Friday 15 December 2017

Wicklow Mountains murder victim named locally and remembered as 'loving grandmother'

  • Patricia O'Connor was reported missing on June 2
  • Remains were first discovered on Saturday off Military Road
  • Man (32) presented himself to gardaí earlier this week
  • Neighbours horrified at murder of 'lovely woman'
  • Man being held overnight in connection with the murder

Gardai search a house near Nutgrove Shopping Centre. Picture: Arthur Carron
Gardai search a house near Nutgrove Shopping Centre. Picture: Arthur Carron
The scene in Co Wexford where gardaí are searching this morning

Cathal McMahon, Robin Schiller and Conor Feehan

A woman whose dismembered remains were found dumped in the Wicklow Mountains has been remembered as a much-loved mother and grandmother.

The victim, named locally as Patricia O'Connor, was reported missing from her South Dublin home on June 2.

Gardaí believe Ms O'Connor, a chef in her late 50s, was killed during a row in which she was struck over the head with a blunt instrument.

Officers are working on the theory she was murdered in Dublin and an attempt was then made to dispose of her body in a shallow grave in Co Wexford.

At least eight crime scenes have been sealed off, including a family home in Rathfarnham; a grave area near Kilmuckridge, Co Wexford; near the Hellfire Club and other parts of the Dublin-Wicklow Mountains.

A man being held in connection with the murder of grandmother Patricia O'Connor will be held overnight.

A decision over whether to charge or release him will be made by the Director of Public Prosecutions in the morning.

The scene in Co Wexford where gardaí are searching this morning

One neighbour described how the community was left horrified as news of the death emerged yesterday.

"Patricia was a lovely woman, she moved out of the area ten years ago but returned around a year ago.

"She kept to herself but she would always say hello and goodbye. She was very polite."

Members of the Garda Underwater Unit at the Glenmacnass waterfall in the Wicklow Mountains yesterday. Photo: Collins Dublin
Members of the Garda Underwater Unit at the Glenmacnass waterfall in the Wicklow Mountains yesterday. Photo: Collins Dublin

Mother-of-two Patricia had a number of grandchildren and she had worked up to recently as a chef in Mount Carmel Hospital, Churchtown. A number of body parts have now been recovered by officers including a torso, legs as well as a head and arms in a plastic bag.

A major investigation led by Assistant Commissioner Fintan Fanning of the South Eastern Division, Supt Pat Ward and Det Supt Frank Keneghan of Bray gardaí made a breakthrough last night with the arrest of a  32-year-old suspect in Co Wexford.

The gardaí are working on the theory there was a row involving the middle-aged woman up to 10 days ago. They fear the killer struck her over the head in a violent row and then placed the body in the boot of his car.

The killer then drove to the Kilmuckridge area where he dug a grave and tried to dispose of her body. Teeth and hair thought to be from the victim were found at a suspected crime scene there.

Officers believe the killer later disinterred the body and returned it to the boot of his car. At some stage he cut up the woman’s body with a hacksaw.

He made the return journey to Dublin and started disposing of the body parts across an area of at least 30km in and around the Wicklow Mountains.

Ms O'Connor was reported missing on June 2 but nothing at the time suggested her disappearance was suspicious.

Gardaí based at Bray, Co Wicklow, got their first big breakthrough last night with the arrest of a suspect in the case. “Officers have been working flat out on this case for the last few days and we got a lucky break yesterday when we identified a suspect,” a source said. has learned that the suspect presented himself to gardaí in Rathfarnham earlier this week and volunteered information about the investigation.

The suspect helped gardaí with their inquiries and was brought by officers to a scene in Kilmuckridge, Co Wexford. He was subsequently arrested at this locatiion.

The investigation team is now searching for the weapons used in the crime.

Gardaí initially believed that the human remains recovered over the last number of days were that of an adult male aged in his mid-20s.

However, DNA results confirmed that the dismembered remains actually belonged to a adult woman.

A garda spokeswoman last night confirmed: “As part of this ongoing murder investigation a man is his early 30s was arrested late this evening in Wexford  and is currently detained in garda custody.”

Over 200 gardaí and Defence Forces personnel have been involved in the large-scale search operation. Members of the Garda Water Unit and Dog Unit are also involved.

Shortly after 1pm yesterday a human head was found around 3km north of Glenmacnass waterfall, where remains had previously been found.

Further remains, including an arm, were located later in the afternoon. A partial torso, a leg, a backbone and internal organs were recovered as part of the investigation.

The initial discovery was made by walkers on Old Military Road at 7.45pm on Saturday.

A family returned from a hike to discover that their car had been broken into.

As they searched the area for their belongings, they made the grim discovery. The theft was coincidental and is not linked to the investigation into the human remains.

A source stated that the body parts that have so far been recovered had been badly mutilated, with certain remains including the head and hands recovered in plastic bags.

Supt Pat Ward last night confirmed the “gruesome” discovery of limbs and more torso parts. “The findings today reveal, and I may be a little gruesome in what I have to say, and I’m particularly conscious of the fact that the body found is that of a loved one, but I have to say that what we have found today are limbs and we’ve also found some significant parts of the torso.

“And we’ve also found in one of the locations, a bag with the head and hands of the deceased,” Supt Ward said.

“The forensic examinations that have been carried out now indicate that the body is that of a female – an adult female.

“While earlier indications were that the body was that of a male, the significant investigations and complex investigations up to this point now indicate that the body is that of an adult female,” the senior investigator added.

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