A post-mortem on the exhumed remains of a woman who gardai fear was murdered 20 years ago has found that she was buried without her vital organs.
The gardai investigation in the death of Margaret 'Margot' Seery has been severely hampered after forensic experts made the startling discovery.
In what is believed to be an unprecedented case, gardai are now trying to solve the mystery behind the disappearance of the 42-year-old Limerick woman's organs.
The disturbing discovery was made during a post-mortem carried out in Limerick last week by Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis.
The body was exhumed from her family plot in Rathkeale, Co Limerick after a man made a statement at a Dublin garda station in which he claimed to have strangled a woman following a night out 20 years ago.
But the chances of gardai corroborating the man's story have now diminished. No record of Ms Seery's organs being donated was ever recorded.
The coroner in Limerick and the coroner in Dublin where the original post-mortem took place have both been made aware of the alarming development.
Following the woman's death in October 1994, gardai found no grounds for treating it as suspicious.
A subsequent post-mortem found that Ms Seery died following asphyxiation as a result of choking.
No foul play was ever suspected until the man's confession was made to gardai at Rathmines Garda Station in July.
Officers from the Cold Case Unit applied to have the body exhumed and permission was granted by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.
The alleged offender said that he had a sudden urge to strangle the victim after the pair engaged in sex and drank alcohol at her flat in Terenure.
The male individual, who has a psychiatric history, has since been admitted to a psychiatric facility.
During last week's post-mortem examination at University Hospital Limerick, Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis was alarmed to find that the woman's vital organs were missing.
Dr Curtis was trying to establish if Ms Seery's hyoid bone, situated in the neck, was broken in order to corroborate her suspected killer's confession.
However, the bone itself was missing along with most of the victim's remaining organs.
Gardai have now launched a second investigation aimed at establishing the whereabouts of the organs which could prove pivotal to solving the suspected crime. Ms Seery's family have been made aware of the development.
The investigation team, which includes members of the Cold Case Unit, are expected to interview all medical and forensic experts who came into contact with Ms Seery's body following her death. As part of the investigation, officers interviewed a friend of the alleged offender who was in his company on the night in question.
The two men met Ms Seery after spending the night drinking at a pub in South Dublin.
Ms Seery and her suspected killer went back to her apartment in Terenure.
The suspect said that after strangling his victim, he left her lying face down on the bed.
Gardai were alerted to her death by a neighbour who discovered the body