In September 1999, 17-year-old schoolgirl Raonaid Murray was stabbed in a laneway off Silchester Road in Glenageary, Co Dublin.
Mortally wounded, she managed to stagger onto Silchester Park where she collapsed and died from her horrific injuries.
In a further cruel twist to this tragic story it was her sister Sarah who made the gruesome discovery of the lifeless body of Raonaid crumpled up on the pavement not much more than 70 yards from their family home. Sarah was returning home from a night out with friends. The time was 12.20am
Initial investigations indicated that Raonaid, a beautiful and vivacious young woman, was the victim of a frenzied knife attack .
At the time, I was detective inspector in nearby Bray and I was involved in that investigation on a full time basis for the next 6 months.
I had worked on many murders during my career but rarely could I recall any other homicide investigation carried out as professionally and with such intensity as the investigation into the murder of Raonaid.
From the very first murder conference it was made abundantly clear to the investigating team by the senior officer that all the resources of the state would be made available to us to bring Raonaid’s killer to justice.
The investigating team of more than 60 detectives were supported and supplied with every requirement that was made.
We worked all the hours God sent without any curtailment or limits on overtime or other expenses.
Working 14 -16 hour days became the norm for us. Holidays were postponed or cancelled and even on weekends we never took a break.
From the very beginning of the investigation we encountered a major and seemingly insurmountable obstacle in any murder investigation i.e. we could find no motive for the murder. Subsequent post mortem examinations revealed that Raonaid had not been sexually assaulted and robbery was not a motive as none of her possessions were stolen.
We questions hundreds of witnesses and arrested and interrogated a good number of suspects. Unfortunately we could never put anyone into the frame as a prime suspect and sadly and regrettably that remains the position to this day.
We did however make a breakthrough some weeks into the investigation when a witness came forward with vital information. This witness was possibly the last person to see Raonaid Murray alive.
The witness told us she had identified the murder victim from photographs in the media and had seen her on the night of her death close to the scene of the crime, arguing with a young man.
She described the man as being dressed in beige jacket and beige trousers and a dead spit of Liam Gallagher the singer from the band Oasis.
Despite relentless and exhaustive enquires we never established the identity of this man and were unable to back up this sighting of her possible.
All in all we took more than 3,000 statements during the course of the investigation almost as many as were taken in the investigation of the Omagh bombing.
Despite the best efforts of all the detectives involved we came up against a blank wall. The unsolved murders of Raonaid Murray and the Rathfarnham school boy Philip Ciarns who disappeared in 1985 are two cases which still continue to intrigue, fascinate and trouble me even though I am now long retired.
Raonaid Murray’s investigation was my last murder case. I retired from the force in 2000. The Garda cold case unit which had been examining the case had now finally closed the file on this murder.
Let me say here at this juncture that I totally refute any suggestion that we came up short in this investigation.
My own considered opinion is that Raonaid Murray just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and became the random victim of a knife wielding maniac.
My sincerest sympathy and prayers go out to Raonaid’s heartbroken parents Deirdre and Jim and their family. They continue to endure this never ending nightmare.