A MAN who seemingly vanished without trace has been murdered over a drugs debt, investigators believe.
Patrick Heeran (48) disappeared in October 2011, leading detectives to suspect that he has been the victim of foul play.
A senior source said: "Mr Heeran came from an extremely respectable and decent family and they have been left devastated over his disappearance, but unfortunately he had fallen in with the wrong crowd.
"He had a problem with drugs, especially heroin, and a major line in this investigation is that he was murdered over a drugs debt.
"Gardai are now focusing on statements that had been given to them by some of Mr Heeran's associates shortly after he disappeared – in some cases not all relevant information was properly disclosed.
"This has been a massive investigation and it now might be about to take a certain turn."
It has emerged that gardai have enlisted the help of Interpol in their bid to solve the mystery of the missing farm worker but to no avail.
Last night the officer leading the investigation into his disappearance said 'recent developments' in the case had prompted a new public appeal.
Patrick, who was single, was last seen around 4.20pm on October 3, 2011, at Aughavas, near Mohill, Co Leitrim.
He had been in a local supermarket on the day he disappeared and was last seen after being dropped off at his home by a passing motorist who had given him a lift.
"This has remained an active and live investigation and there have been some recent developments which have led us to issue a new public appeal for help in solving this case," said senior investigating officer Inspector Jim Delaney.
"Those developments have led us to believe that there are people who are in a position to help us.
"Patrick has two sisters and two brothers and gardai have been told it would have been totally out of character for him not to keep in touch.
"While this is still a missing persons investigation, obviously with the passage of time, I am seriously concerned for Patrick."
Inspector Delaney would not comment on whether he believed Patrick was still alive or if he had been targeted over a drugs debt.
"Patrick travelled abroad before to Australia and to Holland and we have enlisted the help of Interpol, although to date there has been no sighting or record of him abroad," said Insp Delaney.
"His family say it would be extremely out of character for him not to keep in touch."
Patrick is 5ft 9ins, of stocky build with fair hair.
When he was last seen he was wearing brown shoes, blue denim jeans and a brown jacket.
Anyone who may have seen Patrick or who can assist in locating him is asked to contact gardai in Carrick-on-Shannon on 071 965 0510.
They can also call the Garda confidential telephone line on 1800 666 111.