The lonely mountain lane which became victim's resting place
THE remains of tragic Elaine O'Hara were found in a near-deserted corner of the Dublin mountains.
A woman walking her dog last Friday happened upon parts of a skeleton, sparking a murder investigation.
While the scene is not far from the bustle of Dublin city centre, few would travel this laneway. As the road winds up into the hills, the large houses built to take advantage of panoramic views over the capital become ever more sparse.
Eventually, only pine trees line the final stretch to the place where the grisly discovery was made.
The gate into the private land is marked with a notice prohibiting unauthorised entry, perhaps explaining why it has taken until now for Ms O'Hara's remains to be found, although it is not yet known how long the body has lain there.
Cyclists passing the scene yesterday paused briefly when they saw the police tape and a garda preserving the scene. A couple of hundred metres up the lane, forensic officers continued their search.
One local woman told the Irish Independent that people in the area were used to such searches, the Dublin mountains being a notorious dumping grounds for bodies over the years.
She said: "They're always finding bodies in the mountains, especially way back when you had all the Troubles in the North.
"When you hear about a body being found you're not surprised. But it is still shocking, extremely shocking. I think, 'God, I could have been walking right past that myself.'"
The site is a half-hour drive from Ms O'Hara's apartment in the Belarmine Plaza development in Stepaside, one of the places where she was last seen on the evening of August 22, 2012.
It's another half-hour drive over the Wicklow Mountains National Park to the Vartry reservoir near Roundwood, where her key fob were found last week.
Garda footprints could still be seen in the mud at that scene, where they found a rucksack containing a number of items on Tuesday, including handcuffs.
Gardai are investigating if the items could be linked to Ms O'Hara's death.
This is another extremely secluded place, in the shadow of the Sugarloaf mountain. The water levels at the reservoir are usually much higher, with a lake normally at the spot where in recent months there has only been a small river. A local fisherman said: "But for the fact that we had a dry summer it (the bag) might never have been found.
"Whoever put the bag in there probably never expected the lake to dry out," he added.