Missing woman Giedre (29) was a victim of grooming, claims witness
Gardai probing murder of charity shop worker travel to Lithuania next month, writes Maeve Sheehan
A new witness has emerged to allege that a Lithuanian woman who disappeared a year ago and is feared murdered was abducted by men involved in prostitution.
Gardai investigating the suspected murder of Giedre Raguckaite (29) confirmed they are investigating the new "allegation" but they have not substantiated it. She was last seen at around 11pm on May 29 last year at a house in Laytown, Co Meath, in an unconscious state. Although she wasn't seen leaving, gardai are satisfied that she did leave, carried out by two men. Gardai searched the property late last year but nothing of evidential value was found.
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As the first anniversary of Giedre's disappearance approaches next month, gardai are preparing to launch a new public appeal for information. Members of the investigation team are also due to travel to Lithuania in the coming weeks to interview potential witnesses.
The new information was provided by a witness who contacted Giedre's family and friends on social media, who urged the person to go to gardai. The Lithuanian woman's friends and family, who live overseas, have been campaigning on social media for people in the area to come forward with information.
According to a friend of Ms Raguckaite, the witness claimed to her family that the men targeted her to groom her into prostitution, intending to traffic her into Northern Ireland. Ms Raguckaite resisted, to her cost.
Detective Inspector Martin Beggy declined to comment on specific avenues of investigation, but confirmed that they are investigating an allegation made by a witness.
Inspector Beggy said gardai are particularly appealing for information about Giedre's possessions.
They believe the she would have had a bag of clothes, make-up and toiletries with her but these were never found. She had lost her handbag before she went missing. It was later found in a laneway in Dundalk town, after she disappeared.
Ms Raguckaite, a Lithuanian citizen, had been in Ireland for six weeks and had worked briefly in a charity shop. She knew no one in Ireland but kept in regular contact with her family and friends, by phone and on social media. She was in between flats when she went missing, and gardai are still trying to establish where she was living. She was seen at a petrol forecourt in Dundalk on May 26, and three days later she telephoned her father in Lithuania.
Her friend Gedville Hiber said: "That night, that she disappeared, she was on the phone to her Dad. She was happy. She sounded fine...It was about 5.30pm in the evening, so that night she disappeared, it was very strange."
She said she and Giedre grew up together. "She went to Ireland just to look for a better life. She had finished college, where she studied social studies, and after that moved abroad to work," she said.
"She was always really friendly, communicative and easy going. She didn't have enemies. She always had a smile and was ready to help everyone."
The case of Ms Raguckaite was upgraded from missing person to murder late last year.
Inspector Beggy said: "We are looking at the community in Dundalk and Drogheda who may have seen her in the last week in May or on the night of May 29 socialising both in Dundalk and in Drogheda.
"Two gardai on the investigation team are fluent in Lithuanian and if there are any difficulties with people contacting us, we do have people who can speak to them in their own language."
Giedre was described as being 5ft 5in in height and of slight build with blonde hair and green eyes.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Dundalk Garda Station at 042-938 8400.