Gardai search universities for missing organs
Detectives investigating Margot Seery 'murder' contact medical schools following exhumation
GARDAI are contacting Dublin's university medical schools to try to track down the internal organs missing from the exhumed body of a woman they suspect may have been murdered 20 years ago.
The macabre discovery was made when the body of Margot Seery (42) was exhumed from the family grave in Limerick three weeks ago, after a man came forward claiming he had strangled her.
The suspect, a man with a psychiatric history, was arrested and questioned last week, as the case was upgraded to a murder investigation.
He is understood to have again admitted to the killing, but garda sources said attempts to independently establish the cause of death have been severely hampered by the dramatic discovery that her internal organs were missing.
Gardai have had to divert resources to a "second" investigation to find out what became of the organs.
Garda are investigating a number of lines of inquiry. They include whether the organs were misplaced at the time of the post mortem or whether they may have inadvertently been placed in the wrong body. The Dublin City Coroner's office has been asked to check whether other post mortems were carried out on the same day as Margot's body was examined. Detectives are also investigating whether the organs may have been used for medical or education research at medical schools.
Gardai believe that the organs were removed from Mrs Seery's body after a post-mortem was carried out in 1994. She had been found dead in her flat in Terenure, Co Dublin by a neighbour. A post-mortem was conducted and attributed her death to choking. Foul play was not suspected.
The retired pathologist who conducted that post-mortem was interviewed by detectives last Friday week. It is understood that, due to the lapse of time, the pathologist was unable to shed further light on what happened to Mrs Seery's organs.
Detectives have now turned their attention to the Dublin medical schools, including Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and the Royal College of Surgeons.
They will be asked whether their medical departments used internal organs for research or medical purposes, and whether any were obtained through hospital pathology departments.
Detectives also plan to interview everyone who had access to the body, including medics, funeral directors and embalmers to find whether anyone noticed that the dead woman's organs were missing.
The woman's internal organs could be pivotal to the investigation, particularly a small neck bone, which could indicate whether or not she was strangled.
Mrs Seery's relatives were unaware until her exhumation that her organs were missing. Having braced themselves for the prospect of a murder investigation when they were first contacted by gardai in July, they then learnt that she was buried without her organs.
Last week, the self-confessed suspect was arrested and questioned for several hours, almost three months after he first presented at a Garda station "confessing" to a murder. He was released without charge and remains in psychiatric care.
It is understood that he largely repeated the account he originally gave when he first claimed to have committed murder.
He told them that he met Mrs Seery when he was out drinking with his friend. He went back to her apartment in Terenure, where he claimed "an urge" came over him and he strangled her.
It is understood that he claimed to have re-arranged her clothes and the bedclothes and left the apartment, apparently unnoticed. Mrs Seery's body was discovered the following day by a neighbour, but her death was not regarded as suspicious. A pathologist conducted a post-mortem at the City Mortuary on Store Street, in Dublin city centre.
The original post-mortem was carried out ahead of an inquest into Margot Seery's death by the Dublin City Coroner shortly after she died.
In a statement this weekend, the coroner's office said: "As you may be aware, there is an ongoing Garda investigation in relation to this death. We cannot, therefore, make any comment in relation to this matter." The RCSI said it has not been contacted by Gardai about the investigation and "does not accept organs for teaching or research" apart from those voluntarily donated.