Fresh appeal for witnesses in O’Hara murder inquiry

Garda Commissioner warns women using internet services to exercise caution

Elaine O’Hara: last seen alive in August 2012

Elaine O’Hara: last seen alive in August 2012

Thu, Sep 19, 2013, 10:23

Gardaí last night issued a new appeal for witnesses in their murder investigation following the discovery of the remains of Elaine O’Hara in the Dublin mountains and said an incident room has been set up at Blackrock Garda station.

Giving more personal details, they said Ms O’Hara was a childcare assistant and a trusted person. She also worked part-time in a newsagents in Blackrock Shopping Centre and was a very popular employee. On the day she went missing, she had volunteered to work at the Tall Ships Festival in Dublin city centre.

“We are appealing to any person or persons who may have met, spoken to or engaged with Elaine between August 22nd, 2012, and August 24th, 2012. We are also appealing to any person who may have seen Elaine’s turquoise Fiat Punto (05 D) during this time period.”

On the day Ms O’Hara went missing, she was wearing navy tracksuit bottoms, white runners and a bright-blue zip-up top The Garda statement said that, on August 24th, 2012, Ms O’Hara’s father reported to the Garda­ his daughter was missing. She was last seen leaving her home at Belarmine Plaza, Stepaside, at approximately 5.05pm on Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012.

A reported sighting placed her close to the footbridge that crosses the railway at Shanganagh Park, Shankill, at approximately 6.15pm on the same day. Her car, a turquoise Fiat Punto, was located by Garda­ at Shanganagh Cemetery at 3pm on Friday August 24th, 2012.

The incident room at Blackrock can be contacted at 01-666 5200.

The Garda Confidential Line (1800 666 111) or any Garda station can be contacted.

A more extensive search of the forest area in the Dublin mountains where the skeletal remains were discovered may last for weeks, as gardaí seek additional evidence to establish the cause of death.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan yesterday warned women using internet dating services to exercise caution.

“It is important that people are careful about who they communicate with,” he said, adding that he would advise people to “know who you are dealing with, know the circumstances surrounding the business you’re dealing with and to exercise reasonable caution and care, as in every other facet of life”.

Detectives investigating the case believe Ms O’Hara, who was from Oakdene, Killiney, south Co Dublin, was using dating websites.

Her computer and telephone records are being studied in an effort to trace the man or men with whom she was in contact.

Gardaí believe Ms O’Hara’s body was simply dumped, rather than buried, and that she was most likely dead within hours of last being seen alive on August 22nd last year.

The commissioner did not rule out a link between Ms O’Hara’s killing and the disappearances of a number of women in Leinster in the 1990s.

Operation Trace was established in the late 1990s to investigate the disappearances and presumed murders of women including Annie McCarrick, Jo Jo Dullard, Deirdre Jacob, Fiona Pender and Fiona Sinnott.

Gardaí are trying to establish whether Ms O’Hara went to meet a man on the day she was last seen alive.

A number of Ms O’Hara’s personal items, including her mobile phone and a fob key were found in a bag in the Vartry reservoir near Roundwood in Co Wicklow last Wednesday.
A man who works at the reservoir saw some suspicious personal items when the water levels were lower than usual. Garda divers joined the search.

There were a number of items in the bag, including handcuffs and restraints.

This has led gardaí to explore the possibility Ms O’Hara went to meet somebody she had met online and was killed by the person, after which her body was dumped.

The remains were found by a woman walking her dog.