Tuesday 21 November 2017

Murder-suicide bodies released

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

THE heartbroken wife and sister of the two farmers at the centre of a murder-suicide was last night preparing for their bodies to be brought home.

Gardai released the remains of George Rothwell (69) and his brother-in-law Michael Jordan (63) to Hilda Jordan late last evening.

Detectives had been interviewing Mrs Jordan in Co Carlow throughout yesterday while ballistic experts continued their work.

Deputy State Pathologist Michael Curtis completed post-mortems on the two bodies on Thursday evening.

However, detectives had to finish their investigations at Ballycormac House near Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, before the remains could be released to the family.

Hilda Jordan has been praised in the close-knit farming community for her compassion in deciding to wake her brother and husband side by side following the tragedy.

George Rothwell suffered up to four gunshot wounds -- one of which in the upper body was fatal -- before he died in the living area of his farmhouse.

It's believed Michael Jordan went to see George Rothwell in the early hours of Wednesday morning when the two men were involved in a disagreement over land.

Retaliate

Forensic experts have spent the past two days examining the scene of the shooting as part of their efforts to find out exactly what happened before Mr Rothwell was killed. It's understood there was an exchange of gunfire between both men.

Mr Rothwell's legally held shotgun was found close to his body, suggesting he may have tried to retaliate. There were also a number of pellets on the ground that indicated gunfire in two directions. There were no gunshot wounds to Mr Jordan's body,

Officers found Mr Jordan's legally held shotgun on Thursday afternoon after extensive searches at his property on land adjoining Mr Rothwell's farm.

Fire services had initially responded to a blaze at Mr Rothwell's house at around 3.30am on Wednesday and shortly afterwards the 69-year-old's body was found inside his home.

Neighbours discovered Michael Jordan hanging in a shed at the back of his home nearby some hours later.

There was no "long-running dispute" between the men according to friends.

However, it is understood tensions over land divided between George and his sister, Hilda, had reached boiling point between the two men before the double tragedy. Mr Jordan had suffered from depression.

Supt Gerry Redmond, who is leading the probe, confirmed the bodies of Mr Rothwell and Mr Jordan were released to the family last night.

Supt Redmond said the scene at Ballycormac House would remain closed off until today while forensics finished their work.

Meanwhile, the local community is preparing to pay their respects to the two dead farmers. They had initially thought that the funerals would take place today. However, due to delays in releasing the remains, the arrangements have been changed.

It's now expected that two separate services for Michael Jordan, a devout Catholic, and George Rothwell, a Protestant, will be held early next week. Arrangements for the burials will be finalised over the weekend.

Irish Independent

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