Monday 21 January 2019

Post-mortem due on body of woman (57) killed with axe in home as son remains in custody

Screaming: Elizabeth Piotrowska, who was described as ‘highly respected’ in the Ardee community, was found by her neighbour at around 11am yesterday
Screaming: Elizabeth Piotrowska, who was described as ‘highly respected’ in the Ardee community, was found by her neighbour at around 11am yesterday

Ken Foy, Conor Feehan and Elaine Keogh

A 32-year-old man remains in custody after his mother was murdered with an axe.

Elzbieta (Elizabeth) Piotrowska (57), a married mother-of-two originally from Poland, suffered horrific injuries after a violent assault.

It is believed she sustained heavy blood loss, and died at her home in the Clonmore Estate in Ardee, Co Louth, at around 11am yesterday.

A neighbour of Ms Piotrowska alerted gardaí to the horrific scene after she arrived at the house and found the inside of the property covered in blood.

Ms Piotrowska was attacked with an axe in the hallway of her home. It is understood an axe was recovered in the house where she was murdered and was being forensically examined last night.

Ms Piotrowska's son Tomasz Piotrowski (32) was arrested around 90 minutes after the murder in the centre of Ardee after gardaí searched two separate properties in the town.

Gardaí at Bridge Street. Photo: Seamus Farrelly
Gardaí at Bridge Street. Photo: Seamus Farrelly

Ms Piotrowska had been living with her husband in Ardee for the last seven years, and the couple were "highly respected" in the local  community.

An armed Garda manhunt was launched and the suspect was arrested outside a pub in the Bridge Street area of Ardee at around 1pm.

He was being questioned last night in Drogheda garda station.

Gardaí are not looking for anyone else in relation to the investigation.

A neighbour who was calling to Ms Piotrowska made the shocking discovery in the hallway of the house in the Clonmore Estate just off the Dunleer Road at around 11am. She immediately raised the alarm and gardaí were called.

Locals described hearing the woman who found the body screaming in the street.

"I heard a woman screaming and someone ran down to me, and told me there was a woman hurt. I called the Garda," she said.

Gardaí began a manhunt in the town, and within a short space of time three other crime scenes were established.

One was at a house on Bridge Street in the town where Ms Piotrowska's son Tomasz was arrested as shocked locals looked on, not knowing of the events which had unfolded in the Clonmore Estate.

Gardaí swooped on the house on the banks of the River Dee in several vehicles and arrested the 32-year-old.

Searches were also carried out by gardaí at a house in the Cherrybrook estate, around 2km from Clonmore, and at a site in the townland of Mandistown, Drumconrath, around 8km from the scene of the crime.

"Gardaí responded to a call about a serious incident at the Clonmore Estate in Ardee. When we got there we found a female very seriously injured who was later pronounced dead at the scene," said Supt Des McTiernan at a press conference at Ardee garda station.

"That scene is preserved at this time. We have our technical bureau endeavouring to establish the facts as they happened.

"We have our State pathologist on the way and we have all the structures and investigative enquiries that we need to be initiated done at this moment in time.

"We have, so far, one person arrested. We are not looking for anybody else.

"There are a number of other people assisting with our investigation."

He stressed that there was a definite line of enquiry.

"I'm happy that it is contained at this moment in time. I don't anticipate that it is going to go anywhere else.

"We have the person that we believe was involved in the incident arrested and detained at Drogheda garda station," said Supt McTiernan.

The body has been removed to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda where a post mortem is scheduled to be commenced this morning by Dr Michael Curtis.

Ms Piotrowska was described by locals as a nice, pleasant woman.

She lived at the house with her husband.

They are the parents of a son and daughter. The son lives in Ireland but the daughter lives in Poland where Ms Piotrowska was from.

In her last social media post on Facebook last Friday, Ms Piotrowska is seen posing snuggled up to her little dog.

Flowers were brought to the scene last night by Richard Lynch, the landlord of the house in the Clonmore estate where Ms Piotrowska lived.

"We advertised the house seven years ago and they came on board.

"They seemed very, very genuine and down to earth people. We had no problem with them. You couldn't get better," he said.

"We were very shocked, I think it was more the gruesome way her life ended, that is the biggest shock.

"I think if it was a massive heart attack (she had died from) it was a huge shock, but the way it happened is unbelievable, you can't get over it.

"It was absolutely shocking, it doesn't bear thinking about. It is an awful tragedy," he said.

Parish priest Fr Brian Slater said most of his parishioners were shocked by the events.

He led prayers for Ms Piotrowska and her family at a prayer group meeting last night.

"A lot of people are in shock. They can't believe this is happening in their town, in sleepy wee Ardee," he said.

"They are looking for answers.

"All we can do at this time is pray for the deceased and the wider community.

"It is the worst beginning for a new year for the townsfolk," he added.

Gardai wish to renew their appeal for witnesses or to anyone who can assist with this investigation to contact Drogheda Garda Station on 041 9874200, The Garda Confidential Telephone Line 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News