A WOMAN in protective custody abroad is being interviewed by gardai in connection with the disappearance of pregnant hairdresser Fiona Pender who disappeared more than 18 years ago.
The woman is understood to be a partner of the main suspect in the case of the missing Offaly woman.
She came forward after she had been threatened by the suspect. She told police in the country where she is now living that the man had warned her that he had killed Fiona Pender and would kill her too.
The suspect was arrested and faces charges in relation to threats against his partner. He has been released on bail.
As a result of information given to gardai, fresh searches for Ms Pender's body will be carried out in the coming weeks.
It is understood to be the most hopeful development in the case to date.
The 25-year-old has not been seen since she disappeared from her flat in Church Street, Tullamore, in 1996.
Her mother, Josephine (65), has said she is worried she will die before the remains of her daughter and unborn grandchild are found.
"I would have hoped to have found Fiona before I die - I have been very ill this year," she said in August of this year.