Paul Williams: Violent abduction raises the spectre of ‘Ireland’s Missing Women’
The violent abduction of a young woman as she walked along a quiet country road in broad daylight is a scenario that immediately sends a chill of fear through society.
The shocking reports of Jastine Valdez being bundled into an SUV by a lone male fills everyone with dread as it inevitably invokes thoughts of that group we call ‘Ireland’s Missing Women’, whose disappearances have haunted this country for over two decades – and hope her name does not join that list.
Jastine, a native of the Philippines who has been living in Ireland with her family for the past three years, had returned to Enniskerry by bus on Saturday evening and walked up the Kilcroney Road on her way home as was her custom.
What we know so far is that as she walked not far from the Powerscourt estate about 6.15pm, a man in a black Nissan Qashqai stopped and attacked Jastine.
Luckily, a woman who was driving along the road with her children witnessed the incident as the man assaulted Jastine, quickly bundled the young woman into the vehicle and drove off. When gardaí arrived at the scene, they found Jastine’s phone and handbag and a major alert was issued.
Last night, a massive garda search was under way as detectives raced against time to rescue Jastine and return her safely to her family.
Fortunately, gardaí quickly obtained the registration number and identified the man they believe was driving.
The manner of the abduction seems to indicate this was an opportunistic, chaotic crime where the assailant acted on an impulse; a type of catastrophic psychological meltdown. Or the motive could be even darker.
Gardaí will want to establish if the individual was a predator who had been driving through back country roads intent on abducting a female.
There is little or no CCTV coverage in most isolated, rural areas such as the Wicklow Mountains.
If it hadn’t been for the eyewitnesses, then Jastine could have vanished with no clues as to what happened, losing the police vital time in launching an investigation.
The suspect’s past will be closely scrutinised for any evidence that he may have done something like this before and had not come to attention. The focus of the large force of gardaí on the case will now be the rescue of the victim after her suspected attacker was shot dead last night.
The abduction of Jastine Valdez evokes thoughts of other missing women cases.
US student Annie McCarrick (27), vanished after a night out in Johnnie Fox’s pub in Glencullen, Co Dublin, in March 1993. Jo Jo Dullard (21) disappeared without a trace in November 1995 while hitch hiking home from Dublin to Kilkenny. Deirdre Jacob (18) went missing in July 1998. She was last seen at the gate of her home after walking back from Newbridge, Co Kildare.
No trace has ever been found of these women.
The abduction of Jastine also comes just two days after the grim discovery of the body of 14-year-old Anastasia Kriegel who had been missing from her home since Monday last.
The youngster is believed to have been savagely beaten with blunt instruments following a sexual assault and was then left to die at the scene in a derelict farmhouse in West Dublin.
Gardaí in that case are pursuing a disturbing line of enquiry that the perpetrators may also have been young male teens.
These crimes, while they are thankfully not commonplace, serve to illustrate the disturbing issue of violence, particularly sexual violence, against women in modern society.