Asking to remain anonymous, a colleague said Jolanta had a "great sense of humour and a wonderful innocence". As well as working in the home she had another job preparing the meals on wheels service for the elderly and infirm around Killorglin.

Enrika was in second class in Scoil Mhuire and described by another parent as "simply radiant" at her First Communion two months ago. The school released a statement on hearing of her murder, saying she was a "beautiful child who was loved by all who knew her".

Enrika was popular with the other children in the estate, Irish and Eastern European, while Jolanta was said to be somewhat reserved. "She kept herself to herself . . . we didn't know much about her, only through Enrika," a neighbouring mother said.

The last sighting gardai have of Enrika was on the Friday evening, playing outside her home. Jolanta was last seen alive at around 1.50pm on Saturday in Langford Street, carrying shopping back towards her home. She was dressed in a dark jacket and black trousers. A Lithuanian friend told gardai last week she called to Jolanta's home on Saturday evening but got no answer. Jolanta's friend's concerns heightened when she continued to be unable to contact her on Sunday and made the discovery when she called again on Sunday and went round to the back of the house. When gardai arrived and gained entry through the unlocked back door, they found Jolanta (27) dead in the blood-spattered kitchen. She had up to 20 stab wounds. Eight-year-old Enrika's body was found upstairs with stab wounds to her neck.

Both mother and child were dressed and Jolanta was preparing food in the kitchen when she was murdered. There were no signs of forced entry at the house, gardai said later, and this was taken as an indicator that the killer had knowledge of the household and possibly knew Jolanta.

A neighbour told reporters on Monday she had heard loud music coming from the house at breakfast time on Saturday, something she had thought unusual but not alarming enough to report at the time.

The bodies were left in situ throughout Monday for forensic examination and other parents in the small estate began moving their children away from the police presence and the forensic investigators in their white body suits toing and froing from the house up until Friday. The estate was empty of children when the two body bags were taken from the house just after 6pm on Monday.

Jolanta's husband, Marius, was in Sweden on Sunday night when he was informed by telephone by his brother-in-law, Viadus, of his wife and child's murder. Marius moved to find farm work earlier this year. He returned to Ireland on Monday morning. He had last seen his family at Enrika's communion. On his arrival he commented to one of the reporters outside the home, where he left a teddy bear among the flowers left by friends and neighbours, that he had last spoken to his wife in April adding: "Only in the past year she began to talk about going home." Marius said he was trying to raise the €20,000 it would take to transport the bodies back to Lithuania. Journalists in Lithuania reported that Jolanta's mother wanted to have a traditional funeral and see her daughter and granddaughter's bodies before burial. She had contacted an undertaker who had told her this was the likely cost of returning the two bodies.

On Monday morning, Marius posted an appeal for money on his Facebook page asking, in Lithuanian, for help for "a daddy who has lost everything". He said he and his wife were considering leaving Enrika with her mother's family while he and Jolanta worked in Sweden to raise enough money to finally return and live in Lithuania.

He told reporters that if he could speak to the killer, he would ask him: "Why, why did you do this? Why? You can go to hell." He added: "I want to bring home the bodies. But it is very expensive, it is around €20,000. It is better to have the funeral in Lithuania because we want our family and friends there."

Friends and family confirmed Jolanta had decided to leave Ireland last year and was in the final stages of divesting herself of her belongings and moving to be with her parents Rimatas Santas and Ramute Sentiene. Her father, relatives said, is in terminal stages of cancer and Jolanta had decided to sell up and move permanently back to Lithuania to spend time with him before he died. Gardai are closely considering a connection between Jolanta's move and her death.

Jolanta had sold her second-hand Honda Civic and had placed her other belongings for sale on the internet. She had bought one-way tickets for her return home next weekend.

No main suspect has been identified but gardai are hopeful that internet and phone traffic will provide clues. On Monday last gardai made contact with Interpol and began liaising with police in Lithuania who visited and spoke to family and friends to ascertain any possible motive behind the murders.

Last week garda sources said it was likely the investigation will be lengthy, as Jolanta was a frequent internet user.

They also believe that there was a personal reason behind the murder and Jolanta may have known her killer. Jolanta's family and her friends, however, said she showed no particular signs of fearing she and her daughter would come to harm. In fact, they said she was in her normal good form and seemed glad she was returning home to her family. It is likely, gardai say, that Enrika too knew the killer and she was murdered to prevent her becoming a witness.

Jolanta had no criminal connections, evidenced by the fact that she worked full-time throughout her stay in Ireland in fairly low-paid work and had no trappings to suggest other than that she was an honest hard-working woman.

The Langford Downs estate has only 50 houses, most of which are owned and rented by young families, all well settled and friendly with, or at least aware of, their neighbours. None reported seeing a stranger on the Friday or Saturday. There were also no sightings of a strange car.

There may be an explanation that the killer crossed fields to the rear of Jolanta's house, possibly early on Saturday morning or Friday night. The unusual loud music heard at breakfast time on Saturday morning may have been an indication the killer was in the house and his presence had not caused Jolanta to try and escape or call for assistance because of any fears for herself and her daughter.

Irish Independent

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