Thursday 14 December 2017

Gardai to arrest man as Margot Seery's 1994 cold case hots up

Organs could hold clue to Margot Seery's death

The exhumation of Margot Seery
The exhumation of Margot Seery
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Detectives investigating the suspicious death of a woman who died more than 20 years ago are preparing to make an arrest in the coming days.

Margot Seery (42) was thought to have died of choking in 1994 but her body was exhumed a fortnight ago after a man came forward claiming that he had strangled her.

A post-mortem at the time of her death said that she died of asphyxiation as a result of choking.

Detectives had hoped to establish whether she had been strangled by exhuming her remains to conduct a second post mortem. However deputy state pathologist, Dr Michael Curtis, discovered that vital internal organs that could have helped established how she died were missing.

Last week Gardai interviewed the retired pathologist who conducted the original post mortem. A separate investigation has been launched to establish what became of her internal organs.

It appears that her family did not give their consent for her organs to be retained.

Margot Seery's body was discovered in her apartment in Terenure, the day after she had been out socialising with friends. At the time, her death was not regarded as suspicious. The original post-mortem on her body was conducted at the City Mortuary on Store Street in Dublin.

The report of the autopsy attributed the cause of her death to asphyxia, as a result of choking, and foul play was not suspected. The report also suggested her brain was normal.

According to official guidelines on post-mortems, organ and tissue samples can usually only be retained with the written consent of the next of kin. Once a post-mortem examination is concluded, the organs that have been removed for examination are usually returned to the body.

Garda sources described the development in the case as "highly unusual". Detectives began investigating Margot Seery's death in July, after a man walked into a Garda station claiming that he had strangled a woman in her flat in Terenure in the mid-1990s.

Gardai treated his story with caution because he had a history of psychiatric problems, but they later identified the woman as Margot Seery. They corroborrated elements of his story after tracking down friends who were with him on the night in question.

Gardai received permission to exhume Margot Seery's body from the family grave in Rathkeale last Tuesday week.

The deputy state pathologist Dr Michael Curtis discovered the woman's internal organs were missing. The coroners in Dublin and in Limerick were alerted and an investigation was launched.

Detectives had planned to interview the man who claimed to have murdered Margot Seery this week but have since had to delay their plans because of developments that followed the exhumation of her body.

Notwithstanding the missing organs, garda sources said they plan to make an arrest in coming days.

Investigating officers had hoped that by exhuming her body, they could establish whether a small floating bone in her neck - called the hyoid bone - was broken, which can be an indicator of strangulation. However the bone had also been removed from her remains.

Sunday Independent

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