Murder victim Joanne Lee's 'outward beauty portrayed an inner beauty'
Murder victim Joanne Lee was a beautiful person whose death is "a nightmare" for her family, said a priest at her Requiem Mass yesterday.
"Her outward beauty portrayed an inner beauty," said Fr John Conlon at her funeral in Duleek, Co Meath.
Her parents must be hoping they will wake up from "a terrible dream" but they must cope with the reality of "terrible pain", he said.
Gardai found the body of Joanne, who was 38, hidden in a wardrobe in a flat in Ranelagh in Dublin on February 15. Her estranged husband, Keith Lee, jumped from the window of the third-floor flat when gardai arrived, breaking his legs and suffering serious injuries.
Lee also began slashing his arms with a Stanley knife as he lay on the ground before gardai intervened to give him first aid. Gardai will interview him when he is well enough to answer questions. He is the chief suspect in their investigation.
A silver casket with her remains was brought to the church in Duleek in a white wooden hearse pulled by two white horses with pink plumes.
Three photographs were brought to the altar during the Mass. One picture was of her little dog Ziggy, symbolising her love for animals and nature. A framed photo of her parents, Dermot and Catherine, symbolised the love of her family. There was a photo of Joanne dressed in a stylish outfit which was used to convey her love for fashion and "her outward beauty portrayed an inner beauty", said Fr Conlon, the parish priest.
Chief mourners were her parents, her sisters Jillian and Jennifer, her brothers Dermot and Gerard, her grandmother Breda, and nephews and nieces.
The family's death notice used her maiden name, Joanne Ball, and referred to her as Jo Jo.
Floral wreaths were brought to the church, depicting the words 'Joanne' and 'Jo Jo' as well as 'Sister' and 'Aunty' and 'Daughter'.
Fr Conlon said: "Dermot and Catherine, no parents should have to go through what you are going through. It's a nightmare.
"I'm sure over the past few days you have prayed that you will wake up and realise it was a terrible dream. But unfortunately it's not.
"It's a reality. And you are left to bear this terrible grief, this terrible loss, this terrible pain, and it's horrible," he said.
"You shouldn't have to do this. There shouldn't be a casket in the church today. This family should not be here.
"Actions such as this solve nothing. It only increases pain," he said.
He added that her parents were very anxious that the gathering in the church would not be about "the last hours of Joanne's life" but, rather, it should serve as a celebration of all of her life.
"That life was a life lived in love," he said.
He referred to a saying of St John of the Cross: "At the eventide of our lives we will be judged on love. Nothing else will be important."
Joanne's burial took place at Crossmacole Cemetery in Kilmoon, Co Meath.
A post-mortem examination found that the Dublin woman was killed by strangulation and her body lay tightly wrapped in bedclothes and a sleeping bag in the wardrobe for at least 48 hours before its discovery.
Mr Lee is reported to have made certain admissions to gardai before being taken to St James's Hospital, where he remains under armed guard while he receives treatment for his injuries.
Detectives believe she may have been murdered at a different location from where her body was found, possibly on St Valentine's Day.
Before the grim find, Mr Lee had gone to a Dublin city centre garda station and made a missing person's report about his estranged wife.