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The mystery of the handwritten notes left by dead couple instructing gardai to contact person who says they knew nothing about them


Julia Holmes and Tom Ruttle

Julia Holmes and Tom Ruttle

The scene near Askeaton on the Rathkeale road where the bodies of Julia Holmes and Tom Ruttle were located at 3am on Monday

The scene near Askeaton on the Rathkeale road where the bodies of Julia Holmes and Tom Ruttle were located at 3am on Monday

Liam Burke

State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy at the scene

State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy at the scene

Liam Burke


Julia Holmes and Tom Ruttle

Gardai investigating the deaths of on-the-run fraudster Julia Holmes and her partner Thomas Ruttle are examining two handwritten notes found on the kitchen table in their home.

The bodies of Ms Holmes (63) and her partner Mr Ruttle (56) were discovered side-by-side in a bedroom of their isolated farmhouse near Askeaton, Co Limerick. It is believed the bodies have been there for some weeks.

Gardai found two handwritten notes on their kitchen table, dated March 14th.

The notes appear to be signed by both Ms Holmes and Mr Ruttle.

It's understood the notes included specific instructions for gardai to contact a named individual. However, when detectives contacted this party, they said they did not know anything about the couple.

Burglars discovered the badly decomposed bodies of an on-the-run fraudster and her partner when they broke into their rural farmhouse.

The thieves rang the gardai in a panic after finding the remains of Julia Holmes (63) and Thomas Ruttle (56) who are believed to have been dead since March 14.

The body of the grandmother, who was a serial fraudster and the subject of an international police hunt, was lying next to Mr Ruttle on a bed in an upstairs room while the burglars ransacked the house looking for valuables.

The well-known criminals bolted from the house outside Askeaton in Limerick after discovering the remains. They phoned gardai at Newcastlewest around 3am yesterday.

Post mortem examinations last night proved inconclusive in what gardai believe was either a murder-suicide or a suicide pact between the couple.

The house where the gruesome discovery was made was the home of Mr Ruttle, who was a separated father of grown children.

He was the registered owner of two weapons, a rifle and a double-barrelled shotgun. It is understood a rifle was found on the floor next to the bed.

But gardai said "no cause of death has been established" following the post mortems.

Sources confirmed that they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths and described it as a "tragic incident".

Further testing is now required and this may take some days.

The grandmother, who is originally from Ballynahinch, Co Down, and had more than 20 convictions was being sought by the gardai and the PSNI for fraud offences.

She used a string of aliases including Croen Ruttle, Dr Watson, Julia Watson and Celia Watson.

In 2006 she was deported from the US after she was arrested in connection with a $500,000 (€440,000) property scam in Texas. Ms Holmes, who claimed to be married to Mr Ruttle, was wanted in Northern Ireland for an stg£18,000 (€25,000) fraud.

Locally, it is claimed that the dead woman also ran up debts totalling €75,000 to local builders for work carried out on Mr Ruttle's house.

It is understood that the dead man had been a part-time farmer and mechanic who previously worked at the Aughinish Alumina plant in Foynes.

Local sources say that his family "seriously disapproved" of his relationship with the conwoman.

Gardai say that the decomposition of the couple's remains could have been much worse, had not been for the fact that the house was without heating or electricity.

The bodies were taken to University Hospital Limerick yesterday afternoon, where State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy conducted the post-mortem.

Local cleric Reverend Dr Keith Scott, said the couple were members of the Church of Ireland in Askeaton, Co Limerick.

He prayed over the bodies before they were removed. "It's a terrible tragedy, and all of the family are very deeply shocked, terribly shaken and upset," he said. He described Mr Ruttle as "just a local guy working around the area".


The burglars who broke into the house are well-known to gardai in Limerick and the Mid West region.

It is understood that they were deeply shocked by the discovery and were "terrified" of being blamed for the deaths.

"They are well-known burglars who have targeted elderly people in their homes in the past. They certainly got a lot more than they expected when they broke into that house," a security source told the Irish Independent.

"They got a serious shock and ran for it when they found the bodies.

"They thought about it and then rang the gardai in Newcastlewest around 3am in a state of panic because they were terrified that they would be blamed for what they thought was a double murder."

Superintendent Tom O'Connor, who is leading the investigation, said: "We are trying to ascertain what happened. It's appears the bodies have been there for some time."

Irish Independent