Killer burglars targeted frail Rosie for her Christmas cash
- Pensioner had withdrawn large sum for church offering and gifts
- Vicious thieves failed to find the money as they ransacked her home
The killers of Limerick pensioner Rosie Hanrahan (78) knew she had withdrawn a significant sum of money for Christmas, gardaí believe.
However, the killerss failed to locate the money she had collected for Christmas presents and donations, despite callously ransacking her home.
The revelation came as a senior Garda source confirmed that it is now believed Ms Hanrahan's murderers had specifically targeted her home for burglary in the belief there was cash there.
Gardaí are now trying to determine if the widow had been under surveillance by the burglars in the days before her murder - and if the individuals had specific knowledge that she had cash in her home.
Ms Hanrahan is understood to have had a significant sum of cash, believed to be a four-figure sum, which was intended for shopping, meals, gifts and Church offerings over the Christmas period. The widow had stored the cash in a special hiding place in her kitchen-utility room, and the raiders, despite ransacking the cottage, failed to locate the money.
Detectives suspect the burglars mistakenly thought the house at New Road, Thomondgate, was empty at the time they broke in late on Thursday evening or early on Friday morning, last week. However, the raiders panicked when surprised by Ms Hanrahan - and strangled the frail pensioner amid fears she had seen their faces and could identify them.
The primary theory now being examined by detectives under Limerick's Superintendent Derek Smart is that the thief, or thieves, mistakenly thought the pensioner had left her house when they broke in through a back window.
Ms Hanrahan was a regular shopper, and also attended Mass at St Munchin's Church.
The frail woman, on hearing noises in her home, is thought to have surprised the intruders.
While gardaí have refused to comment on the cause of Ms Hanrahan's death for operational reasons, it is believed she was tied up and strangled.
Her body was discovered lying in the hallway by her shocked sister, Evelyn, who called with her husband, Jim Kenny, to the house on Friday afternoon.
A Garda source confirmed that forensics and CCTV security camera footage are now expected to play a critical role in directing the investigation.
Hundreds of hours of CCTV security camera footage are being studied by gardaí in Limerick.
Gardaí have also urged anyone with dash cameras fitted to cars or vans and who were in the Thomondgate area last week to contact them.
Officers have also appealed to anyone out walking dogs, socialising or heading to a local bingo event who may have spotted anything, no matter how trivial, to contact them to assist their investigation.
Garda Technical Bureau officers continued a painstaking examination of the property which backs on to the River Shannon.
Officers also examined an area of waste ground near an industrial park, amid speculation that it may have been used to maintain surveillance on Ms Hanrahan's home.
One source said gardaí already have fingerprint and DNA data, and are trying to determine if there is a link to the killers.
Ms Hanrahan's family have urged people to assist the Garda investigation and to help track down the murderer.
Her sister Helen said everyone was still reeling from the killing.
"She was so good to everybody. She has never done anything to anybody," said her sister.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Mayorstone gardaí on (061) 456980 or (1800) 666111.
Meanwhile, the removal of Ms Hanrahan is expected to take place from Griffin's Funeral Home, Pennywell, tomorrow evening, with her Requiem Mass set to be celebrated in St Munchin's Church, on Saturday.