A DEVOTED mother of five brutally attacked at her countryside home died from severe head injuries as she was being rushed to hospital.
While it is believed Siobhan Stapleton (51) knew her killer, detectives are remaining tight-lipped at this early stage of the investigation.
Gardai upgraded the suspicious death to a murder probe on Saturday night after a post-mortem examination revealed how Ms Stapleton died.
It's understood she suffered traumatic head injuries after being struck a number of times. Garda forensics trawled the grounds around the family home at Kilfane on the outskirts of Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, as they searched for clues about what happened.
Ms Stapleton is married to Peter Stapleton, a plumber, and the couple have four daughters and one son.
She was described by a family friend as a "quiet" and "lovely" woman who was "totally devoted" to her children.
Gardai would not comment on the circumstances of the attack, but it is understood the person suspected of attacking Ms Stapleton may have been suffering from mental health issues.
"The family are absolutely devastated, they are finding it hard to even talk about it," said a friend of the Stapletons yesterday.
Some of the Stapleton children returned to their home, Glebe Lodge, to collect belongings but it remained sealed off throughout the day as gardai continued their inquiry. A garda cordon was still in place at the house late last night.
Customers at The Long Man Inn -- a public house near the Stapleton home -- sat in stunned silence on Friday night after learning of the murder.
Mr Stapleton is a regular at the bar. "Peter is a great guy, my heart goes out to him. What can you say to someone who loses their wife like that? They were childhood sweethearts and together since they were teenagers, it's so sad," said another friend.
People living in the rural community of Thomastown were reluctant to talk about the tragic death yesterday. Relatives also appealed for privacy on behalf of the family.
Ms Stapleton was found "with serious injuries" in the yard of her home some time between 1.10pm and 1.40pm on Friday, gardai said.
Emergency services rushed to the scene but while being transferred by ambulance to Dublin's Beaumont Hospital, she died from her injuries. Funeral arrangements are expected to be made in the coming days.
An incident room has been set up in Thomastown and gardai are appealing for anyone who may have seen anything of a suspicious nature around Glebe Lodge between 1pm and 1.45pm on Friday to contact them in Thomastown on 056 7754150, or the garda confidential line on 1800 666 111.