SKIN tissue found under the fingernails of strangled honeymooner Michaela Harte could prove crucial to the police case against the three men charged in connection with her murder.
Ms Harte was found strangled in her hotel bath in Mauritius with the water still running, it was revealed yesterday.
Chief police medical officer Dr Sudesh Kumar Gungadin discovered several bruises on Ms Harte's head.
Investigating officers believe that once the 27-year-old was wrestled to the ground, she was dragged into the bath tub and strangled before the water was turned on. The water was left running, perhaps in a ham-fisted attempt to make her death look like a suicide.
Police believe she came face to face with at least one attacker who used a dummy swipe card to gain access to the room just two minutes before she arrived to fetch some biscuits while she had tea with her new husband, John McAreavey, in the hotel restaurant.
Michaela had kissed her husband on the cheek as she left, telling him she'd be back in a jiffy before walking to the room which was about 200m away from the cafe. It was around 3.40pm on Monday.
Mr McAreavey went to look for his wife after she had been gone for 10 minutes and found the hotel room door locked.
He knocked but did not get any response so he went to reception and a hotel employee accompanied him back to room 1025 where they used a master card to open the door.
John cradled Michaela in his arms but she was not responding. He shouted out for a doctor and for someone to go and fetch a priest.
The doctor arrived within 10 minutes, but it was too late.
Police Commissioner Dhun Iswur Rampersad described the murder as "a very rare but sad thing that happened to the Irish lady".
"Personally, being the head of the police, I am satisfied with the conduct of the murder inquiry which is still going on," he said yesterday.
Mr Rampersad pointed out that all the murder cases which have happened in the last three years have been solved.
"Three suspects were arrested and they have been charged in court. I can assure you that the investigation is on the right track and we will shortly know what really happened on Monday last," Mr Rampersad said.
"From what we have obtained from her nails, the collections we have obtained from her nails, it looks like there may have been some struggle."
Forensic tests are expected to be completed by the end of the week.