Where was she all this time? Mystery of missing American and the expensive search

Alan O'Keeffe

GARDA forensic experts are today conducting an examination of the house where a missing American tourist was found alive, five days after she vanished.

The grounds around the former rectory, a partially refurbished holiday home, have been searched at least twice by volunteers since the disappearance of Kelly Jones (41) last Saturday.

She was found in a distressed state in the locked building yesterday, just 300 metres from the search team headquarters in south-west Donegal.

Gardai are trying to establish if Ms Jones was in the building in Glencolmcille of her own free will.

The premises are currently unoccupied but had been undergoing renovation.

A distressed and disorientated Ms Jones was airlifted to Sligo General Hospital shortly after she was located by local garda Odhran McBride.

She was said to be in a stable condition, and was to be interviewed by officers today if she was well enough.

"I was with a female volunteer and we found her inside the old rectory," said Garda McBride.

"Kelly was in a very distressed state, she was disorientated and very weak.

"My first thought was utter relief that she was alive, quickly followed by just wanting to get her help and medical attention.

"There were hundreds of volunteers from three counties, from the mountain rescue teams to the hill walking clubs and the local GAA club, who had spent five days looking for her and things were not looking good," he continued.

"So to find her alive was fantastic for everyone."

Her father Ricky, who is due to arrive in Ireland from Georgia early tomorrow, was said to be "overwhelmed" when gardai broke the news to him.

Local farmer Micheal O'Gara had spotted Ms Jones in the building "walking from room to room and clearly distressed".